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How can the brain heal itself?

The good news is that the brain is flexible and adaptable. The prefrontal cortex (amygdala) can be retrained through thinking and planning, to shut down the stress response and apply the braking system. Both medication and various evidence-based psychotherapies can be helpful in facilitating this process.


Does Therapy Really Work?

Several therapies have been found to be helpful for people with PTSD, including: Cognitive Processing Therapy, Prolonged Exposure Therapy, and Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR). Each of these approaches is described briefly below:


1. Cognitive processing therapy (CPT): Helps break negative thought patterns. Small changes in thoughts can allow for big changes. Examples of unhelpful thinking patterns:

  • -Don’t deserve to be happy

  • -The world is unsafe


CPT Process:

  • -Identify stuck points

  • -Believing the world unsafe

  • -Believing you have caused the problems

  • -Missing out on people, places, and things you used to enjoy

Challenges your idea and belief “I can’t”, to prove that you can! You can get unstuck.


2. Prolonged Exposure (PE): helps you do safe things that you have been avoiding.

Symptoms: places and situations are considered dangerous, unsafe, sufferers avoid them, repetitively saying I can’t…

  • Can’t go out

  • Can’t trust

  • Can’t handle crowds

PE Process:

With practice, you can find that you can handle it. Exposure gets easier with time. Go to the places that trigger you.

1. Close your eyes    

2. Retelling (anger, guilt, sadness)

3. Listen to recorded version


Talk without feeling overwhelmed

Helps you deal with environmental triggers to help you lead a better and more active life, but it doesn’t erase trauma


3. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR):

This therapy helps you move your eyes while you think about the trauma, helps you process, while reprocessing things in a different way so, you look back about after processing and re-sensitize the body not to have the stress response


EMDR Process: starts with history taking

1.  Establish treatment goals

2.  How you will manage anxiety

3.  What negative thoughts do you have about yourself?

4.  What would you like to believe about yourself going forward?

5.  How bad does it feel right now?

6.  New information surfaces during EMDR processing. Processing is over when you feel better about yourself and symptoms are relieved. Exposure to images and their related feelings help you reprocess the trauma.

All treatment choices should include 3 to 4 months of weekly therapy. The benefits of these therapies can last for years. The internet, family, friends and articles may all point you in different directions. How do you know what’s best? It is important to remember to use a qualified doctor or therapist for a recommendation and therapy.


Evidence-based treatment options must include the following:

  • Multiple research studies

  • Repeatable- the process works more than in one study

  • Tested by different researchers in a variety of settings

  • Quality-high quality subjects, random assignments to study


Skill-based therapies can improve PTSD, including sleep issues and nightmares.

Medication Options:

Antidepressants, such as  Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI’s) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI’s) help brain cells communicate better and balance the chemicals in the brain. With PTSD, our brain cells don’t communicate as well as they should. Antidepressant medications can help with anxiety and trauma. They should be used in conjunction with talk therapy, but don’t have to be.


Serotonin is the chemical in the brain that helps balance mood systems, and norepinephrine systems. Brand names for the drugs that help rebalance the systems include, Fluoxetine (Prozac), Sertraline (Zoloft) and Paroxetine (Paxil). The SNRI medication, Venlafaxine (Effexor), is especially good for PTSD. Prazosin is a drug specifically for nightmares. Typically, these medications take about 4 to 6 weeks to work.


**Benzopyrene drugs like Xanax and Lorazapam should not be used with antidepressants. These anti-anxiety medications have not proved helpful, may interfere with therapy, and may cause confusion, fogginess, accidents, and falls,


Remember to always consult your doctor before taking any drug



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