Posttraumatic Stress Disorder - Treatment

Posttraumatic stress disorder is usually treated with a combination of medications and counseling. The medications are designed to reduce anxiety and to help patients overcome depression. The most common drugs used are the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as fluoxetine (pronounced floo-OC-suh-teen; trade name Prozac). Sleep problems may be treated with an antianxiety drug such as benzodiazepine (pronounced BEN-zoh-die-AZ-uh-peen). Drugs of this type have serious long-term side effects, however.

A common form of counseling is called cognitive-behavioral therapy. The purpose of cognitive-behavioral therapy is to help patients understand the basic nature of their disorder and to find ways of confronting and dealing with the disorder. Group therapy and family therapy can also be helpful. In group therapy, a number of individuals with similar problems meet and discuss common issues and ways of solving their problems. In family therapy, family members of the patient are helped to understand the nature of his or her disorder and to learn ways in which they can work together to support the patient.

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