Is There a Cure for PTSD?

Counselor talks with soldier during therapy
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When people are seeking out treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), many wonder if treatment will provide a cure for PTSD. Mental health disorders are often viewed in the same way as other medical problems, such as cancer or some other physical disease. Many medical problems or diseases can be cured. That is, the problem can be eliminated through some type of medical intervention, whether it is surgery or medication.

Given that there are a number of effective treatments for PTSD, such as exposure therapy, as well as some evidence that medication may be useful for people with PTSD, it would make sense that people might also wonder if their PTSD can be cured through these methods.

It's a Difficult Question to Answer

Although a number of effective treatments for PTSD have been developed, this question remains difficult to answer. In many ways, the answer depends on how you define the term "cure."

Treatments for PTSD can reduce and even eliminate many symptoms of PTSD. That is, following treatment, people may no longer experience intrusive thoughts. They may learn how to better manage their emotions and reduce their avoidance behavior. Symptoms of hyperarousal and hypervigilance may also go away. In this sense, PTSD can be "cured."

Treatments Can Give Back Control

However, treatments for PTSD will never take away the fact that a traumatic event occurred. Treatments for PTSD cannot erase memories of those events. Consequently, although you may no longer experience frequent intrusive thoughts or memories of a traumatic event, there may be times in which certain places, situations, or people trigger memories or thoughts of the traumatic event.

Although memories cannot be eliminated, what treatment can do is take away or reduce the extent to which those memories bring about tremendous distress and anxiety, as well as unhealthy behaviors focused on avoiding or preventing those memories. In doing so, treatment can help you regain control over your life from the symptoms of PTSD. It can help reduce the extent to which symptoms of PTSD interfere with a number of different areas in your life, such as work, school, or relationships.

That said, it is important to remember that symptoms of PTSD can come back again. Once you successfully complete treatment, it does not mean the work is done. It is important to continue to practice the healthy coping skills you learned in treatment, as well as keep an eye on warning signs that could indicate symptoms are coming back. However, with a commitment to using the healthy coping strategies you gained in treatment, there is no reason that you should not be able to live a long and meaningful PTSD-free life. PTSD and the effects of a traumatic event can definitely be overcome.

Getting Treatment for PTSD

If you have experienced a traumatic event and are suffering from symptoms of PTSD, it is very important to seek out treatment. If you are looking for a PTSD treatment provider, there are a number of helpful websites that can find the right provider for you. In seeking out a treatment provider, remember to be a consumer. Shop around until you find the treatment provider whom you feel can best address your needs.

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