There is nothing unusual about feeling afraid while dealing with a shocking situation. Any incident involving grave physical or sexual assault or extremely severe emotional abuse may result in either an inclination to escape or the urge to fight back. While most people manage to recover from the emotional aftermath of traumatic events, in some, the impact of the damage is acute and continues to persist. Medical practitioners identify the condition as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which causes people to feel distressed and anxious, even when they are not in danger.
In a study titled “Long-Term Outcome of Early Interventions to Prevent Posttraumatic Stress Disorder,” published online in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry in April 2016, researchers aimed to examine the long-term impact of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) on PTSD patients and the range of outcomes the treatment has on the patients.
How CBT can help reduce suffering
For the study, the researchers observed 232 participants from a non-military background who had been afflicted with the disorder after a single distressing incident. Of all the participants, 40 were administered cognitive therapy for 12 weeks, 63 were subjected to a prolonged exposure to cognitive therapy, 23 were given a placebo pill one month post the treatment, while 23 more participants were given selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Of all the respondents, 82 were followed up and evaluated after five months and then reassessed after 36 months.
The scientists, during the follow-up after five months, observed lower incidence of PTSD among the respondents who received cognitive therapy and those who were categorized under prolonged exposure groups, when compared to those who received placebo or escitalopram treatments or those who took no treatment at all.
The researchers also noted diminishing scores made by these patients on the Clinician-administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) at the end of five months. But, the evaluation done at the end of three years showed the prevalence of PTSD, along with PTSD signs, in the respondents who received cognitive therapy or belonged to prolonged exposure groups.
According to the researchers, administering CBT is an effective method to reduce the extent of suffering and impairments experienced by PTSD patients. Nearly, one-third of PTSD patients fail to recover from the trauma deep rooted in them. “Once you’ve recovered with therapy, then PTSD is stable. You don’t relapse. There are people who do not respond to therapy and they deserve a second-line treatment that we should now be much more active in researching,” said Dr. Arieh Shalev of NYU Langone Medical Center in New York.
Early medical interventions and timely help may speed up the recovery process for most patients suffering from PTSD, but many a times, cognitive therapy may fail to deliver the expected results leaving the patients distressed under the pressure of recurring emotions.
Road to recovery
To raise public awareness about PTSD and make effective treatments available, the National Center for PTSD (NCPTSD) observes June as the PTSD Awareness Month. The campaign aims to bring about a greater awareness among Americans about PTSD that may result from a single traumatic event or a series of events involving natural or man-made disasters, the effects of war or the stress caused by combat or conflicting issues.
Though CBT and prolonged exposure therapy have shown some success in treating patients with PTSD, the long-term impact of these therapies still remains unknown. While stressing on the long-term impact of CBT on PTSD outcomes, authors of the study said, “When people have expressed those symptoms for about 6 months to a year and a half, they are there to stay. The disorder becomes entrenched or gets into a prolonged, basically unremitting phase. The importance of intervening early is actually to try and prevent people from getting to this stable pathological equilibrium.” If you or your loved one is battling mental illnesses, including PTSD, the Sovereign Mental Health Services is willing to help regarding mental health programs. Chat online with one of our experts or call at the 24/7 helpline number 866-954-0529 for further information about one of the best mental health facilities.