Even though society has known about post-traumatic stress disorder for centuries, it’s only been in the last few decades that the medical profession has developed long-term treatments. What are past treatments for PTSD?
What Are Past Treatments for PTSD?
In World War II, treatment for many soldiers with symptoms of what was called “combat stress reaction” were at first just given a few days rest and then sent back into battle. It wasn’t until later in the war that more intense treatments were even available.
Proximity, Immediacy, and Expectancy
One therapy that did develop was called “Proximity, Immediacy, and Expectancy.” The thinking was to treat the problem immediately, without delay, and enlist the support of others in the military who had experienced stress.
The expectation was still that soldiers could return to battle quickly. For those with severe symptoms, there was therapy helping sufferers focus on managing daily activities so they could return to civilian life.
Korean War Veterans Had Most Difficulties
Studies have shown that Korean War veterans have had higher rates of “maladjustment” to civilian life than vets from World War II, according to the Journal of Traumatic Stress.
Why is that? It’s because the war itself did not receive as much attention as World War II. It’s often called “the forgotten war” and veterans did not receive much support for coping with trauma. Treatment was geared more toward individual situations and often consisted of immediate onsite psychiatric treatment.
PTSD Recognized in 1980
Post-traumatic stress disorder was officially recognized in 1980, five years after Vietnam ended. In 1983, Congress asked the Department of Veterans Affairs to undertaken a massive study of the disorder among Vietnam vets, and research into treatment increased dramatically.
PTSD Methods Evolve After Gulf War
Since the Gulf War in the early 1990s, different treatments methods have evolved. They include cognitive behavior therapy, which means working to recognize your thoughts about the trauma and how it affected you, and then replacing those thoughts with less stressful ones. Then you learn coping skills to deal with anger, guilt, fear, anxiety and other feelings.
PTSD Exposure Therapy
Exposure therapy means repeatedly talking about what you experienced so you can change how you react to the memories. The idea is to confront the memories so they become less threatening and less stress-producing to you and so you understand they’re not happening now.
PTSD Talk Therapy
Treatments also include education about the disorder so you know it’s real and nothing to be ashamed of, help in adjusting to work and family life, group counseling so that you can talk with others who’ve experienced the same thing, and family therapy, to help you and your loved ones understand what’s going on.
Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder often are prescribed medications such as anti-anxiety drugs or anti-depressants. This has become controversial in recent years because of charges that some are being over-medicated. However, if administered appropriately, medication can be an important treatment tool.
If you’re a civilian contractor, you may need treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder or help for your loved one talk with a Defense Base Act Lawyer to get help that is paid for under the Defense Base Act law.