Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects many of our veterans when they make the transition from the battlefield to the home front. It is considered an invisible wound that affects the mental state of soldiers and makes it difficult for them to live a normal life. There are many forms of therapy that are used to help veterans battle PTSD.

Cognitive Behavioral therapy (CBT) is one form of counseling that the VA provides for veterans with PTSD. CBT has two forms that the VA uses to help veterans. They are the Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) and the Prolonged Exposure (PE) Therapy.

  • Cognitive therapy is used to help veterans make changes on how they perceive their trauma and the aftermath. The goal of cognitive therapy is to get veterans to see how certain thoughts about their trauma can cause them to stress and make matters worse. Therapists are also used to help veterans expose the things that make them feel afraid and how to overcome the feeling.
  • Exposure therapy is used to help veterans create less fear about their memories. This form of therapy positions that people will learn to fear the thoughts, situations, and feelings that remind them of the specific traumatic event and will try to avoid the things that may remind them of the event. To combat this, therapists are used to help veterans talk about the trauma so eventually they will be able to control their thoughts and feelings toward the event or events that led to the trauma. Through desensitization veterans focus first on the memories that are less upsetting and eventually work themselves up to the worst memories to help them deal with their entire trauma a little bit at a time. Another coping mechanism that is used in exposure therapy is different types of breathing exercises that can help veterans with PTS relax.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is another form of therapy that is used to help veterans with PTS. This form of therapy is used to give veterans something to focus on while they are thinking or talking about their traumatic memories.

Group therapy is another form of treatment for PTSD. Veterans who have PTSD are more willing to talk about their trauma with people who also share some of the same experiences. The focus of this therapy is to allow veterans to build self-confidence and move forward with their life while focusing on the future and not the past.

Brief psychodynamic psychotherapy is another form of therapy that VA recognizes as a treatment for PTS. With this therapy, veterans learn the ways in which their past traumatic events affect the way they feel now. Therapists are used to help veterans identify the things that may trigger their memories, find the ways in which they can cope with their feelings, recognize their feelings and thoughts so they can change their reactions to them, and raise their self-esteem.

Family therapy is also a form of therapy that can be beneficial to veterans who are battling about PTSD and its effects. Family therapy helps veterans connect with their family and help families gain insights on how to better help their relatives battling PTSD.

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Medication is used to help veterans deal with the stress they may be experiencing when they think about their trauma. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are medications that are used that help control the effects of PTSD.

Among these researched forms of therapy for the treatment of PTSD, there are many other activities veterans do to help them with their PTSD. Some of these have not been clinically tested but come from the personal stories of veterans who have shared the mechanisms they use such as:

Service dogs and other animals, such as horses, have also been used to treat PTSD. Service dogs have become one of the most known forms of emotional support for veterans. Some of the benefits dogs provide for veterans are their ability to provide companionship, allow veterans to express their feelings of love, they can reduce stress, and they can also help veterans build relationships with the people around them.

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The Purple Heart Foundation is committed to offer assistance to our service men and women who are battling PTSD. It is our mission to help make the transition from the battlefield to the home front a smooth one for all of our men and women in uniform who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Individuals can find numerous resources on our website, and it is with the generous contributions of our supporters that we are able to make all of our service men and women our priority. You can show your support for all of our servicemen and women by making a one-time or monthly pledge to ensure they continue to receive the support they need and deserve by donating here.