Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that's triggered by a terrifying traumatic event. Even witnessing a traumatic event can result in PTSD. DSM V (a manual for psychiatrists to diagnose different conditions) lists the criteria for PTSD.
You may not meet the criteria for PTSD but still have the lingering impact of Trauma. This website refers to "healing" as a generic term for healing from trauma, including those diagnosed as having PTSD.
Many evidence-based treatments have been identified to help manage the symptoms and impact of PTSD.
Here is a summary of some of them:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This type of psychotherapy is one of the most effective treatments for PTSD. It involves helping individuals understand and change thought patterns that lead to maladaptive behaviors and emotions.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR is a form of psychotherapy that helps individuals heal from the symptoms and emotional distress resulting from traumatic life experiences. It involves recalling traumatic memories while making specific eye movements, which can reduce the intensity of the traumatic memories.
Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE): PE involves working with a mental health professional to re-experience the traumatic event in a safe environment, which can help reduce the power it has over an individual's mind.
Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT): This type of therapy helps people with PTSD understand and change how they think about their trauma and its aftermath. The goal is to understand and change thoughts that lead to severe and lasting symptoms of PTSD.
Medication: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are types of antidepressants that can help treat PTSD symptoms. In some cases, other types of medication like Prazosin may be used for specific symptoms, like nightmares.
Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET): This is a short-term treatment for traumatic stress disorders, particularly in individuals who have experienced multiple and complex traumas. Particularly useful for collective trauma.
Stress Inoculation Training (SIT): This therapy helps individuals develop coping skills to manage anxiety and fear associated with PTSD. It usually involves techniques such as breathing retraining and muscle relaxation.
It's important to note that different treatments may work better for different people, and often a combination of therapy and medication can be the most effective.
Also, ongoing research may lead to new treatments and changes in recommendations. A mind-body integrative approach (including yoga, music therapy along with psychotherapy) is being increasingly preferred by experts as well as survivors. Always consult with a healthcare professional for personal medical advice.
This article is based on information from Veterans Affairs USA and American Psychological Association. Here is VA's booklet on PTSD and Treatment Options. Here is the Clinical Guidelines from APA for treatment of PTSD.