There is no doubt that conversations around mental health disorders and mental health treatment have become more mainstream. This growing awareness coupled with efforts to open dialogues and break down stigmas is encouraging more people to acknowledge and seek treatment for mental health conditions, like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The changes in perception about PTSD are also driving the advancement of PTSD treatment options. Dr. Kristyn Gregory, DO, medical director at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, shared some insight into this evolution and what is on the horizon for PTSD treatment.
Treating PTSD Then and Now
For many years, psychotherapy was the exclusive treatment for PTSD, and over time, medications, namely antidepressants, were introduced, which has played a significant role in improved treatment effectiveness according to Dr. Gregory. Growing emphasis on behavioral health is also contributing to the development of PTSD treatment as mental health professionals seek more integrated treatment plans inclusive of psychotherapy, medications as well as healthy lifestyle practices. Patients’ eating habits, physical activity and other stress triggers are now routinely incorporated into more customized, comprehensive treatment plans. This focus on complete care is informing the future of PTSD treatment and prevention. Dr. Gregory explained that in addition to new treatment methods, mental health professionals are looking into preventive measures that enable patients to better process traumatic events and the stress they cause to avoid long-term damage. The hope is that taking a proactive approach to diagnosis and treatment will lead to more sustainable results. Mental health professionals are working toward a better understanding of PTSD’s various symptoms and triggers through rigorous research. “As we recognize trauma means different things to different people, more people are getting diagnosed and utilizing therapies,” says Dr. Gregory.
Moving PTSD Treatment Forward
According to Dr. Gregory, Veterans Affairs studies are a crucial component of such trauma research, providing valuable insight into PTSD diagnosis and treatment, as that is where this disorder and the respective field of study originated. Though it references studies related to PTSD in military service members, current research focuses on memory impact and how PTSD triggers manifest in individuals, shedding light on the various causes of PTSD—things like the loss of a loved one, sexual assault, accidents or injuries and more. Ultimately, by educating themselves and their patients, mental health professionals will not only continue to advance toward improved PTSD treatment, but they’ll also create a more welcoming environment in which patients feel comfortable seeking the help they need. Dr. Gregory encourages anyone who is struggling with their mental health or thinks they may have symptoms of PTSD to reach out to a health professional. For more information on how Blue Cross is working to support the development of mental health treatment, check out these blog posts:
- Signs you’re suffering from physical symptoms of stress
- Panic Attacks: What to do if they happen at work
- Mental Health on the Job: Tips for Ending Stigma at Work
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