Post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD refers to a mental health condition which is triggered due to a terrifying life event either by witnessing it or experiencing it. Symptoms of Post traumatic stress disorder include severe anxiety, nightmares and flashbacks. People who undergo traumatic events can have difficulty coping or adjusting, but with self care and time, the symptoms generally get better. If these symptoms become worse, interfere with your day to day activities or lasts for months, then you might have PTSD. The symptoms of PTSD can start within a month of an extremely traumatic event, but in some cases, the symptoms might not appear until many years after the event. These symptoms might cause problems in your relationships, work situation or social life. These memories can also make you unable to do your routine or daily tasks.
Post traumatic stress disorder can be caused by a variety of factors such as stressful experiences, trauma in your life, mental health issues, inherited features such as your temperament, chemical and hormones released by your brain. Having a family history of mental health problems, having depression or anxiety and facing childhood abuse can double the risk of Post traumatic stress disorder in an individual. Post traumatic stress disorder can be treated by cognitive therapy, exposure therapy or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). The EMDR therapy is extremely effective as it combines guided eye movement along with exposure therapy.
Firstly, Post traumatic stress disorder has to be diagnosed by your doctor in order to treat it. Your health professional will perform a physical exam to check any medical problems that can trigger PTSD. This is followed by a psychological evaluation which includes discussion of your symptoms, the doctor might ask you about events which may have triggered traumatic events in your life. After diagnosing Post traumatic stress disorder, your doctor can recommend you EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy. This therapy is a psychotherapy approach which has already been extensively researched and is proven to be very effective for treating PTSD. EMDR contains a lot of standard protocols which incorporates elements from various treatment approaches. This treatment option usually combines a series of eye movements along with exposure therapy, so that your traumatic memories and your reaction to those memories also change. EMDR has a different effect on how the brain processes traumatic information.
After a successful session of EMDR, the patient no longer relives feelings, sounds and images when the traumatic event is brought to mind. The memory of the event is still there, but it becomes less upsetting. EMDR is very similar to what happens during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep or dreaming. EMDR is a physiological therapy which helps a person see traumatic material in their life in a much less distressing way that before. There are 8 phases of this treatment namely, treatment planning, preparation, assessment, desensitization, installation, body scan, closure and re-evaluation. EMDR has helped a million people of all age groups to relieve psychological stress.
EMDR can be useful for people who have had personality disorders, body dysmorphic disorders, sexual abuse, physical abuse, addictions, performance anxiety, pain disorders, phobias, disturbing memories, dissociative disorders, complicated grief and panic attacks.
EMDR therapy should only be continued if other forms of therapy such as exposure therapy and cognitive therapy don’t seem to make a difference. Many doctors also prescribe medications for PTSD. However, medications doesn’t work in some cases, in such conditions EMDR is very helpful for complete recovery.
Side effects from EMDR therapy are extremely rare but sometimes it can occur. Certain complications like unprocessed memories can come to the surface and cause stress, patients can have intense emotional reactions and physical sensations during the EMDR session or EMDR might not work to fight symptoms of PTSD.
Unlike other therapies which focus on altering emotions, responses and thoughts resulting from disturbing experiences, EMDR focuses on your memory and intends to change the way the memory is stored inside the brain. This eliminates problematic symptoms of PTSD. After all the 8 phases are over, you can return back to your routine activities in no time and practise the skills taught in the therapy regularly.
More than one session can be required for the doctor to understand the true nature of the issue and decide whether EMDR is the correct treatment or not. An EMDR session can last from around 60 to 90 minutes. The problem, life circumstances and the previous trauma will determine how many sessions are required. EMDR can be effective by itself, with an adjunctive therapy or as a talking therapy.
The price of the treatment in India is approximately Rs.9,000 to Rs.13,000 per session.
EMDR gives results more rapidly than other forms of therapy, speed is not an issue. Before the treatment, it is important to understand that every person is different. Reaction and recovery of each patient is different because everyone has varied needs. Some patients may take a week to establish trust while other patients may proceed quickly through all the phases. Treatment is however not complete until this therapy has successfully focused on the memories that contribute to triggering PSTD. This therapy ends with figuring out which skill the patient might need in the future to combat anxiety.
Relative Risk: Low
Side Effects: Low
Time For Recovery: Medium
Price Range: Rs.9,000 - Rs.13,000 per session