In this weeks installment of The Firewives Guide to PTSD, I'll be discussing treatment options.
There are 3 main options for PTSD treatment. Your firefighters treatment will vary based on your provider, what your firefighter is comfortable with and what seems most effective.
1. Cognitive Therapy – Cognitive therapy is the most common and involves talking to a therapist, repeatedly, about the trauma and learning to spot the connections between your emotions and your behavior. A qualified psychologist will also be able to give you coping strategies to help your firefighter deal with his PTSD. This route may or may not involved medications.
2. Exposure Therapy – This therapy involves re-training your mind not to fear memories or things associated with the trauma. A qualified therapist will be able to train your firefighter to use different coping strategies, such as breathing exercises, when he encounters stressful situations.
3. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitizing and Reprocessing) Therapy – Mah Boo and I are lucky enough to live in the hometown of Dr. Michael Mithoefer, the doctor who pioneered the use of EMDR. EMDR is a therapy where you are asked to re-live the trauma while focusing your eyes on a light that moves. While it isn't well understood why it works, it frequently allows the person to reprocess the trauma into less stressful memories.
Obviously, medication is an option. However, if it's not used in conjunction with one of the previously mentioned therapies, it's not really a solution. It only puts a bandaid on the situation. Discuss your options with your doctor and decide what is right for you.
Depending on the severity of your firefighter's PTSD and it's effects on yourself and your children, you may want to consider family therapy as well. It can help keep resentment at bay and the communication lines open.
Other articles in the series: