Although the acute stress response is not a disorder in the narrower sense, many sufferers need temporary support. Often lay people - partners, family, friends - make the situation more bearable and processable. In the case of PTSD, therapy should be given in any case, so that the affected person can return to a normal life.
What is done in an acute stress response?
In the event of major disasters and accidents, there are often psychologically trained first-aiders available to support, talk to, and also help with information and counseling to cope with the acute situation. Within 1-3 days after the event, a professionally led group session for the psychological debriefing can be arranged for the primary victims (eg the passengers after a hijacking) or secondary victims (eg the relatives of the occupants after a plane crash) (so-called debriefing); In Germany, there are also special crisis management teams that help individuals with pronounced symptoms individually.
However, the efficacy of such routine, systematic psychological support, and debriefing in particular, has been the subject of much controversy in some specialist publications, even considered by some to be rather harmful. Acute sleep disorders and anxiety can be relieved for a short time by medication (benzodiazepines, hypnotics).
This is how PTSD is treated
The treatment of PTSD as so-called trauma therapy rests primarily on two pillars: psychotherapy and drug treatment.
- Psychotherapy aims at the patient being remembered, processed and accepted as belonging to his biography. Individual and group therapy procedures, outpatient crisis interventions and inpatient (short-term) stays are available. With long-standing PTSD, the behavioral therapy is especially used by specially trained therapists or in specialized institutions.
- A useful procedure developed in the late 1980s is the EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).
- The biofeedback process has also proved effective. In addition, relaxation procedures are used.
- The drug treatment is mainly used supportive; often the person concerned first needs tablets in order to be accessible to psychotherapy at all. In particular, the states of anxiety, sleep disturbances and hyperexcitability are treated.