Cheyenne VA Medical Center
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Services
Sometimes, when you experience a traumatic event — a car accident, an IED blast, military sexual trauma, or the death of a fellow Service member — that moment can continue to bother you weeks, months, and even years later. This can mean reliving the event: constantly replaying it in your head. It can mean avoiding places or things that remind you of the experience. It can also mean nightmares, sleeplessness, or anxiety. You might feel numb or, conversely, feel hyperaware of your surroundings.
The symptoms and effects of posttraumatic stress disorder, commonly known as PTSD, can disrupt your everyday life. People with PTSD sometimes withdraw from their family members and friends. They can find it hard to concentrate, startle easily, and lose interest in things they used to care about. Some may try to dull their feelings by misusing alcohol or drugs.
If you think you might have PTSD, there are resources to help you recover. Even if your symptoms come and go — or surfaced months or years after the traumatic event — effective treatments are available.
If you are bothered by thoughts and feelings from a trauma, you may wonder if you have PTSD. Taking a screening — either online or at a VA medical center (VAMC) — is a good idea. Only a mental health care provider can diagnose PTSD, but the screening can help you and your provider understand if you might benefit from treatment.
From a Veteran's Perspective:
From a Family Member's Perspective:
Trauma-focused psychotherapies are the most highly recommended treatment for PTSD. “Trauma-focused” means that the treatment focuses on your memory of the traumatic event or its meaning.
VA offers three of the most effective trauma-focused psychotherapies:
- Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)
CPT teaches people to identify how traumatic experiences have affected their thinking. It also teaches them to evaluate and change their thoughts. CPT usually takes 12 sessions and can be delivered in an individual or group format. The goal is for patients to learn ways to have more healthy and balanced beliefs about themselves, others, and the world.
Learn more about CPT.
- Prolonged Exposure (PE) therapy
PE works by teaching people to approach trauma-related memories, feelings, and situations that they have been avoiding since their trauma. By confronting these challenges in a gradual way with the help of a therapist, PTSD symptoms can decrease. PE typically lasts for 10–15 sessions.
Learn more about PE therapy.
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
After trauma, people with PTSD often have trouble making sense of what happened to them. In EMDR, patients pay attention to a back-and-forth movement or sound while calling to mind the upsetting memory until shifts occur in the way they experience that memory and more information from the past is processed. By processing these experiences, people can get relief from PTSD symptoms and change how they react to memories of their trauma. EMDR can take up to 12 sessions.
Learn more about EMDR.
PTSD may be related to changes in the brain that are linked to our ability to manage stress. Compared with people who don’t have PTSD, people with PTSD appear to have different amounts of certain chemicals (called neurotransmitters) in the brain. SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) are types of antidepressant medication that are believed to treat PTSD by putting these brain chemicals back in balance. They do not work as well as trauma-focused psychotherapy, but they can be effective.
Four SSRIs/SNRIs are recommended for PTSD:
- Sertraline (Zoloft)
- Paroxetine (Paxil)
- Fluoxetine (Prozac)
- Venlafaxine (Effexor)
(Medications have two names: a brand name — for example, Zoloft — and a generic name — for example, sertraline.)
To receive medications for PTSD, patients need to meet with a provider who can prescribe the medications. Many different types of providers, including your family health care provider and some nurses and physician assistants, can prescribe SSRIs and SNRIs for PTSD. You and your provider can work together to determine which medication may be the most effective for you. Learn more about SSRIs and SNRIs and how they compare with psychotherapies.
You may be interested in these PTSD Apps:
PTSD Family Coach:
- Cheyenne VA Medical Center and Clinics
- 307-778-7550 Ext. 7349
- 888-483-9127 Ext. 7349
Hours of Operation
- M-F, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.