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Get the Right Treatment for PTSD

Try being the 'difficult' patient

Veteran talking about PTSD treatment options

You've probably heard people say, "doctor knows best." But new information challenges this old saying. Research tells us that when it comes to choosing a PTSD treatment, it may very well be the patient who knows best.

Having a say can help

A recent study found that people who chose which PTSD treatment they received (either therapy or medication) improved more than people who were assigned treatment. Patients were also more likely to finish a full course of treatment if they picked it themselves.

Given this information, it is promising that many people with PTSD want to have a voice in these decisions. A survey of more than 300 adults with PTSD symptoms, half of whom were Veterans, found that nearly everyone wanted to be involved in treatment decisions.

Don't be afraid to be 'difficult'

However, even when patients want to be involved, sometimes there are obstacles. One of the main obstacles? They're afraid the doctor will label them as "difficult."

"Patients often see their doctor as the authority figure. They worry that asking questions or disagreeing with a recommendation will come off as disrespectful," says Dr. Juliette Harik, a clinical psychologist at VA's National Center for PTSD. "But I really appreciate when my patients share their questions and concerns with me. It shows they're invested."

Understand your options

It might help to think of your doctor as your colleague, not your boss. Someone who can help you understand what to expect from different treatment options. Your doctor can explain how often you'll meet, what you'll be asked to do, and any risks or side effects. They can also connect you with resources to help you compare effective treatments, and learn how treating PTSD can turn lives around. Together, you and your health care team can decide which treatment makes the most sense for you.

Develop your treatment plan

Today, there are more effective PTSD treatments than ever before, meaning patients have options. Trauma-focused psychotherapy appears to be the most effective treatment, but there is no single treatment that's right for everyone.

Whether your PTSD treatment plan involves therapy or prescription medication, My HealtheVet can help. Veterans can manage their prescription refills, access medical records, and exchange messages with their therapists by logging in with a Premium account. Schedule your next health care appointment online, and share any questions or concerns you have about your PTSD treatment.

Read More

PTSD Treatment Decision Aid (National Center for PTSD)

About Face - PTSD: We've Been There (National Center for PTSD)

PTSD Treatment Options with Help from My HealtheVet


Created November 29, 2018