PTSD Diagnosis & Treatment

Diagnosing PTSD

If you or a loved one is struggling with symptoms of PTSD, don’t go it alone. Living with PTSD is manageable with the right care. Mercy’s behavioral health professionals offer diagnostic and treatment services that help you find recovery and healing. 

PTSD Diagnostic Criteria

The diagnosis of your condition by a Mercy behavioral health provider is the next step. To be diagnosed with PTSD, you must have all of the following symptoms for at least one month:

  • At least one re-experiencing symptom (flashbacks, bad dreams or frightening thoughts)
  • At least one avoidance symptom (staying away from things associated with the trauma or avoiding thoughts about it)
  • At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms (tension, insomnia, easily startled or angry outbursts)
  • At least two cognition and mood symptoms (negative thoughts, loss of interest in enjoyable activities, memory loss relating to the trauma or distorted feelings of guilt

PTSD Assessment for Adults

Mercy behavioral health professionals may perform additional psychological assessments to diagnose adult PTSD, which could include:

  • Perform a physical exam
  • Review your medical history and symptoms
  • Order lab work or other tests

PTSD Assessment for Children

Screening and assessment for PSTD in children may also include:

  • Collecting information from a variety of perspectives (parents, teachers, caregivers, etc.)
  • Identifying the impact on the child’s current and future development

PTSD Treatment Options

At Mercy, we understand that partnering with family members results in better outcomes for our PTSD patients. Your Mercy care team will work with you and your family to develop an individualized treatment plan after receiving a diagnosis. Effective treatment for PTSD often includes psychotherapy (talk therapy) or medication. Watch for changes in your symptoms and behaviors throughout treatment for PTSD. Your Mercy provider will work with you to monitor treatment effectiveness, identify side effects and make adjustments over time.

PTSD Therapy

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) - CBT for PTSD is highly effective as both short-term and long-term treatment. This type of therapy is focused on identifying, understanding and changing thinking and behavior patterns. It can be provided individually or in a group setting.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Recalling traumatic memories while a specially trained therapist directs side-to-side eye movements or hand tapping to lessen pain from re-experiencing them
  • Child & Adolescent Therapy Using talk therapy with family involvement to minimize additional trauma for the child
  • Integrative Therapies Incorporating alternative therapies to the overall treatment plan, such as acupuncture, yoga, meditation and others

PTSD Medication

Anti-anxiety medications can help relieve PTSD symptoms and make therapy more effective. Certain serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are FDA-approved to treat adults with PTSD and are often the medication of choice. Talk with your Mercy behavioral health professional about the benefits and risks of these medications, as well as any other options that might be right for you.

PTSD Treatment Programs

  • Outpatient mental health programs Most PTSD treatments are provided on an outpatient basis, allowing you to maintain work, social and family responsibilities. Outpatient treatment also lets family members play a more active role in supporting recovery.
  • Inpatient mental health programs In cases where patients can’t reach their treatment goals and reduce symptoms as an outpatient, inpatient care may be required.

Treatment for PTSD & Substance Use Disorder 

Turning to alcohol or drugs to self-manage PTSD only makes the condition worse and could lead to self-destructive behaviors. When you’re diagnosed with PTSD and dependent on drugs or alcohol, you’re considered to have a dual diagnosis. Your Mercy care team understands that a comprehensive treatment plan focused on the causes of PTSD will often include treatment for drug or alcohol use.

While not all treatments are available in all areas, Mercy offers a variety of services across the communities we serve. Our behavioral health professionals can direct you to the best possible care.

Living with PTSD

Getting the right treatment is critical. Don’t let embarrassment prevent you from getting help for PTSD. Remember, 1 in 5 Americans is affected by mental illnesses, which are medical conditions like any other that require treatment to improve. At Mercy, you’ll receive care with dignity and respect. We’re dedicated to helping you return to a satisfying and healthy life.