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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as Treatment for PTSD

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as Treatment for PTSD

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[Dr. Michael Roy] Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is one element that's effective in PTSD. So that involves a number of different elements. There's some relaxation techniques—like deep breathing techniques. Muscle relaxation techniques. There's some psychoeducation. So somebody with PTSD might say, "Well gee, I went to the marketplace in Iraq or Afghanistan; a bomb went off. It's dangerous to go out in public places. So I'm just going to stay home in my room and I'm going to be safer." Well the problem is that staying home in their room, they're not getting that social interaction. They start to feel more down, withdrawn, and so forth. They end up just getting worse as a result of that. So this behavior that they—at some level—figure may be protective is actually perpetuating the impairment of function. So CBT looks at those behaviors, helps the patient look at them, and tries to adapt them. So what if you find a way that you can go out? "This is not the marketplace in Afghanistan. This is Bathesda or Arlington. This is okay. It's going to be alright here, right?" And working through those processes cognitively with them.

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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help people with PTSD look at their behaviors and then use strategies, like relaxation techniques, to overcome the fears and anxieties related to their traumatic experiences.

See more video clips with Dr. Michael Roy.


Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough, Justin Rhodes, and Erica Queen, BrainLine.

Michael Roy, MD, Col. (Ret.)Michael Roy, MD, Col. (Ret.) is professor of Medicine and director of the Division of Military Internal Medicine at Uniformed Services University and director of Recruitment for USU's Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine.

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