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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Oct 3, 2022.

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that occurs after a traumatic situation or event. This event may have caused you to feel intense fear, pain, or sorrow. You may think you are going to get hurt or die. You may also continue to feel helpless after the event. These feelings affect your daily activities and relationships.


Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • You think about hurting or killing yourself or someone else.

Call your doctor or therapist if:

  • You cannot sleep or are sleeping too much.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


The following may be used to treat your symptoms:

  • Antidepressants lower or stop the symptoms of depression and is the main medicine used to treat PTSD. You may need to try more than 1 type. You may start at a low dose and slowly increase the amount. It may take weeks to months for you to feel the full effect.
  • Antianxiety medicines help you feel less anxious.
  • Sedatives help you stay calm and relaxed. They may also be given to help you sleep.
  • Antiadrenergics help reduce nightmares PTSD can cause.
  • Antipsychotic medicines reduce activity between certain brain chemicals involved in PTSD. They may be used if other medicines or treatments are not effective.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell your provider if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.


may also include any of the following:

  • Therapy may be done in a group or one on one with a therapist. Family and friends are also an important part of recovery.
    • Cognitive behavior therapy helps you learn to face the feared object or situation slowly and carefully. You will also learn to control your mental and physical reactions of fear.
      • During cognitive processing therapy , a therapist helps you identify which thoughts about the trauma cause anxiety. He or she will help you see the event differently. This may help you learn to change your thoughts and decrease your anxiety.
      • During prolonged exposure , a therapist helps you work through thoughts, feelings, and memories about the trauma. A therapist helps you learn how to handle your thoughts and feelings. This can decrease your fear or anxiety.
    • Talk therapy may be one or more meetings with a therapist to have crisis counseling. You may have this right after a traumatic event to prevent or decrease further emotional problems.
    • Relaxation therapy teaches you how to feel less physical and emotional stress. Stress may cause pain, lead to illness, and slow healing. Deep breathing, muscle relaxation, and music are some forms of relaxation therapy.
    • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a type of exposure therapy. Healthcare providers help you make your eyes move back and forth while you imagine the trauma.
    • Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a procedure used to stimulate a specific part of the brain with pulses from a magnet. You may need TMS in combination with medicines and therapy.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

For support and more information:

  • National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
    Phone: 1- 802 - 2966300
    Web Address:
  • National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Office of Science Policy, Planning, and Communications
    6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 6200, MSC 9663
    Bethesda , MD 20892-9663
    Phone: 1- 301 - 443-4513
    Phone: 1- 866 - 615-6464
    Web Address:

Follow up with your doctor or therapist as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.