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May 21st, 2009
10:30 AM ET

Can PTSD be cured?

As a new feature of CNNhealth.com, our team of expert doctors will answer readers' questions. Here's a question for Dr. Gupta.

From Margaret, via comment on the Paging Dr. Gupta blog

“Do PTSD symptoms ever really go away?”

Answer:

Margaret, thank you for your question. Last week, I sat down with my producer and a flip cam and she started asking me questions about my time in Iraq. I hadn’t prepared for it at all, but the memories came flooding back. There was a hat that I used to wear during my 12 weeks out there. It was a camouflage wide brimmed hat, that was particularly effective for shielding me from the Iraqi desert sun. I brought that hat home, and hadn’t thought about it for a year until one day my wife and I were planning a hike. I pulled out the hat and put it on at the beginning of the trail. Inexplicably, I started to sweat, developed a pit in my stomach and almost threw up. At first, I thought it was something I ate, until I realized it was the smell and feel of that hat that immediately propelled me back to the battlefield. I had found a trigger. And, keep in mind, I was only there for three months, as compared to military personnel that have been on the battlefield for years.

As I researched this I learned the answer to your question. The symptoms of PTSD really never go away. Here is why: There is a profound psychological and physiological reaction to something traumatic. That traumatic event can’t be completely undone, though it can be diminished in the mind. Some of the symptoms include flashbacks, like I had. You may also have frightening thoughts, emotional numbness and depression. Many people will have problems sleeping, concentrating and will experience angry outbursts, to name a few.

The key to your question, I think, is to create a situation where someone who has persistent PTSD is still able to function normally. There are good treatments available, from counseling to immersion therapy. On an individual level, though, maintaining strong relationships with people who support you – they are often the first to notice the signs of PTSD – is very important. Also, talking to people who went through the same or similar experiences can be cathartic. And finally, try and remove things that trigger those memories. For my part, I threw away that hat.


soundoff (58 Responses)
  1. ACinCincy

    I experienced PTSD following a traumatic birth experience. For months afterword I had flashbacks, insomnia with rumination and severe bonding problems with the baby. My friends and family chalked it up to postpartum depression, but it was far more severe. I never had thoughts of harming the baby, but I desperately wanted to get away from her, and at times thought of harming myself or running away. I truly believe this is an understudied area of psychological trauma. After all, "you should be grateful", or "It's just baby blues" was all the advice I would get.

    When I got pregnant a second time, it all came flooding back, even worse than before because I feared having a similar birth experience again. (After all, what other experience did I have to go on?) A friend recommended prenatal hypnosis, which dramatically reduced the anxiety, and the nightmares stopped. Not only that, but I sought different care providers, and a different hospital – anything to avoid the same circumstances I was in before. The second birth experience was what I would call "healing". There was no trauma at all. It was amazing. I had no issues at all bonding with the second baby.

    It wasn't until I was in therapy several years after the fact that the real reason I had trouble bonding with my firstborn was diagnosed as PTSD. I learned that the poor litle thing was the primary trigger that brought it all back, which is why I hated being around her and avoided touching and holding her unless I absolutely had to when she was a baby, and even into her toddlerhood.

    With the help of cognitive behavioral therapy and antidepressants, things are much better, but part of me still feels like I missed out on something precious when she was new.

    I really hope this type of trauma gains more respect and study in the future. Bad birth experiences when both mother and baby are "fine" are rarely given any serious consideration, in my experience.

    May 21, 2009 at 12:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Patty Tjelmeland

      I experienced abuse as a child. I am now 58 years old. Throughout my life I had a difficult time with relationships, feeling disconnected and unable to trust. I was diagnosed with PTSD. I spent many years in counseling and trying different medications. I learned that there are 3 things needed to recover; a secure attachment, a good counselor, and the ability to take care of your self. I found these 3 things in my life and am now free of the intrusive memories.

      May 17, 2013 at 12:49 | Report abuse |
  2. Debra Liebig

    My car was hit from behind by a drunken driver in a very violent accident. Since he did not have enough insurance coverage, we had to go to court to get the money for my daughter and my injuries. We were living in Southern Mississippi at the time. Six months later, Hurricane Katrina struck. We both thought we were doing well until one year later right after our settlement was finally reached. My daughter wasn't feeling right so we took her to a therapist. She was diagnosed with PTSD. That's when I realized I also had PTSD. We both went on medication. Now two years later, the mention or site of Katrina gives us that exact pit in the stomach Dr. Gupta mentioned. We went to the movies to see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button without knowing that the Katrina coverage from WDSU in New Orleans was included. My daughter said she almost had to leave the theater. It also doesn't help that Mississippi will not give a minor their insurance settlement money until the age of 21 unless they join the military, get married or become an emancipated minor. We were not told this up front so my daughter will not get her money she could be using for her education for over another year. With that hanging out there, the accident can never be completely gone from our minds. The other day a car accident happened right in front of us and we both felt those same old feelings. We went ahead with our shopping and that seemed to help. Moving from Mississippi helped us a lot but there are some things that remain no matter what.

    May 21, 2009 at 13:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. nicolelovesopinions

    Thank you for answering this question. 🙂 I had trauma in my childhood with physical abuse and the such and have received counseling off and on for the past 2 years (money and insurance prevent it from being consistent). My counselor also explained PTSD to be like the story of the poachers that had killed an elephant and left her baby behind. The poachers often wore red and several years later there were people (who were not poachers) that were in the area and the elephant seeing one of them wear red...set off a trigger and charged at them. I'm not quite sure if the story is true, might be different versions but it made sense. It is very very hard trying to undo PTSD but taking time, reasoning out your emotions and trying to trace them back help me out a lot. At all times you have to be logical

    May 21, 2009 at 14:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Cheryl

    I would have burned it! Thanks for your many presentations on CNN.

    W/r/t PTSD, do you have any feeling or opinion on use of EMDR as a treatment. It has been offered in certain VA settings. Some reporters think it is a placebo, others believe it really decreases the emotional
    response which happens outside of our left brain control. It is supposed to allow the person w/ PTSD to be able to be able to remember what happened – but without experiencing the fear and anxiety of the events.

    Also, I wonder if one of the difficulties with "maintaining strong relationships" for vets with PTSD is that many people never really had strong relationships when they were young, or before experiencing the trauma of war. So they may have been more susceptible to stress to start with, and have no established trusting relationship(s) to return to – making recovery more difficult.

    May 21, 2009 at 15:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alice

      EMDR and different sleep studies has never helped my ptsd. it's over being awake in 2 surgeries during surgery I felt everything and the doctors don't believe me. that the worse. I panic all the time. can't sleep. But however. the surgeons are now my friends they are helping me to get rid of ptsd by talking about everything i remembering. and little by little It's getting better.

      October 14, 2011 at 20:19 | Report abuse |
  5. HPM

    Dear Dr Gupta,

    Thank you for your answer, I wish you could get through to the leadership of the US Army.

    I grew up in West Belfast, Northern Ireland & while attending University in the United States I found it therapeutic to write about the atrocities I witnessed as a child through that conflict.

    When the attacks on the World Trade Center occured I was a US Army Officer stationed at aCombat Training Center, as an Observer / Controller. The training exercises that I observed & controlled during this period, no longer became training exercises, my mind & emotions betrayed me & these exercises became real world.

    One morning I went to the local health clinic for a different issue & worked up the courage to tell the doctor I thought I had depression.
    His response was "ah depression whats that" I never mentioned the word depression again until after a failed suicide attempt.

    Everytime I read of a soldier committing suicide I wonder how many times he / she asked for help, and got the same response I got from a medical professional.

    I know all the reasons why they do not ask for help.

    Thank You For All You Do

    May 21, 2009 at 15:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Alex Lickerman

    I had two traumatic experiences in a row (medical emergencies which almost killed me) which brought on symptoms of PTSD that can still be triggered today. I wrote about the experiences as well as what I consider to be the fundamental cause of all PTSD, no matter its cause. Interested readers can find the post at:

    http://happinessinthisworld.com/2009/03/15/overcoming-the-fear-of-death/

    Alex Lickerman, M.D.

    May 21, 2009 at 16:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. marti kieehbadroodie

    imagine those including me that can't throw away a tangible item and get rid of a horrible situation. I have found EFT to be a MIRACLE in relieving PTSD which I have dealth with since childhood. Many drugs...much therapy. NOTHING has worked like EFT. Now I am DETACHED from those haunting memories. Now it seems like it happened to someone else...and that PIT of the STOMACH horror is gone...TYG!!!! PLEASE INVESTIGATE EFT!! It can save lives Sanjay.

    May 21, 2009 at 16:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. craig rasch

    as a ptsd sufferer i can attest to dr grupa's statement. i was in Vietnam for three years and still have strong symptoms. i also wish to say that the veterans administration is providing much better care than when i returned and the treatment is predominantly focused to living your life the best you can with the symptoms you have. this methodology seams to provide the best results both socially and personally. not all ptsd sufferers suffer the same symptoms. we have ww2 vets just now realizing they have ptsd. it seams to affect each person uniquely. the trauma can be just as bad even if your time is very short or even if your duty was periphery to the combat zone (like handling bodies or assisting injured fellow servicemen and the symptoms can inadvertently be transfered to those close to the patient by association such as family and friends.) recovery is closely related to the support and understanding of others. thank you dr grupa for an honest and revealing testimony and diagnosis. and thank you for your service god bless

    May 21, 2009 at 21:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Holly

    I've heard that just 7 days of treatment with beta blockers after a traumatic episode will almost completely eliminate the risk of PTSD. I read this a while back but haven't heard anything more.

    Could the fighting military be given beta blockers during battle to prevent PTSD?

    May 21, 2009 at 22:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Lisa Hunt

    Please investigate: http://www.emofree.com/articles.aspx?id=30
    Gary Craig has been working with Veterans through http://www.stressproject.org/ a non-profit research group which studies a group of therapies called Energy Psychology, which have a proven track record in releasing emotional trauma. It is free to vets and works.

    I am not connected to them in any way, except that I use EFT and believe it to be extremely useful.

    Thanks,
    Lisa Hunt

    May 22, 2009 at 08:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. ed

    Dr. Gupta.. let me be blunt.

    I would like to quote Farrah Fawcett, who is suffering with a terrible condition.

    "When you suffer from a debilitating condition... optimism is essential."

    You are on the wrong side of optimism for sufferers of stress conditions, at the moment. You need to expand your point of view to allow for acceptable OPTIONS for those of us who suffer intolerable levels of stress. You then need to share this info with your viewers.

    Shame on you.

    May 22, 2009 at 23:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Justin

    Dr. Gupta:

    I was a patient in the past year of a anterior/posterior L5-S1 fusion due to a fractured vertebrae. During the months prior to the operation, and several months after I was prescribed high doses of oxycontin and percocet to manage the intense pain this was inflicting on me. I am now prescribed methadone and vicodin for long term maintenance as I am still in reduced, but significant pain. I am seeking your insight in order to hopefully find a solution to an underlying issue I was cured of while on the oxycontin. For many years I have dealt with serious lack of motivation, interest and general happiness. This drug turned out to be the devil in disguise for me. While it did manage my pain, it also for the first time in memory gave me the motivation, interest, and happiness I so desperately seek. The methadone and vicodin do not. I don't want to, nor could I, rely on an opioid dependence on several levels but it is the only thing that has ever solved this for me and no doctor seems to understand why, or what the underlying issue is. I have tried several anti-depressants, therapists. and have also been prescribed concerta to no avail. What the heck is wrong with me!? Any thoughts on a diagnosis or treatment? I anxiously await your thought. Thank you for your time.

    May 23, 2009 at 08:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Gail Vallee

    This has just come up with our son, who was in the Navy for 20 years in the submarine service. He has been diagnosed with possible lung cancer, scarred lungs, emphysema. He has never smoked, and has lived in a smoke-free environment after his retirement from the Navy. The area that he has lived in for the last eight years is in a farming community in Illinois, not close to any major cities. Chicago is over 200 miles away. I am wondering if his being in the sub with the fumes that the sub had from many different things may have caused some of these problems. I have told him to notify the VA of his conditions. Would these illinesses be possible from having served on subs for long periods of time? He is only 47 years old, and before all these problems has been healthy, except for some blood pressure problems, which he also had in the Navy. Gail Vallee

    May 23, 2009 at 09:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Douglas

    This is in regards to the subsequent and obvious change in behavior noticed in my wife and friend of over 20 years during and after her return from Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).

    My wife has always been a very strong and dedicated individual which made her an excellent soldier. She remains one of the most mentally and physically toughest people I ever met; however, I as well as others witnessed a change in her behavior while communicating during her tour. My wife seemed withdrawn and mentally occupied during most of the infrequent times we spoke; however, I assumed it was the way she chose to deal with the unsafe and stressful environment. In addition to the environment, a couple of events took place during her tour that I know contributed to her enormous change in behavior

    There was an incident involving the death of Iraqi personnel that my wife had grown close to and were easily considered friends. Prior to the incident, she had been sharing with me the multiple things she learned about Iraqi culture through these individuals. It was a huge deal to her, as well as me, being that there were several misconceptions we had pertaining to Iraqi people. I remember the sadness and despair in her voice when she explained the incident. She spoke about how the reality of where she was kicked in and the amount of risk her friends were subjected just to provide for and support their family.

    The second incident hit closer to home and only by GOD’s grace did not have an outcome that would have took my wife and the mothers of my kids away from us forever. I remember speaking with my wife concerning her commands decision to have all personnel, no matter their MOS, convoy back and fourth between camps. This clearly did not make sense, being that the assigned MPs were frequently required to make these trips. I was extremely upset at the fact that a Commander would put a soldier specializing in Personnel matters in harms way due to a personal preference. My wife was also upset, but understood that it was something that she was required to do, so it would be best to prepare for it.

    With only a few weeks left in Iraq and a few months left in the Army all together, my wife was involved in a Car Bombing, which hit the convoy she was riding in. I remember it taking so long for her to explain what happen because of the crying and disbelief. It was so hard for me to be the rock during this time because all I could think about is how life would have been without her. I could here in her voice the ‘what ifs’ and how close the reality of death was. She explained how quick it happened; from seeing a speeding vehicle out the corner of her eyes, to a loud explosion followed by darkness. She explained the aftermath of feeling trapped in the vehicle consumed with smoke and the body parts she removed from her clothing believing it was material from the vehicle. I thank GOD every time I think about this incident for sparing my wife.

    When my wife finally returned from Iraq, acclimating herself back into a routine was required immediately. I was still here in Iraq and Thanksgiving and Christmas was right around the corner. There was no real break for her. During this time period, I received calls and emails from family and friends asking why she has not made contact or was not returning emails or phone calls. I chalked it up to how busy her schedule was with the upcoming holidays and preparing to ETS out of the Army; however, I knew it was more that that.

    Her mother that had lived with us since 2000, noticed the change immediately. There were several times we spoke about how short my wife’s temper had become and how distant and secluded she would be during the evenings. We are a very close family, so talking, laughing, and joking with each other, including the kids was a common occurrence. This was not taking place. We assumed that it would slowly get back to normal and even suggested some form of counseling, but with all the responsibilities surrounding the kid’s daily needs, the finances, life outside of the uniform, and just life period, receiving counseling did not fit into the schedule. I can not count how many arguments we have had because of the oblivious change in attitude and behavior that everyone noticed except her. Countless times my wife has changed moods in a matter of a few minutes and during regular conversations. Telling her that she is crazy really became a normal remark.

    If I had known that her change in behavior could have been due to a medical acknowledged sickness, I would have intervened a long time ago. Most people hear about the issues soldiers have after returning from a War, but most do not receive enough information to define it as a contributing factor surrounding the turmoil and disorder that occurs within their household. I do not want to believe that a woman I have known and loved more than half my life is being affected by a clinical sickness. One of the strongest attributes my wife possesses is her ability to maintain a mental toughness through challenging times, which I believe only hinders her ability to receive proper help for this possible condition.

    There is no one that I have ever met that loved life as much as my wife did prior to serving in Iraq. Her outlook on life has drastically changed for the worst ever since; whether the change was due to the events that took place in Iraq or War in general, the wife, mother, daughter, and friend that left for OIF has not yet completely returned.

    May 23, 2009 at 16:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. KJ

    The study you reference first appeared in 2002. The results did show a difference in the group that received the beta blocker (propanalol) but the difference was not statistically significant. The groups also were allowed to have supportive counseling which, as indicated by more recent research, has show to be more effective in treating PTSD than prescribing medications and using behavior modification techniques. The research on using beta blockers needs to continue to see if it's a reality to use in the treatment (or prevention of) PTSD.

    PTSD is real and more widespread than most people know. A lot of time, individuals and families don't realize there is a problem and can't explain the bouts of anger and personality changes that occur after war. Too often, the individual suffers in silence and many times PTSD will lead to things such as homelessness, violence, and suicide. This issue needs continued attention and it would be absolutely wonderful if further research can find a way to control the horrors this illness brings.

    May 24, 2009 at 01:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Kismet

    Hello,
    I work with trauma to be specific my field is Somatic Trauma Resolution. PTSD like any other traumatic symptoms actually can be resolved :).
    What happens is that the survival energy stays in the body and tries to get resolution. So by a trigger, which can be anything from smells, feelings, temperature etc. our system sees it as an opportunity to resolve the trauma if it is not allowed to discharge, which usually happens in our societies by staying in the neocortex (frontal brain, rational brain), the energy stays in the system and has an opportunity to wrack havoc on our being by developing all kind of symptoms. We are designed by nature to have this innate ability to heal. This is of course a very simple explanation if you want to find out more about Somatic Trauma Resolution you can go to SomaticTraumaResolution.org or check out Dr. Peter Levine or Gina Ross or Dr. Scaer. Science is slowly recognizing and understanding the concept of Bodymindspirit (yes one word) If you have PTSD or other traumatic occurrences or unexplainable symptoms in your live seek out a practitioner.
    Kismet

    May 28, 2009 at 21:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ambika

      Hi Kismat,

      I am from India but I live in US for a long time. My PTSD is in a unique area. Actually I have never heard such case of PTSD ever. My father indirectly forced me to go for higer studies in Universtiy. He was a great writer and journalist and wanted his children to go for scholarly pursuits. I was on the other hand was in love with music which he never cared to promote or support. Being mentally threatend by his literary reputation I unwillingly accepted going to do Masters in Arts after finishing by UnderGrads. Deep down in my heart I knew that I did not like his idea but since he never appreciated my talents in music I never developed the confidence to put my foot down and also believed that if I am not like him then may be I am not worthy. I was always intelligent but not scholarly and I had to study and research tons of material which I failed to do because I was not an avid and fast reader. As a result I tried to force myself to study and got panicked and tried to read texts faster without understanding. It was so painful and I ended up having almost a nervous breakdown, lots of mental and physical stress. I used to love to read whatever I wanted even if I was not an avid reader but after this expereince I developed a phobia for texts and words. I took me two decades to calm my nerves down and try to relearn how to comprehend texts. Especially in situations like taking an exam or preparing for an exam I start having shortness of breath and lack of concentration. By the way this event was life changing in other ways. I totally became constipated after that. Before that event happened was a normal person but became abnormal. It was very unfortunate that my PTSD was involved with reading and comprehending because one cannot avoid that in life. As a matter of fact our success in life depends on that. I had great potential before to go into many areas like learning languages, fine arts, etc but I lost a great deal of my capabilities due to stupid desire of my late father to turn me into a scholar. Now I have retaught myself to take pleasure in reading for fun but I style of approaching reading is not the same and I can easily lose confidence and concentration.
      Do you think SomaticTraumaResolution can help me? As I said my PTSD is unique and is unfortuanately in an area that cannot be avoided and should not be avoided because reading and comprehending is for one's personal growth. I do manage to read and comprehend and even enjoy it to some extent but it is not the same as before and anytime my unconcious mind can get triggered into sort of panic state. Two years of hell at University has ruined my hapiness for life.

      October 25, 2012 at 00:53 | Report abuse |
  17. D L

    YES – YES – YES – PTSD can be helped a great deal and often completely cured! And let's just make a small change to those letters ....

    "‘PTSD = Post Traumatic Stress Disorder’ should be changed to ‘PTSR = Post Traumatic Stress Response’ because your symptoms are a normal response to what happened to you (in an abnormal circumstance) and they are NOT a ‘disorder’!”
    – Peter Levine, Ph.D.

    I recommend EVERYONE, who has or presently experiences any symptoms due to trauma, to look into SE (SOMATIC EXPERIENCING) or STR (SOMATIC TRAUMA RESOLUTION). There are also 2 books I HIGHLY recommend: "Beyond the trauma vortex into the healing vortex – a guide for you" by Gina Ross and if your trauma is car related, please read "Crash Course" by Diane Poole-Heller & Larry Heller.

    TRAUMA/PTSD is not about the intensity of the event experienced, but rather how intensely the shock/trauma experience(d) affected your nervous system!

    All your body is trying to do is complete an interrupted impulse which happened when you were unable to fight or flight and probably froze in the event because the circumstance became too much to handle at that time and so you had to disassociate somehow in order to survive what happened to you.

    Look for SE (Somatic Experiencing) practitioners or STR (Somatic Trauma Resolution) practitioners .... and start healing! Don't give up on your search for healing .... you don't have to stay stuck with the symptoms!!!! And like Carl Jung said ... find the "right" practitioner for YOU.

    May 29, 2009 at 00:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. D L

    Here are a few sources which might be helpful:
    http://traumahealing.com/
    http://www.beyondthetraumavortex.com/
    http://beyondtraumasymptoms.blogspot.com/

    May 29, 2009 at 01:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Kismet

    ahh DL you rock thank you I am glad that you posted and sound very excited about it. I love my work and I see the results on a daily basis.
    Thank you for your post let the healing begin and the old belief of we have to endure slip away

    Kismet

    May 29, 2009 at 13:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Alicia

    My father-in-law was in the Korean War and was twice severely injured (the first time he requested to go back when he was released from the hospital). He was the only man in his unit to make it home and he has shrapnel in his body to this day. The war was over 50 years ago and he still suffers from it with nightmares, sleep problems and panic attacks. He's had a successful life and has been a leader in many capacities for all of it, but this haunts him. He has spoken to a lot of groups (especially high school students) about the real face of war on Veterans Day and Memorial Day. He has never recovered from PTSD but he has soldiered on (literally) and used it to do immeasurable good. He's my hero.

    I have PTSD for very different reasons stemming from my childhood. Funny how this little redhead woman and this nearly 80 year-old bear of a man can have so much in common. I went on to work with battered women and victims of sexual assault, and used my experiences to be there for others.

    You get through it, and you find a new normal. If you can find a way to use it to help others then there's a feeling of beating it, even if you are still changed from what you lived through.

    May 29, 2009 at 13:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Lisa Thompson

    my son was admitted to robert wood johnson childrens hospital on may 20 2009 for a scoliosis surgery. on may 21 at 8pm he went into a coma. they claim his pressure from his hydrocephalus went up, others say he had a stroke. they tell us they don’t know why this happened but my son will never wake up again. i’m asking for anyone to help us.

    May 29, 2009 at 14:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Ann

    I am quite sure that I do have PTSD from several things that have happened in my life. I was married to an abusive man who verbally and physically abused me. We are no longer married. But the few times since then I have even had to be in the same room with him I just shake uncontrollably and am very nauseous.

    I had a medical situation that was very traumatic both physically and emotionally. It went on for over 8 months resulted in a life changing medical surgery that will always be permanent. I even dream about this, and because I live with this medical condition which has change my life so much I am always remined of it and I just don't know how I can get out of the dread and fear over this situation that cannot be reversed medically. Its not going to end my life. I used to cry about it in the beginning but now I just can't I am just fearful. I am already taking antidepressants.

    June 5, 2009 at 14:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Kathy

    I want to echo ACinCincy's reply. During my pregnancy I had preeclampsia and a traumatic birth experience, and since then have connected with other mothers with similar experiences - this issue desperately needs more study. Men, childless women, and women who did not have traumatic birth experiences simply don't get it. I've talked to mothers who have been told they should "be happy" and "get over" what happened to them because their child is healthy. It doesn't work that way, and far too many people - including medical professionals - need education on this.

    June 9, 2009 at 11:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. susan varsames

    I find that PSTD cannot be immediately healed but symptoms can "fade over time" if therapy focuses on somato-emotional release or something like Emotional Freedom Techniques. The event has to be revisited with a sense of what it has taught the patient, and after the patient accepts what has happened and can manage to determine how that life lesson can change the course of their history in a positive way, the symptoms begin to subside.

    June 9, 2009 at 18:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Ramona Randall

    I agree with your experience. It has been 19 years since I have been overseas and there are items that trigger these thoughts. Thanks for informing people that what we have experience is real but does not have to control our lives.

    June 15, 2009 at 22:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Jan Bischak

    I would love to see CNN do more to address PTSD and other disabilities and the rights of children to services and accommodations in the schools and the rights of all under 504, ADA, and IDEA . It is wonderful to discuss whether these disorders are permanent or not, but what about educating society about the rights of children to not have to be repeatedly exposed to triggers. Imagine being a child who had your hat, and having to see your teacher every morning walk in with such a hat? Children who have been through traumatic events need to feel safe. I find sarcasm, and intimidation widespread in class rooms where many children are forced into complete withdrawal
    due to their already over traumatized lives. While trying to advocate in such situations I have faced defensiveness, anger, resentment and attacks from teachers, administrators and school boards. Our children deserve a "safe" education and those interacting with them each day to be properly trained and understand the psychological impact they have on the students.

    June 18, 2009 at 20:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. PTSDVictimsSpouse

    PTSD is just as hard on the victim's spouse or significant other. This is not a 'mental issue', it is a real outcome of a very real trauma to a person. Unfortunately, there is little that can be done no matter how much you want to help your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend. I would have very much appreciated being able to speak to other partners who were supporting their S.O. in dealing with PTSD. The symptoms may fade, but they can just as suddenly and spontaneously attack, which is what makes PTSD so hard to deal with. You just keep being revictimized over and over again. It's a psychological beating every time it happens. For those of you with spouses or S.O.'s with PTSD, understand that the person you are with has changed _for_ _ever_ and will NOT be the same person you married or are dating, etc. I wish to God there were treatments for this, but there _are_ none.

    June 27, 2009 at 12:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Jerry Wesch

    I spend all day treating PTSD soldiers. Many do get through their PTSD symptoms but it requires more than talk therapy and medications.

    Combining cognitive therapy and other talk treatments with EMDR, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), massage, biofeedback, energy therapy like Reiki seem to be crucial in creating a holistic healing response. Part of the process is knocking down the hyperarousal to allow some ability to control the anxiety and restore a sense of self-efficacy. Then the "stuck" unfinished experiences can be tackled and healed. PTSD patients need hope and a willingness to do whatever it takes, as long as it takes...

    September 23, 2009 at 06:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Linda Weidner

    I was recently diagnosed with PTSD, Claustrophobia, Agoraphobia, hypervigilance anxiety and dissociation disorder. Gee it's no wonder I was in a fog for several years. I feel a little better since I had 4 Psycotherapy sessions. I was beaten with a belt by my father from when I was really small up until I was 16, left home and got married .

    My husband is a saint to put up with me for all these years. He recently had open heart surgery and abdominal aorta repair. Years ago we had a child who had hydrocephalis and died at 2 years old. We have a grown child who has been on drugs for the past 30 years. After my son divorced I lost all contact with my first grandchild. That devastated me. I also was the target of a bully at work. To anyone who has been bullied, my heart goes out to you. That really messed with my mind. I was forced to retire early due to severe arthritis in my fingers. I loved my job and wanted to get my 30 years in but I only ever got to 29 years. I became suicidal.

    I had no idea what was wrong with my head. I thought I had altzheimers. I had a series of tests that showed nothing so I was sent to a Psychotherapist. I'm on Buspar now in addition to my Wellbutrin. It will be a long haul but thank God I found help. I was told that what I have is "treatable" which I take it that I won't be cured. I never would have thought of PTSD in a million years. I thought only soldiers got that.

    November 9, 2009 at 19:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Anon A Moose

    As I was sitting here crying at a recent trigger that forced me to experience the MVA i had at 14 that permanently disabled me, I came across your site. Although it has been acknowledged for years that I have PTSD I still encounter ignorance in forms like " it was so long ago can't you just get over it ?"Although it should upset me to know there is no cure; that news oddly enough makes me feel better now I know there is nothing "wrong" with me and I am not just malingering as I have been accused of many time in the past 17 years.
    On a side note for te posters who gave us the link to:SomaticTraumaResolution.org You should not be advertising on here. It kind of offends a trauma survivor such as myself, who has for the record, wasted thousands on your type of treatment as well as other miracle cures that led me to believe if I tried hard enough or wanted it enough I would be fine. Didn't happen and shame on you for useing the pain and suffering of the people who came here for a little information and comfor for your own personal gain.

    November 15, 2009 at 05:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. carmen

    you are wrong i recovered from ptsd

    November 15, 2009 at 16:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Teresa

    Hello,

    It is always a difficult thing as a survivor of trauma and sufferer from PTSD to tell your story. Thank you Dr. Gupta for doing that–it takes much bravery and internal strength. I think, also, that it is hard when you are in the immediate throws of traumatic experience and the aftermath of PTSD to see outside of it–very understandably so. I remember sitting on the side of traumatic experience where I thought there could be no relief or release and unable to find anyone that would insinuate otherwise. It is, again, so understandable to be so deep inside the pain of trauma and not yet in on a path of reprieve and healing that it is hard to imagine real healing or reprieve is possible.

    I am a trauma therapist who has worked extensively with combat veterans, survivors of sexual trauma, sufferers of domestic violence, war torture and a variety of other traumatic issues to include chronic illness, eating disorders, and addictions. I have also integrated an extensive amount of mindfulness practices, mind/body techniques, yoga methods, animal-bond therapies and creative arts to facilitate healing in my own recovery as a trauma survivor over the years and in present day in the lives of my clients. I have found that a multitude of approaches can facilitate a great amount of healing even to the point of being curative in most respects.

    Can things be triggering to a person with traumatic history? Yes. But that does not PTSD make. PTSD is misunderstood so often and in that there are a lot of professionals and survivors alike giving themselves or their clients these, as I call them, "terminal PTSD diagnosis". Telling people with PTSD that they have it forever, there is no way out, is beyond demoralizing it is minimizing a human's ability to heal or (as we have learned from the study of neuroplasticity in the brain) the brain's capacity, neurologically, to CHANGE ITSELF.

    We learn survival response in overload during traumatic experience and when it gets "stuck" PTSD ensues. PTSD is a cluster of sever symptoms that equal up to a disorder by definition. We are all effected by the things that happen in our lives and painful experience leaves a mark. We cannot erase the existence of traumatic experience from our memories but there is possibility to heal the traumatic response and that stuckness of the survival mechanism so that one is not diagnostically, by definition, a sufferer of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

    Are there moments we are reminded of painful experience? Yes. Are there moments that might trigger that memory? Yes. But we also have a way to pull ourselves out–body, mind, and spirit–of the PTSD of trauma and live a healthful life. I have done this and I work to help others do the same daily as a trauma therapist. I believe in neuroplasticity, the brain's capacity to change and essentially heal itself back to repair. I believe in all of our abilities to find our own resilience and wellness. These things are not easy and there is a process but I will not tell my clients that their PTSD is terminal–this was not true for me and I don't believe it has to be true for others.

    All my best wishes, prayers, and hopes for healing to all those suffering from PTSD and to yourself Dr. Gupta–I believe in your potential to heal and find wellness!

    Teresa Bennett Pasquale, LCSW
    http://www.embodymentalhealth.com

    March 7, 2010 at 16:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Raven

    The symptoms of PTSD can never go away completely. Diminished as the article says, but for them to completely go away can't happen. PTSD actually re-wires the bran, I've found this out in my research of it myself. Probably the main reason why they won't go away is the memories won't completely go away.. you've been changed by whatever experience you had. I have war related PTSD, and it's been more then 7 years and I'm still not the way I was before war. One must learn to accept this and integrate it into their lives as a person

    July 18, 2010 at 17:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Zaira

    Awesome article! Thanks for this great article.This is so informative.

    August 6, 2010 at 03:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Missing link

    PTSD can be cured using CBT. It completely depends on the person, their belief in the treatment process, and their attitude about what recovery means. PTSD can be used for secondary gain by some people. It is much easier to stay "sick" than to work on getting better.

    September 21, 2010 at 08:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Millard

    Thanks for all of the great advice here regarding PTSD. I was recently diagnosed with it after an abusive relationship in which my wife attacked me numerous times in front of my children along with her drug abuse that bankrupted me. My wife also gave away our life savings in cash to a childhood friend who is a career criminal that I warned her about. The memories of going through these episodes have not stopped and this was 5 years ago. For the longest time I thought that this was only something that happens to war veterans (god bless them), but as my therapist dug deep into my past I suffered numerous life altering and dibilitating events that have caused me to be in a constant state of panic, nightmares in which I am afraid to sleep, and dibilitating panic attacks. It has caused a rift in basically all of my relationships and I fear I will never have a solid relationship with another person as long as I live. Frightened about the future is an understatement. I've been unable to hold a solid job (It has cost me 2 six figure jobs and ruined my reputation), turned to alcohol to escape (which only made things profoundly worse) and have had run-ins with the law. Most people think I'm crazy now and maybe I am. One episode got so bad that I attempted suicide. For the longest time they diagnosed me with panic disorder and although some medications have helped ease the symptoms, the scars are still there and I have not moved forward. I placed my children with their Aunt and Uncle and even signed custody over to them because I am in no shape to care for them on a daily basis and I will not let their mother have custodial rights due to her issues. Being diagnosed with PTSD has come as sort of a relief to know that there is an actual disorder that I am dealing with, and I trust that my therapists will help me at least come to grips with this and understand the triggers that cause me to fall into my funks. I am an eternal optimist and I believe that you can get over this, but some of what I have read on this page really scares me. I don't want to go through life having to deal with these emotional scars. Those of you who have said that you have been cured by numerous methods gives me hope of one day getting back to the real me. I was once the life of the party and one of the happiest people that you could meet. Today I am a shell of what I once was. I'm trusting in my therapy and god that one day I can be the man I once was. I pray for everyone on here to believe the same because it appears to me that some have given up and I have been close, but I'm not giving up and I hope the rest of you don't either. I'm going to fight this with all my power in order that my kids have a father that they can be proud of. I understand the guilt, shame, and futility that goes along with this, but to give up hope to me is scarier than what we are going through. I wish nothing but continued progress and healing for all of you.

    January 6, 2011 at 10:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Kali Lynn

    i can cure PTSD but am not sure how to proceed! Dr. Gupta – email me so we can talk. I am serious. I cure it in myself. It will work for others.

    July 8, 2012 at 06:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. jahke berkley

    wow i didn't know that....well yhu learn something knew everyday

    December 6, 2012 at 13:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Mary Talent

    I was diagnosed with PTSD after being violently attacked by a domestic partner. This was a few years ago. Definitely it is not as bad as it was initially but every once in a while it creeps its way back into my mind. Sometimes I will think I see him walking down the street but when I get closer I realize its not him. This is accompanied by a feeling of panic. I have come to realize that I may have to deal with this for the rest of my life. The only way I think one could be cured of PTSD is to have their brain erased but as far as I know they don't do lobotomies anymore. I cope by trying to focus on the good things in life, cherish that I survived the attack and I also strongly recommend owning a pet or two or ten because they somehow seem to make things feel right.

    June 19, 2013 at 19:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. diqiuren

    I am not a doctor, but I can help cure PTSD. As PTSD is not a physical phenomenon, it is experiential, it can easily be resolved. I have assisted many people who have in turn assisted many many people. In fact I learned the technique in and applied it to another in order for it to be applied to me. The technique is some thing almost any one can learn to help such afflicted people. It is some thing one does for another. It can take some hours. My so called/diagnosed PTSD was completely resolved in about 30 minutes. The length of time can vary from individual to individual, from 30 minutes to several or more hours. But any one receiving the technique must not be taking any medication, and cannot be used on any one taking psychotropic drugs. People can be freed of psychotropic substance addiction or affliction with naturopathic treatments commonly available under the supervision of a Naturopathic Doctor or an Ayervedic Doctor, or a Homeopathic Doctor and will experience incredible relief of their stress.

    August 3, 2013 at 13:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. nat

    I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder, concurrent with severe panic attacks/social anxiety following a brutal upbringing in a violent, destructive home. around 19 I was drugged at a concert and separated from my friends in Los Angeles, not where I lived. I was taken to a man's house and was beaten and raped for three days. my friends went home. for months following, I experienced complete emotional numbness. I was abusing drugs and running from my real issues. two years later, after being fired from an amazing job and burning countless bridges with my erratic, emotional behavior, I finally have found peace. I have been able to sit with my thoughts and air out why I am so angry at the world. there are two types of people in the world: victims and survivors. when you learn to overcome your obstacles and live with no fear is when you feel truly free, and consequently, with the peace the compulsions and anxiety will slowly dissipate. to defeat depression, we must rip up the cracked foundation which we have built negativity and sadness out of. starting fresh allows you to pay attention to positive instead of negative, always carry the newfound strength with you and that is what will bring you to true happiness. creation from destruction.

    December 15, 2013 at 04:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Conrad Griego

    Coaching is seriously valuable, It transformed my existence

    http://www.thefrenchhypnotist.com

    January 31, 2014 at 23:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Shara Heiberger

    Excellent post. I love Hypnosis

    http://www.thefrenchhypnotist.com

    January 31, 2014 at 23:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. http://l2u.co

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  45. K. Aldaya

    I think the problem here is that every form of PTSD is different and there is also PTSD and the more complex form of ptsd. The amount of trauma, age of occurrence, social support systems, etc all factor into how severe or long lasting PTSD will be. I think managing symptoms is helpful for all with PTSD but its not realistic to expect all forms of PTSD to be solved or cured while in some cases it is very likely they can almost completely move on from the trauma. The more long lasting the trauma, the earlier the age the more widespread the changes are to the human brain and thus the harder it will be to reverse the damaging changes in the brain. But other factors such as whether they received support soon after the trauma or have good social support in general in their life, as studies have shown those who receive support or have support systems in their lives around the time of the trauma are less likely to develop PTSD or have long lasting effects. Having even one friend or family member on a trauma victims side during the period of initial trauma is so important and makes a significant impact on outcome.

    February 16, 2015 at 19:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Anne T

    I have PTSD following an experience in hospital when I had a hip replacement. I had been bought up to fear doctors because I have a hole in my heart and my parents were over protective. When I had the hip replacement a nurse told me her granny had died of the operation. The anaesthetist told me I would die if I had the operation, the ambulance people who took me to have a heart check and all clear were unkind, the heart specialist was very rude to me – I had been taken back to the private hospital not knowing that he needed to see me and he came in very cross with me for not waiting – I did not know I had to – I woke up during the operation, I woke up in recovery with no one there. Now I am even more frightened of doctors and hospitals – how do you 'avoid' that situation and recover?

    March 11, 2015 at 14:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. I Be Here For You

    At http;//ibehereforyou.com/ you have sincere and caring phone conversation. What you want or need to talk about is entirely up to you. I be here for you!

    March 11, 2015 at 17:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Anne T

    Has anyone had kinesology? It is weird but it has helped .

    May 13, 2015 at 12:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. james r

    im in my mid 40's and i have had ptsd for most of my life, stemming from 3 deaths of close family members in less than a year when i was 12, first my father was killed in a car wreck, a few months later my grandmother went in for surgery and never left the hospital and on the first day of school 6th grade my grandfather had a heart attack and died, i was very close to and raised by my grandparents so their deaths hit me very hard, and turned my world upside down, i started getting in trouble at school, skipping school, getting into fights, had a bad anger problem from it and would have terrible (sometimes violent) mood swings. because of my grandmother lengthy hospital stay we lost my grandfathers house due to the bills, in the 6th grade i went to 7 different schools from either having to move or getting expelled. then by the end of the school year i was placed in a group home for about 7 months, when it was closed down i returned home to my mother. about 3 months after i was returned some kids i didnt get along with made up some story that i pulled a survival knife on them in the middle of class and i was arrested when i went to court it was proved that they were lying but this was Kentucky in the mid 80's i had been in front of that same judge a few times before for truancy, alcohol, and fighting so i was sent to a boys camp anyway, where i was physically and mentally abused, i was locked up for almost 3 years there. when i did get out i wouldnt go around people in general, i was always scared someone just had to say i did something and i would get locked back up. if someone who almost fit my description did something i would stay in scared they would say it was me. i spent my 20's like that by the time i was in my 30's it wasnt as bad but still lingered in my thoughts. then a couple years ago i had to go to the hospital( which still conjured up bad memories) to have some stints put in and they said i had a seizure and regurgitated in my lungs so the put me in a medically induced coma for a couple days while my lungs got better, i woke up a few times unable to move or talk, had tubes down my throat, when i woke up i tore the IV's out of my arm and felt like i had to escape the hospital that they were trying to kill me. i felt like i was locked up again and was going to die. all through my late teens and 20's i was obsessed with the thought i was going to die and that all came back like a sledgehammer. withing a year i had to quit my job, from stress, lack of sleep and just a general feeling of dread. now i spend most of my time just trying to live from one day to the next always on edge, still dont sleep at night. the doctor put me on medicine that just seemed to make it worse.even when somthing good happens i always seem to find the bad in it. i feel as this will always be my life no matter what.

    August 13, 2015 at 09:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. natavalismoth

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.