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Understanding PTSD Stigmas and Progressive Treatment Approaches

PUBLISHED ON: 12.01.2023
header image for ptsd stigmas picturing a wooden figure head cracked into pieces

Post-traumatic stress disorder, more commonly referred to as PTSD, is a mental health disorder that individuals may develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, serious accident, terrorist act, war or combat, rape, or other violent personal assault. Characterized by intense fear, helplessness, and horror, PTSD can afflict anyone, ranging from military personnel and veterans to individuals who’ve experienced personal trauma. Despite its prevalence, PTSD and those who suffer from it are often subject to a profound social stigma that hampers their recovery process.


Affecting close to 3.5% of the U.S. population, PTSD can occur at any age and affects approximately one in six individuals in their lifetime, making it a serious mental illness. However, despite these alarming numbers, a staggering fact is that an estimated half of those suffering from PTSD do not receive the treatment they need. A primary reason for this is the notorious stigma associated with PTSD which contributes to the avoidance of diagnosis and treatment.


PIMSY EHR, a leading Electronic Health Record software, aims to change this reality. Designed specifically for mental and behavioral health providers, PIMSY assists in streamlining practice management, enhancing patient portal interaction, and simplifying medical billing. It aids in the delivery of efficient mental health care to those who need it the most. For patients with PTSD, service members, and their families, PIMSY EHR bridges the gap between suffering in silence and receiving much-needed help. 


Whether you’re a mental health provider, a PTSD patient, or a loved one seeking understanding and ways to help, this article climbs beneath the surface of PTSD, its associated stigmas, its adverse effect on care, and delves into the emerging therapeutic treatments for PTSD, including the innovative approach of psychedelic therapy. Stick with us as we unravel a significant issue impacting millions today and how modern tools like PIMSY EHR are reshaping the landscape.


Understanding PTSD Stigmas


PTSD stigmas refer to negative attitudes, preconceptions, or stereotypes related to PTSD that can lead to discrimination and avoidance of individuals suffering from the disorder. 


These stigmas can be deeply ingrained in social, medical, institutional, and familial structures, and have a lasting and harmful impact on those living with the condition.


Many PTSD sufferers, particularly service members and veterans, often face stigmas associated with seeking help for their condition. This is due to beliefs held by society and within the military itself that seeking help for mental health conditions is a sign of weakness or inadequacy. Such labels can jeopardize the careers and social status of those serving in the armed forces.


These stigmas extend to civilians, too. Traumatic experiences and the subsequent mental health problems from events like natural disasters or personal assaults are often minimized, leading to belittling comments such as “You should be over it by now” or “It wasn’t that bad, was it?”


Family members of PTSD sufferers are also adversely affected by these stigmas. They may carry feelings of guilt or stigma by association, which can deter them from seeking their mental health services as well. 


Highly complex, PTSD stigmas consist of layers of prejudice, ignorance, and misconceptions. While it’s natural for humans to fear what they don’t understand, this fear — in the form of stigma — is exacerbating the current PTSD crisis.


Groundbreaking studies and previous research have shed some light on the pervasiveness of PTSD stigmas. One systematic review published in the Journal of Mental Health showed that negative attitudes towards PTSD patients were present regardless of whether the population was military or civilian. Stigma levels were found to be higher in active-duty military personnel but were also significant in veterans, indicating that PTSD stigmas don’t necessarily disappear once veterans leave active service. 


The impact and manifestation of these stigmas vary among individuals and their environment, highlighting the necessity to contextualize PTSD stigmas further. Comprehending the extent of these stigmas forms a pivotal step in dismantling them and improving the delivery and effectiveness of mental health care services.


PTSD Stigmas and Their Effects on Proper Care


Abound with misinterpretations and misguided beliefs, the corrosive stigmas attached to PTSD can have detrimental effects on a patient’s mental health care. Most immediately, these stigmas can hinder the accessibility and utilization of mental health services by those affected.


PTSD is a treatable condition, but the surrounding stigmas create an invisible boundary that prevents many affected individuals from seeking professional help. Fear of being ‘branded’ by their diagnosis and of subsequent discrimination can cause them to delay or even entirely avoid seeking help for PTSD symptoms. The tragic irony here is that the avoidance and delay of treatment can cause PTSD symptom severity to escalate, creating a damaging cycle that becomes hard to break. 


Early intervention is crucial in managing PTSD effectively. Yet, the time taken to seek treatment by military veterans with PTSD can often extend up to 12 years or more from the onset of symptoms. This delay, often stigma-induced, exposes them to a risk of developing additional conditions like depression, substance use disorder, and other serious mental illnesses.


The effects of stigma don’t stop at the patient level – they extend to family members, too. Fear, embarrassment, or stigma by association may deter family members from reaching out to mental health providers for help. From feeling embarrassed to attend community support groups to hesitating to discuss a loved one’s condition at work or social events, the reach of stigmas is far and powerful.


Moreover, stigmas persist within the healthcare sector itself. Bias against individuals with mental disorders like PTSD can lead to inadequate care, misdiagnosis, or overreliance on psychotropic medication without considering other vital aspects of mental health care, further encumbering the treatment process.


Breaking the chains of stigma and reestablishing the truth about PTSD is critical for improving the lives of those affected and their access to effective treatment. The more we understand about PTSD, the better we can support the individuals who endure it daily and assist them on their path to recovery. It’s essential to remember that PTSD is not a sign of weakness—it’s simply the body’s natural response to a traumatic event. The strength lies in seeking help.


PTSD Treatment Methods

Variety is a mainstay in PTSD treatment options, ensuring there’s a method that suits each individual’s unique needs. Among the most effective treatments include Cognitive Processing Therapy, Prolonged Exposure therapy, Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, and medication choices like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).


Cognitive therapies, like Cognitive Processing Therapy, involve working closely with a mental health provider to identify and address upsetting thoughts and feelings about the traumatic event. Prolonged Exposure therapy requires patients to repeatedly revisit their traumatic event under the careful supervision of mental health professionals, which desensitizes them to their triggers over time. 


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is another popular PTSD treatment method. Here, patients recall their traumatic event while simultaneously following the movements of the therapist’s finger, causing lessened emotional responses to their trauma in due course. Other PTSD patients may find relief through prescribed medications that help manage depression, anxiety, and sleep problems often associated with the condition.


Approaching a mental health provider can be a daunting task, especially when stigma hangs over the diagnosis. Yet, it’s vital to remember that these are professionals committed to helping and their primary goal is their patient’s recovery and comfort.


PIMSY EHR has built a reputation for being a reliable and effective tool for both PTSD patients and their caregivers. By integrating services such as practice management, patient data, and medical billing, PIMSY ensures that people get the help they need when they need it. It offers a safe and secure platform for providers to deliver and keep track of mental health treatment, making access to care and monitoring progress simpler than ever. 


Reaching out for professional help is the first step on the road to recovery— a road that, though rough, doesn’t have to be navigated alone. With numerous PTSD treatment methods available, overcoming PTSD becomes not just a possibility but a reality.


Exploring Psychedelic Therapy for PTSD Treatment

mushroom and molecule held with medical glove

Emerging from the shadows of stigma, psychedelic therapy is a frontier in PTSD treatment that is garnering increasing recognition. This innovative treatment involves the usage of psychoactive substances, like LSD, psilocybin, MDMA, and ayahuasca, under the strict guidance of a mental health provider.


Psychedelic therapy offers unique mechanisms for dealing with PTSD. By evoking self-discovery and emotional revelation, it can probe deeply into the psyche. By producing non-ordinary states of consciousness that can elicit significant insights and catharsis, it allows for an in-depth exploration of traumatic experiences and their associated emotions that traditional therapies may not easily access.


An FDA-approved study built around the usage of MDMA, also known as Ecstasy, for PTSD treatment has shown promising results building up to its final phase. The preliminary results were so positive that the FDA granted ‘breakthrough therapy’ status to the treatment, recognizing it may have significant advantages over currently available methods.


Moreover, certain strains of magic mushrooms, typified by their active ingredient psilocybin, are not just known for their psychedelic effects but are also garnering interest for their potential in mental health treatment. A handful of small studies have indicated that psilocybin-assisted therapy can provide long-term relief of PTSD symptoms.


Despite these advances and the encouraging results, the use of psychedelic therapy is only recommended under the strict supervision of medical professionals familiar with these substances and their potent effects.


In conclusion, the journey for individuals with PTSD can be challenging, but professional help, innovative treatments, and support tools like PIMSY EHR can make this journey less daunting. As we continue to strive for better understanding and treatment of PTSD, it’s important to fight the stigmas and provide those affected with the support they need.


Remember, the first step in dealing with PTSD is acknowledging it – without shame, guilt, or stigma. From the initial diagnosis through treatment and recovery, remember: you are not alone, there is help available, and recovery is within reach.




“Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)” SAMHSA, Accessed November 21, 2023. Accessed November 20, 2023.

“The safety and efficacy of ±3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine-assisted psychotherapy in subjects with chronic, treatment-resistant posttraumatic stress disorder: the first randomized controlled pilot study” National Library of Medicine, Accessed November 21, 2023.

“How Common is PTSD in Adults?” PTSD: National Center for PTSD, Accessed November 20, 2023.

“NIMH – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” National Institute of Mental Health, Accessed November 17, 2023.

“Eye Movement Desensitizing and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy” Clinical Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Accessed November 20, 2023.

“Cognitive Processing Therapy”, Accessed November 20, 2023.

“Overview – SSRI Antidepressants – NHS” NHS UK, Accessed November 20, 2023.

“Effects of PTSD”, US Department of Veteran Affairs, Accessed November 17, 2023.

“Examining military population and trauma type as moderators of treatment outcome for first-line psychotherapies for PTSD: A meta-analysis” National Library of Medicine, Accessed November 21, 2023.

“Prolonged Exposure (PE)” American Psychological Association, Accessed November 21, 2023.

Jayne Kay
Author: Jayne Kay

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