Can Telehealth Be Used to Treat PTSD?
Approximately one in every 11 people will live with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at some point in their lives. Despite the prevalence of this disorder, a lack of awareness persists in many social circles. That’s why we take the time to honor PTSD Awareness Day each 27th of June.
If you are one of the millions of people in the United States living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), you know that getting the help you need can be difficult enough without a global pandemic. In light of the novel coronavirus, many people worry about the safety of in-person appointments, making treatment even more evasive.
With all of this in mind, many wonder whether telehealth appointments can help people with PTSD. The complex nature of the disorder may make some people skeptical of online PTSD treatment, but research shows that it can be effective.
Telehealth Removes Some Barriers to Care
Whether the country is experiencing a pandemic or not, people often face significant barriers to getting PTSD treatment. Some of the factors that keep people from getting mental health care for PTSD include:
- Little or no providers nearby
- Mobility differences that make it difficult to leave home
- Fear of transportation, public spaces, or leaving home
- Too busy to commute to and from therapy weekly
- Lack of childcare of other resources needed to leave home
When people with PTSD or other mental health disorders face these obstacles, they often cannot get care at all. Going without care for PTSD can be dangerous and even fatal. Telehealth allows people with PTSD to get help, even in the face of these challenges.
Online Therapy for PTSD
Online therapy can be just as effective as in-person therapy for reducing depression and anxiety symptoms in people with PTSD. In December of 2010, the research journal Cognitive Behavioural Therapypublished a meta-analysis that supports the use of teletherapy to treat PTSD-related depression.
The researchers looked at 13 different studies that compared the effects of in-person and online therapy for patients with PTSD-related depression. The comprehensive analysis found that both sets of patients decreased the severity of symptoms with no significant difference between the two groups.
In 2015, the Journal of Clinical Psychology published a study that compared teletherapy to in-person sessions for treating PTSD-related anxiety. This research found that therapy helped veterans with PTSD-related anxiety. Furthermore, there was no significant difference between those who received in-person therapy and those who had teletherapy.
More research is likely to come as telehealth becomes more popular. For now, it seems clear now that teletherapy is significantly more effective than going without treatment, and that online therapy may be as effective as in-person therapy for treating PTSD symptoms.
Telehealth Psychiatry for PTSD
While therapy is often the first-line treatment for PTSD, many patients also need medication. The type of medication depends on the exact symptoms the person experiences. For example, people who are on high-alert due to PTSD may need anti-anxiety medication. Online psychiatry can allow such patients to get the care they need.
In an online psychiatry appointment, patients and their providers discuss the patients:
- Current medications
- Overall health
- Treatment plan
- Medication options
These conversations allow psychiatrists and psychiatric advanced nurse practitioners to prescribe medication for PTSD-related symptoms. This medication is equally effective whether the visit took place online or in-person. Patients should follow up with their providers through medication management appointments.
Are you ready to try telehealth as part of your PTSD treatment plan? LifeStance Health is here to help. Click here to find a provider in your area and get started.