How to treat PTSD?

sazuna45 asks: My cousin is almost sixteen, and she’s had PTSD since she was thirteen. Now there are many reasons behind PTSD, but everything has been cut out, except for sexual abuse. She says there’s a high chance she’s been sexually abused (not raped, luckily). She says she doesn’t remember the full incident, just bits. She’s generally happy now, not knowing and moving on and all. But there are still hard times and her PTSD is getting worse. There’s no way to cure PTSD, as everyone says but it can get better. Right? Can you please suggest something that’ll make her PTSD get better?

Hi sazuna45 –

PTSD is a term that gets thrown around a lot these days.  People tend to think of it as a bad reaction to something bad that happened to them.  Actually, it’s pretty specific, and pretty awful.  The letters stand for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  It is a psychological condition brought on by something so traumatic as to be either life-threatening, or – and this is important – “a threat to the physical integrity of oneself or others.”  So while lots of us can suffer the effects of something scaring us (“Paranormal Activity” anyone?!  Or that night I had a nightmare that I was attacked by a gang of Siamese Cats?!?!), true PTSD comes from really feeling threatened.  And yes, sexual abuse of a child can cause it, because the child may feel their physical integrity threatened.

So it sounds like she has symptoms that have made others say she appears to have PTSD.  My question, sazuna45, is – if this is true, why is her loving cousin writing to a loving dog about this?  If she truly is suffering this badly, she should be seeing a therapist now.  And there are two reasons for the urgency.  First, because it’s really debilitating for a person to go through that.  But second, if she truly was molested and isn’t remembering it well enough, a good therapist might help her remember more details – such as who did this to her – and that might help her stop this person from doing these things to other children!

So I only have that one suggestion for her.  Get to a therapist.  There are specialists in Trauma Recovery, who use all sorts of cool techniques like hypnosis and meditation – and a really amazing one called EMDR which involves her moving her eyes in certain ways, which tends to work really well.  But no one can do this for her online – most certainly not a dog (though watching my tail wag might have some of that EMDR effect!).

So please, sazuna45, help her get to a therapist as soon as possible.  And when she does, let me know!


Good Luck – you’re a great cousin!



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