As an individual with post traumatic stress disorder and depression, I've found it extremely difficult to know what to expect for treatment of my disorders. There isn't much written about the average joe out there that either suspects there's a possibility he/she may be experiencing PTSD or those who have been diagnosed with PTSD and have completed some treatment, but don't know what to expect for recovery.

My initial thoughts when seeking a therapist didn't even include thoughts of post traumatic stress disorder. I wasn't feeling well enough to try to self diagnose anything. I was physically and mentally consumed in symptoms of both post traumatic stress and depression. Perhaps this is the stage where you find yourself.

The reason I hadn't thought of PTSD was because I didn't know anything about it. If you're feeling mentally bogged down it might be a good idea to begin to write down the symptoms you are experiencing. You can find symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder through following the link below in my BIO, and it's important to educate yourself as much as possible. It's also a good idea to realize that mental illness is a medical illness and you don't need to be afraid of that fact. The stigma that has been attached to mental illness is dissolving away to nothing. Be sure that the more you learn, the more confident you will feel about this.

If you write down your symptoms, you can more easily relay your distress to whoever you speak to on the telephone when searching for a therapist. It's very important to convey your concern for an experienced therapist with anxiety disorders and depression. This is the type of therapist you need to find. Some therapists treat certain specialties so finding one that will meet your needs will help you to eliminate some of the initial visits you may need to make.

You see, it's rare that someone finds a therapist that they feel comfortable with and is one that will meet their needs on the first try. Some people believe that they must stay with the therapist that they initially choose, but it's not true. That's just a false belief that one can easily discard. Finding a therapist is a very important task that must be taken seriously. Feeling comfortable enough to talk to your therapist is a must.

Some people feel more comfortable speaking about their inner most feelings with a person of the opposite sex. Some feel that it's easier to speak to someone of the same sex. Age may be a factor or some people like to see that the therapist has more than sufficient credentials through educational degrees to feel comfortable with discussing such intimate details. All of these factors are important and unless you know better, you can waste years looking for the right person to meet your needs.

Once you have begun seeing your counselor and have paid a visit to the associated doctor you will receive a diagnosis. This is a very exciting time so expect to feel some relief once you have a name for whatever has been plaguing you. It takes time to begin to see your symptoms begin to dissipate and finally totally disappear. Sometimes you may need to take medications to work on the intensity of your symptoms.

You may need to see your therapist once a week for a few weeks or months. Then you can expect your visits to change over to every other week, then once a month when you are ready. Everyone is different and each situation is different so you must keep that in mind if you are judging your progress in any way. Comparing your progress with others' progress if you know someone who is also in treatment can be frustrating so don't make a habit of it. Each person has different brain chemistry and if you keep that in mind, you won't try to compare your progress with others.

As time goes by you may begin to wonder if you are making progress any longer. Treatment can take years. You may want to voice those concerns to your therapist. Depending upon your type of therapy you may want to explore different types. If your therapist isn't qualified to perform different types of treatments that might prove helpful, you can always get a referral from your therapist to try someone that is qualified. Your records can be transferred and you can also consider this as progress that you are ready to attempt something new!

As I mentioned earlier it's always a good idea to study up and educate yourself about the different types of therapy available, the types of medications that are out there and of course, about your diagnosed illness(es). Science has been very busy in the mental health department and new treatment methods are appearing quite often these days. Perhaps you've started out using talk therapy and you've explored your past, your trauma(s) and your present moment with your current counselor. You may move on to some type of cognitive behavioral therapy and if you can find someone qualified to treat you, EMDR may be helpful.

There are many different types of therapy and we just never know what will help our own individual case or what combination will be useful until we try them. The same could be possible for the medications you have been prescribed. As with my own case after six years of being on one drug, I had concerns that the effects had become less and less over the long period of time. Trying a new prescription is possible if you work closely with your doctor.

A change in medications must be taken on slowly because it takes time to reduce your dosage from the original medication and then when the time is right you must slowly introduce the new medications. Writing down side effects that you may experience is also a good idea and being aware and mindful of how you are feeling every day is just good for you anyway. This way you can double check to see if you are feeling better or the same or even experiencing difficult side effects and need to change your medications again. Sometimes you may need to take an additional medication with the medication you are trying for optimal well being. Everyone is different.

The most important part of any treatment plan is that you stay in tune with how youo are feeling and relay these feelings continually to your therapist and doctor. Communication is key in eliminating distressing symptoms should they occur. One thing about PTSD that you must always be aware of are "triggers" and once you have identified them you can work with your therapist for positive and productive coping mechanisms instead of falling backwards in your treatment plan.

Triggers are reminders of your trauma(s) that may pop up from time to time in your daily life and could spark a symptom of PTSD to begin. You may experience a nightmare, or flashback or just an uncomfortable uneasy feeling. Being one diagnosed with PTSD I know how important it is to recognize and identify all triggers that one experiences because it is important to know when to use our newly developed coping mechanisms instead of falling back on negative or unproductive coping mechanisms.

Finally, I would like to stress that everyone is different. It's not appropriate to judge your progress by listening to someone else or by going by a book or article you may have read about someone else who has PTSD. Be kind and gentle with yourself as you have experienced a very difficult experience through your trauma. If you go backwards in treatment, well, you must just take a sigh of relief that you know you can go back to where you were in a very short time now that you know the way there.

Author's Bio: 

Kathleen Howe has been diagnosed with PTSD and depression seven years ago and since has been studying about mental illness, lifestyle factors that affect mental and physical illnesses, eating disorders, sleep disorders, abuse and the effects of abuse on mental health, and how parenting factors can affect developing mental health. She has designed a network of 30+ websites that interact with each other for self helpers who are working on personal growth/recovery journeys. You can see the extent of her network by visiting the home page of her network.