PTSD Treatment Requires a Deep Understanding of Trauma and Timely Access to Care

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By John Langlow, Medical Director

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. The disorder affects millions worldwide— approximately 6% of the U.S. population will experience PTSD at some point in their lives and the prevalence rate is even higher among veterans. 

People suffering from PTSD exhibit symptoms that fall into four broad categories: 

  • Obsessive thoughts: Repetition of the traumatic event, unwanted memories, flashbacks, or nightmares. 
  • Avoidance: Avoiding places, activities, or people that remind the person of the traumatic event. 
  • Negative changes in thinking and mood: Negative views of oneself or the world, distorted feelings of guilt or blame, and pervasive panic or fear. 
  • Signs of arousal and reaction: Easily startled, stressed, difficulty falling asleep, and outbursts of anger. 

Recognizing these symptoms can help in the diagnosis of PTSD and underscores the importance of taking a compassionate, empathetic approach to care. Trauma can produce other disorders, including anxiety disorders and depression. These may also need assessment and treatment. 

John Langlow, MD, MBA

“A risk-driven clinical screening process can provide valuable insights into individual members, allowing for early detection of PTSD risk factors and quicker routing to evidence-based care”

John Langlow, MD, MBA – Medical Director

Approaching professional treatment 

Professional help is needed to manage PTSD. An untreated condition can worsen over time, impacting every aspect of life—from relationships to work and overall well-being.  A therapist with expertise in trauma can guide a person suffering from PTSD by helping them process the traumatic event and develop healthy coping mechanisms. This can significantly reduce the intensity and frequency of symptoms, allowing them to reclaim control of their life. 

When treating patients with PTSD, therapists often use evidence-based therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), which have shown significant success in treating PTSD. CBT helps patients reframe negative thought patterns, while EMDR uses guided eye movements to process and integrate traumatic memories. According to the American Psychological Association, about 77% of patients show improvement after undergoing these therapies. Serious cases can benefit from medication to help with sleep and nightmares. 

Ensuring timely, appropriate access  

Despite the critical need for help, many individuals living with PTSD find accessing essential mental health care to be an uphill battle, with wait times often exceeding three months for an initial visit. Health plans can leverage technology and clinical expertise to bridge this gap. A risk-driven clinical screening process can provide valuable insights into individual members, allowing for early detection of PTSD risk factors and quicker routing to evidence-based care. By harnessing data to swiftly connect members to appropriate care, health plans can prevent those with high-risk conditions like PTSD from slipping through the cracks. 

Lucet’s Navigate & Connect offers comprehensive screening and analytics tools that detect clinical acuity, including PTSD risk factors. This universal screening can identify and address potential issues before they escalate, ensuring timely and effective intervention for PTSD.  Equally important is matching members with the right provider to optimize therapeutic outcomes. Navigate & Connect couples universal screening with smart care matching based on acuity, type of behavioral health provider and various other factors, ensuring that members are referred to the most appropriate providers. Today, 13% of the providers in Lucet’s network are specially trained to work with veterans/military/first responders – the demographic groups with the highest rates of PTSD.  

John Langlow, MD, MBA is a medical director at Lucet, The Behavioral Health Optimization Company.

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