Nurses are part of the teams responsible for treating PTSD in a variety of different settings. If you would like to work in the nursing field and you have a passion for assisting patients who have been diagnosed with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, you need to learn the role nurses play and how they help with treatment plans. The roles and the duties of nurses can vary from office to office and clinic to clinic, but here is some basic information that helps you familiarize yourself with the nurse’s role when addressing this major national health issue.
Recognizing the Signs in Civilian Settings
PTSD is a common health issue that civilians and military personnel suffer from. When people experience, witness or hear about a life-threatening event, it is possible for them to react with fear and hopelessness. This is a critical sign that the person is suffering from the disorder and need treatment to prevent losing their quality of life. Fortunately, PTSD is a disorder that can be treated, if detected. Because nurse practitioners work so closely with military personnel and also with civilians, they can be part of the early detection. If a person is exhibiting symptoms common to PTSD, a nurse may be the first to see them and can initiate a more comprehensive screening and evaluation.
Screening Patients with Healthcare Providers
It has become standard practice to screen patients who visit a setting and say things that might suggest PTSD. While the actual screening process may be arranged by the physician, nurses can be a part of it. They may ask about experiences, listen to stories, screen for suicide ideation, and take a history of trauma sustained. This is an important part of the process and can be extremely emotional for the patient. This is why you need to be able to build a rapport with the patient and talk in a private setting where they feel comfortable.
Treatment and Managing PTSD
After an official diagnosis, it is important that the appropriate treatment is chosen. Nurses may not actually be the one to refer a patient to a specialist or prescribe medication, but they can help ease the mind of the patient and follow up during assessment appointments. If the patient has been prescribed medication, a nurse may inquire about side effects.
Some nurses may help teach patients about trauma and its effects on the brain. They can also help teach patients relaxation and anger management techniques. Patients who eat healthy food, sleep regularly and exercise tend to have more success in treatment. By supporting a patient and giving them the information that they need to focus on a cure, nurses can make a huge difference.
There are treatment options for patients with PTSD. Many people do not want to admit they have a problem because of the stigma that is placed on mental health issues. Treatment is imperative and the best nurses are those who can help patients understand that they are not alone. If you want to be a part of treating PTSD, look for positions with the Veteran’s Administration of public health departments where this is a common issue.