Cognitive Processing Therapy and Other Ways to Support Brain Health After PTSD

Cognitive Processing Therapy and Other Ways to Support Brain Health After PTSD

July 24, 2020

Written by Lori Jo Vest

Fact checked by The Brain Blog Team

Cognitive Processing Therapy and Other Ways to Support Brain Health After PTSD

According to the American Psychological Association, “cognitive processing therapy (CPT) is a specific type of cognitive behavioral therapy that has been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).” People develop PTSD after “experiencing a variety of traumatic events including child abuse, combat, rape and natural disasters.” PTSD currently affects 3.6% of the adults in the United States, approximately nine million people. Military veterans are particularly vulnerable after experiencing combat. 

What Are the Symptoms of PTSD? 

IThe American Psychiatry Association says that people who are suffering from PTSD “have intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience that last long after the traumatic event has ended. They may relive the event through flashbacks or nightmares; they may feel sadness, fear or anger; and they may feel detached or estranged from other people. People with PTSD may avoid situations or people that remind them of the traumatic event, and they may have strong negative reactions to something as ordinary as a loud noise or an accidental touch.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, people with PTSD may experience:

  • Behavioral issues like agitation, irritability, hostility, hypervigilance, self-destructive behavior and social isolation 
  • Psychological concerns like flashback, fear, severe anxiety and mistrust 
  • Mood swings including loss of interest or pleasure in activities, guilt and loneliness 
  • Insomnia or nightmares 
  • Emotional detachment or unwanted thoughts 

Can PTSD Damage Your Brain? 

Research has shown that PTSD can contribute to oxidative stress and elevate the levels of proinflammatory cells in the brain, causing damage to brain tissue. Oxidative stress happens in the brain when molecules known as “free radicals” damage the cells and contribute to premature cell aging. The National Institutes of Health reports, “The brain, with its high oxygen consumption and lipid-rich content, is highly susceptible to oxidative stress.”

This damage to the cells in your brain can wreak havoc on your cognitive ability and contribute to your risks for dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. So how do you fight against the brain health risk factors that come with PTSD?

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) for PTSD 

CPT is strongly recommended for the treatment of PTSD. In one research study, rates of participants who no longer met PTSD diagnosis criteria after completing CPT ranged from 30% to 97%, with 51% more participants treated with CPT achieving loss of PTSD diagnosis, compared to the control groups.

Cognitive Processing Therapy is delivered over twelve sessions, teaching patients how to challenge and modify any unhelpful trauma-related beliefs. The patient creates a different understanding and new beliefs about the traumatic event, reducing the ongoing negative effects on the patient’s current life.

If you or a loved one is suffering from PTSD, ask your healthcare provider if Cognitive Processing Therapy is an appropriate option to help you reduce the trauma-related stress and other symptoms. Many experts, including the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, recommend this evidence-based style of cognitive therapy as a frontline method for PTSD recovery.

Brain Health Support for PTSD  

After a PTSD diagnosis, besides seeking help from a medical professional, it’s important to support your brain health as you work through your recovery.

Consider lifestyle choices that protect your brain, like eating a healthy diet, getting enough cardiovascular exercise, and taking a brian health supplement.

A healthy diet is your first line of defense against brain inflammation and oxidative stress. Antioxidants are an antidote to inflammation and oxidative stress and they appear naturally in fruits and vegetables like cherries, dark leafy greens, broccoli, carrots and tomatoes, and in fish, nuts, turmeric, green tea, onion, garlic and cinnamon.

Moderate cardiovascular exercise has been proven to reduce oxidative stress. In one study, “exercise training induced a significant decrease in oxidative damage.”

When it comes to brain health supplements, natural nutritional supplements are preferred, since they come without the harmful side effects of synthetic and pharmaceutical brain supplements. Memory Health® is an all natural, patented brain supplement consisting of plant-based nutrients called carotenoids, along with Omega-3 fish oil (DHA and EPA), and natural Vitamin E.  The Memory Health® Formula was developed by leading scientists and has been extensively tested in clinical trials on both diseased and healthy brains. Memory Health® is clinically proven to improve cognitive performance in individuals with Mild Cognitive Impairment when supplemented daily. The Memory Health® formula is also patented for the prevention and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's disease and dementia. 

Learn more about the science behind Memory Health®, an all-natural, nutritional supplement clinically proven to support long-term brain health by replenishing the brain's natural ingredients.

Sign Up to the Brain Blog