A behavioral health integration (BHI) collaborative have urgently called for accelerating BHI in primary care. We asked a few of evolvedMD's...
Tending Silent Wounds: The Impact of Behavioral Health Integration on PTSD Patients
By evolvedMD's Clinical Management Team
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is frustratingly misunderstood.
Oftentimes, PTSD is associated with war-weary veterans, scarred by their own unique experiences. However, PTSD impacts people who’ve experienced a traumatic event of any stripe. Victims of car crashes, sexual abuse, and other distressing situations can fall into the clutches of PTSD.
Unfortunately, many people with PTSD suffer in silence, often ignoring symptoms and hoping they’ll disappear. It’s hard to blame them when the road to recovery is fraught with obstacles. Stigma and month-long wait times to see a therapist deter them from getting the help they need. What’s worse, medication becomes a first-line solution that only masks the problem when it should be used in combination with therapy to address trauma at its root.
If you, or someone you know, are grappling with PTSD, know that help is closer and easier to get than you think. More and more primary care practices are integrating behavioral health services to address physical and mental health symptoms, including PTSD.
Breaking Down PTSD
Intrusive memories of traumatic events, avoidance behaviors, and the shift toward negative thoughts and mood are tell-tale signs of PTSD. However, PTSD also manifests physically as elevated blood pressure, fatigue, muscle tension, and pain. If ignored, those suffering from chronic PTSD are increasingly prone to diabetes, heart disease, and substance use disorders.
While primary care is uniquely positioned to see and catch these symptoms, unfortunately, traditional primary care practices are often ill-equipped to effectively treat patients without dedicated resources skilled in diagnosing, assessing, and treating PTSD.
But what if you could address the physical and mental health symptoms of PTSD in the same place?
Why You Should Seek Treatment in a Collaborative Care Setting
Primary care practices that integrate behavioral health erases those agonizing waits and fragmented treatment. Your trusted PCP can immediately refer you to an onsite, in-person therapist, located just down the hall to begin treatment.
Why is this method effective?
- It's comprehensive – by treating the physical and mental health symptoms of PTSD concurrently, the full scope of your condition is recognized and treated.
- It's proactive – waiting until PTSD symptoms become too severe is a recipe for disaster, leading to more expensive treatment options. Tackling symptoms before they snowball into severe issues makes a world of difference that siloed primary care and mental health clinics can’t achieve.
- It’s effective – collaborative care leads to improved outcomes and satisfaction. overall safety and quality of care, leading to decreased symptomatology and fewer return visits.
At evolvedMD, we’ve treated many patients with PTSD who couldn’t access care by traditional means.
In one case, a PCP referred a patient who was struggling with the aftermath of a car accident they experienced months prior to one of our onsite therapists. They were terrified of being in a car as either a passenger or the driver. Our therapist introduced the patient to grounding exercises and how to alleviate both physical and mental health symptoms of anxiety. After several months of intentional work, the patient bought a new car and feels comfortable driving again.
In another case, a patient with recent trauma and chronic pain had felt hopeless, that they could not be helped. Through therapy, the patient learned self-empowerment techniques, identifying codependency behaviors and since has seen significant improvement. Building a firm foundation, they expressed feeling empowered and no longer being afraid.
Empowering You to Seek Help Today
If you’re suffering in silence, just know you’re not alone. But don’t wait for the "right moment" to seek help as it can lead to unnecessary delays and worse outcomes. Remember, seeking help is a testament to your strength—not a sign of weakness.
Reach out to your PCP today to see if they offer onsite behavioral health services. If they don't, express your desire to have these services available. After all, treating PTSD effectively requires addressing your whole self, both physical and mental. In the journey towards recovery, collaborative care settings can offer the comprehensive, timely help you need.
Take the first step towards healing
and contact your PCP today for help.