I’ve been in psychiatric treatment off and on since about 1988 due to several dignoses. As a result, I’ve explored many different treatments.
I see a psychologist biweekly for individual talk therapy. There are many different types of talk therapy, but I’ve found dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) most effective for me. I’ve also participated in group and couples therapy. Therapists who use the Gottman method seem to be most effective for couples therapy. Group therapy is most helpful for people with common diagnoses or experiences.
I take a cocktail of medications prescribed by my psychiatrist. In the process of identifying the most effective combination of drugs for me, I’ve tried at least thirty that were not effective or had unacceptable side effects.
Pharmacogenomic testing helped rule out some medications, which was helpful. (I think GeneSight was the test my doctor used.) It also identified an inherited problem with processing folic acid, which is treated with a prescription vitamin.
I spent about a week in a psychiatric hospital after a serious suicide attempt in 1988. There was another, longer stay in 1991 when I realized that I was headed into a suicidal state again thanks to postpartum depression. More recently, I attended a part-time, outpatient psychiatric program that was very helpful.
I underwent electroconvulsive treatments (ECT or “shock therapy”) for a short time in 2012, but I wasn’t willing to tolerate the associated memory loss. It was effective in kicking me out of an extreme depressive state, though.
In 2016, I had a course of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which was just as effective as the ECT with no side effects.
From 2021 to 2022, I participated in a clinical trial of noninvasive vagus nerve stimulation for depression that worked wonders for me. I bought my own VNS unit at the end of the trial. I use it daily.
I spend a fair amount of time journaling, meditating, practicing gratitude, and otherwise working to improve my state of mind. Every year or so I read The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness and revisit the meditations included on its CD.
I spend an hour in front of a special lamp each morning, too. (My wonderful partner mounted it above my computer monitor, as light therapy is most effective if the light is just above your line of sight.)
Yoga and other methods of gentle movement are also helpful as exercise has been shown to be highly effective in the treatment of depression.
I monitor my depression and anxiety levels every day using an app on my phone. If I seem to be headed into the trough again I try to figure out whether there’s something in my life that’s contributing to the depression. I improve the situation if possible or accept it if that isn’t possible. My partner and therapist are great about helping me through those times, but occasionally I also require a medication adjustment.
I have flashbacks, nightmares, and panic attacks cyclically. My psychiatrist prescribes tranquilizers that I can take when necessary, but I’m wary of their addiction potential, so I use mindfulness practices to calm myself. (The 5-4-3-2-1 technique is my favorite!)
I completely avoid reading or hearing any explicit accounts of sexual assault/abuse, and I’m very careful about what I read, watch, and listen to.
CPTSD has given me a low tolerance level for noise and crowds, so I avoid situations that guarantee exposure to them.
I work remotely, which reduces my exposure to Atlanta’s terrible traffic.
I have come to accept that I may always need treatment. I’m very fortunate to have access to that treatment, and to have been able to access so many different types of treatment over the years. I wish everyone were as fortunate.