After seeking help at an outpatient mental health clinic, Ruby who was raped while walking her dog is diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Three months later, Ruby returns to the clinic, complaining of fear, loss of control, and helpless feelings. Which nursing intervention is most appropriate for Ruby?

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The client with PTSD needs encouragement to examine and understand the meaning of the traumatic event and consequent losses. Otherwise, symptoms may worsen and the client may become depressed or engage in self-destructive behavior such as substance abuse. The client must explore the meaning of the event and won’t heal without this, no matter how much time passes. Behavioral techniques, such as relaxation therapy, may help decrease the client’s anxiety and induce sleep. The physician may prescribe antianxiety agents or antidepressants cautiously to avoid dependence; sleep medication is rarely appropriate. A special diet isn’t indicated unless the client also has an eating disorder or a nutritional problem.

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