Wednesday, May 13, 2015

What are some alternative or non-traditional treatments for PTSD?

PTSD effects such a large population of people. Among veterans, the severity of PTSD varies significantly. While certain treatments, such as Exposure Therapy, might work for some veterans, it might be necessary for some veterans to go outside the box and explore other treatments that may work better for them. 

Group therapy is a form of treatment where veterans can come together and discuss their experiences with each other. This could be helpful for people who benefit sharing memories with people similar to them and who personally understand what they're going through (VA 2014). 

Psychodynamic psychotherapy helps veterans comprehend how their traumatic experience from the past impact how they feel presently. This helps veterans gain control of their feelings and identifies what memories cause PTSD symptoms (VA 2014). 

Family therapy is beneficial for veterans with families. PTSD can effect a veteran's family tremendously. Not only does the veteran get counseled, but so does the family. This is an opportunity for both the veteran and their family to express their fears, concerns, stressors and more. This type of therapy can be essential in building a solid support group for the veteran at home (VA 2014). 

Defense Centers of Excellence provides a brief statement regarding complimentary and alternative medicine:

"Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) approaches are often considered alternative to typical medical practices. Acupuncture is often considered a CAM treatment. There is some evidence that acupuncture may improve PTSD symptoms and acupuncture may be considered a treatment for patients with PTSD. Broadly, other forms of CAM include natural products, mind-body medicine, body manipulation and movement techniques, and energy techniques. Overall, there is insufficient evidence to recommend CAM approaches as a first line of treatment for PTSD. Several CAM approaches, such as mindfulness and yoga, are similar to traditional medical relaxation techniques and may be considered as adjunctive treatment of hyperarousal symptoms, although the relative effectiveness of these treatments is unknown. CAM approaches may be considered for patients who refuse other treatments, but providers should consider the risks of CAM approaches and keep in mind that treatments that have a limited evidence base for effectiveness also have a limited evidence base for potential harm and side effects (DCOE 2015)."

Additionally, an article in the New York Times discusses psychomotor therapy as a successful treatment for PTSD. Bessel van der Kolk, a Dutch psychiatrist, practiced psychomotor therapy on an Iraq War veteran. Pyschomotor therapy was developed by a dancer named Albert Pesso. This therapy involved PTSD victims reenacting their experiences with other people. While the veteran plays out what happened, people serve as characters in his story and recreate his experience. During the traumatic portion of the experience, the characters feed the veteran words of encouragement and forgiveness. Recreating the experience allows the veteran to associate those positive feelings with their memory rather than their negative associations which lead to symptoms of PTSD. The article stated that this kind of therapy is not commonly practiced or supported, however, this psychiatrist believes it can really benefit some people (Interlandi 2014). 

Click here to read the article. 

In contrast, in a WQAD article the topic of medical marijuana is discussed. Recently at an Illinois Medical Cannibis Advisory Board meeting, it was suggested that PTSD be added as a condition that elicits the use of medical marijuana (Simmons 2015). Click here to watch the news coverage.

Many of these treatments are not clinically supported. Perhaps some of the funding being put toward VA psychiatric resources and suicide prevention, should also go towards researching these various treatments. As stated previously, it is likely that Exposure Therapy does not work for every veteran with PTSD but maybe acupuncture would. It is important that we explore all options due to the wide range of severity in PTSD. 

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