Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) sufferers have many traditional and alternative treatment options available to help them cope.
What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Normal “fight or flight” response to danger is different for people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). After a traumatic event, or one of physical harm, PTSD may develop. It can even happen when witnessing such an event. PTSD can occur due to the effects of war, from rape, torture, or mugging, after kidnapping or child abuse, from train, car, or plane accidents, or even as a result of natural disasters. There are many possible causes for why some people may develop PTSD, while others do not. There may be genetic components, involving the stathmin (fear memory) protein, gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP), which controls the fear response, or the 5-HTTLPR gene, which is in charge of serotonin levels in the brain. The amygdala, in the brain, which is responsible for memory, learning, and emotion, and the prefrontal cortex (PFC), which is involved in problem-solving and judgment, may also be related to post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. There could also be other physiological and psychological factors in play. Environmental issues, such as head injury, mental illness, or childhood trauma can also contribute to PTSD. Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder range from flashbacks and nightmares to avoidance symptoms, including emotional numbness, depression, anxiety, and memory issues. The strong emotions and frightening PTSD thoughts can be triggered by situations that remind the patient of the original traumatic events.1 For patients, marital, familial and occupational relationships can suffer, and some may develop substance abuse issues. The VA has helped veterans cope with military-related PTSD for many years, and they have a variety of treatment programs.2 In fact, 1 in 8 returning soldiers from Iraq have been found to have PTSD symptoms. Less than half of those had sought help, according to a report. Post-traumatic stress disorder has also been called “shell shock” or “combat fatigue”, and veterans can have irritability, recurrent memories, and concentration and sleep difficulties.3
PTSD Traditional Treatments
Traditional therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder includes psychotherapy (“talk therapy”). Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), with aspects such as exposure therapy, cognitive restructuring, and stress inoculation training can be helpful. Patients can learn to face and control their fears, make sense of thetraumatic memories, learn how to cope with guilt or shame, and reduce anxiety. They can also develop skills in controlling anger and relaxation, and change their diet, exercise, and sleep habits. Antidepressants, such as Zoloft and Paxil, may be used for people with PTSD. They do, however, carry side effects, such as nausea, headache, sleep interference, sexual problems, and agitation. Sometimes, especially in adolescents and young adults, antidepressants can increase suicidal thoughts.4
There may be some complementary and alternative treatments (CAM) for PTSD, such as natural products, mind-body medicine, manipulative and body-based therapy, whole medical systems (such as Eastern medicine), and additional alternative practices. Acupuncture, meditation, massage, and relaxation techniques could all benefit patients with PTSD.5 Some may also wish to incorporate therapy dogs, art and music therapy, and outdoor retreats. Alternatives can be combined with traditional therapies.6 Some herbal and homeopathic supplements may reduce stress and anxiety.7 For patients with physical pain, such as soldiers, chiropractic care may be beneficial. There is a link between back pain and PTSD, and chiropractors are trained in relieving these issues. Chronic pain can deplete “psychological reserves”.8 Massage could also help reduce stress and increase serotonin. Bodywork, such as massage or Reiki, may reduce physical pain as well.9
Find out more information regarding chiropractic treatment for mood disorders.