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Alternative PTSD Therapies Catching On

alternatives

By Debbie Gregory.

The broad acceptance of PTSD after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has posed an unexpected challenge: what is the best way to treat it?

Traditional medical approaches usually rely on drugs, which is not terribly popular with veterans. This has given rise to hundreds of alternatives, including: therapeutic fishing, rafting, backpacking trips, horse riding, transcendental meditation, yoga, dogs, art collectives and dolphin swims, just to name a few..

There has been a marked increase in the number of veterans seeking treatment beyond drugs. New studies suggest that these therapies can be as beneficial as drugs in reducing depression and anxiety without side effects or stigma. That’s why spending some time in downward dog may be just what the clinician orders—or should consider—for veterans with PTSD.

Yoga offers a unique and ancient system to manage the mind and emotions. There are several principles that yoga has to offer which help unravel the mysteries of our experiences and their impact.

The Atlanta VA Medical Center’s recreational therapy program has partnered with the Georgia Aquarium in a program called the Veterans Immersion Program. Since its founding, the program has hosted more than 1,300 military personnel who have injuries both seen and unseen. Participants of all abilities are welcome 365 days a year to swim or dive alongside whale sharks and manta rays.

Operation Warrior Wellness (OWW), a division of the David Lynch Foundation, offers the Transcendental Meditation-based Resilient Warrior Program, a simple, easy-to-learn, evidence-based approach to relieving symptoms of PTSD and major depression and developing greater resilience to stress. Since its initial launch in 2010, the OWW initiative has partnered with leading veterans service organizations, Army and Marine bases and VA medical centers across the country.

Artists for Trauma uses artistic expression to provide a creative portal to aid recovery, process complex emotions, regain confidence and build self-acceptance after suffering a traumatic experience.

There are many more alternative therapies available. Treating PTSD is no longer a one-size-fits-all.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Transcendental Meditation as Treatment Option for PTSD and TBI

meddy

By Debbie Gregory.

Practicing transcendental meditation may help active-duty soldiers significantly reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, a new study funded by the David Lynch Foundation’s Operation Warrior Wellness suggests.

By reducing the symptoms, soldiers also can reduce their need for medications, the researchers say.

The study looked at 74 active-duty service members with PTSD or anxiety disorder, often resulting from multiple deployments over multiple years. All 74 participants were being treated at Dwight David Eisenhower Army Medical Center’s Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic at Fort Gordon, Georgia.

Half the service members voluntarily practiced Transcendental Meditation regularly in addition to their other therapy. At one month, 83.7 percent of the meditators had stabilized, reduced or stopped their use of psychotropic drugs to treat their conditions. Only 10.9 percent had increased their medication dosage.

The other half of service members who did not meditate saw only a 59.4 percent stabilization rate, while 40.5 percent were taking more medication. By six months into the study, non-meditators had experienced about a 20 percent increase in their symptoms compared with those using the meditation practice.

Transcendental meditation can take those who practice it from a state of active thinking to a level of inner quietness that reduces levels of stress hormones, says study lead author Vernon Barnes, a physiologist with the Georgia Prevention Institute at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta.

PTSD affects about 13 percent of service members deployed to Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. According to the researchers, these prolonged wars have large numbers of active duty and veteran personnel struggling with the emotional aftershocks.

Eisenhower Army Medical Center is among the first to use Transcendental Meditation in active duty personnel, although the practice has been more widely used with veterans.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.