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.