Posted by: andreazastrow | July 31, 2015

PTSD: Thinking Outside of the Box

As previously discussed on this page, 22 veterans are committing suicide every day. A large culprit for returning service members is post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Hopefully it has been made clear by now that our organization, Pets For Vets, seeks to place homeless animals with veterans suffering from PTSD. If you or someone you know might benefit from our services, please reach out to us. However, as with nearly any subject, there is often more than one solution. An influx of research focused on understanding and treating PTSD is revealing some truly fascinating options.Traditional options include one-on-one therapy sessions, support groups, and doctor prescribed medications. Such options are exceedingly helpful for managing PTSD; but as research on this topic continues to grow, we are seeing some alternative therapies with great promise. Discuss any treatment and/or therapy options with a doctor before beginning a specific regimen.

In a recently published Huffington Post article, the author refers to a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry which explores the idea of attention control therapy, “in which a computer task helps the user shift their focus away from a scary image to an assignment”. This research, being performed at Tel Aviv University, aims to neutralize “scary” images by repeatedly performing tasks after being shown these images. Computer based therapy, such as this one, has the potential to be exceptionally far reaching providing that the research proves successful. (The article can be found here.)

Many yoga enthusiasts swear by yoga’s ability to help manage a variety of ailments from back pain to headaches to anxiety. Using the breath as a tool to calm the body and mind, a number of yoga organizations have been reaching out to veterans and their families as they collectively deal with the hardships of PTSD. Marines Sgt. Hugo Patrocinio told a reporter with the Miami Herald, “There is no magic pill that can erase your past or what you have seen but the practice helps me to cope. Now I am not afraid to go to sleep”. As exercise is often touted as a great management technique for PTSD, a form of exercise that also promotes peace and calm may be highly effective. (Check out the veteran focused yoga groups here.)

A form of home therapy recommended for a variety of anxiety issues is something referred to as “grounding techniques”. The idea with grounding is leading the mind away from triggers. By focusing on tactile elements, the present moment, or something as simple as reciting the alphabet, the goal is bring the mind back to a neutral state hoping to minimize or eliminate an anxiety attack. One of the most appealing aspects of grounding techniques is that they can be done anywhere, with no special equipment, and at no cost. (Find additional techniques here.)

Last but certainly not least is art therapy. The art therapy program at Walter Reed Medical Center has shown to be a creative outlet where those suffering from PTSD can express their feelings in a healthy way. Similar to grounding techniques, art therapy is often a way for many anxiety sufferers to decompress. Take a look at some of the artwork done by the veterans, it is quite interesting to see a common thread between them all. The photos can be found here.

If you or someone you know are suffering from PTSD, please know that you are not alone and that you have options. Should you feel frightened or feel as though you may be in harm’s way, please seek immediate medical attention or call Veteran’s Crisis Line (1800-273-8255 and Press 1).

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