Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is an anxiety disorder that is known to result from psychological trauma such as warlike situation and others. Nightmares, flashbacks, sleep disturbances, anger, impaired functioning and social withdrawal are some of its characteristics.
PTSD is most often seen among soldiers and combat veterans returning from the battle front, mentally scarred and exhausted by their experiences. Medications such as SSRSIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers, beta blockers, opiates, glucocorticoids, anti-aggression agents and alpha-adrenergic drugs are usually prescribed for the disorder.
The Pentagon’s use of alternative therapies for PTSD
However therapists are increasingly realizing the value of using less invasive alternative therapies that are effective without significant side effects.
In a significant departure from the norm, the Pentagon has, in recent years invested millions of dollars in studying the efficacy of alternative treatments for PTSD.
Many soldiers are reluctant to share their experiences in a conventional therapy session, making it imperative to explore alternative options. With as many as three hundred thousand Afghanistan and Iraq veterans suffering major depression or PTSD and significant numbers of suicides among military personnel, officials dealing with health affairs are open to other non-conventional options, such as:
- Acupuncture for stress relief as well as for pain relief is a popular and effective solution that is used quite commonly.
- The possibility of using art and dance as therapy was also explored
- The ancient Chinese discipline of healing, Qigong were studied.
- The possibility of using Reiki and other therapies using hands on touching have also been considered.
- Meditation to increase emotional resilience was also considered as effective PTSD treatment
- Petting and holding animals is also seen to be an effective stress reliever and mood elevator, which is also explored as an option.
The American military has now put into place programs that offer war veterans alternative therapies for PTSD. The Warrior Combat Stress Reset Program at Fort Hood Texas offers a three week amalgam of alternative therapies.
Here veterans can take benefit of therapies ranging from Biofeedback to group therapy. Personnel are educated anew about coping skills. Classes of yoga as well as acupuncture and massage sessions also form part of the program.
Other military facilities also offer spiritual guidance to veterans along with therapies such as acupuncture and meditation. The Military Medicine journal also reported the success of transcendental meditation in reducing as many as 50% of PTSD symptoms.