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Monday, March 5, 2012

PTSD and Veterans: Part Two

In the previous post, we spoke less about the illness and the patients and more about the services delivery problems. This post we will discuss 3 treatment options for veterans with PTSD. 

Virtual Reality Therapy
Sounds cool right? Believe it or not it is not just about watching a video game. In a column, written by Lisa Collier Cool called,  Virtual Reality Therapy for Veterans with PTSD for HealthyImagination.com. She reported that according to Barbara Rothbaum, Ph.D., ANPP, the study’s principal investigator at Emory University said that, "although the traumatic memories will never go away, we believe that virtual reality exposure therapy and DCS( drug d-cycloserine (DCS) to treat PTSD) will make it easier for patients to cope with these memories. This new way of treating PTSD with veterans is a derivative of cognitive behavioral therapy that are the main techniques in treating anxiety disorders(as we know from Psychology 101 post that PTSD is a type of anxiety disorder). Oddly enough, I recently I read an article in GQ magazine that Virtual Reality was not only helpful for victims who have PTSD, but also for those veterans who have had severe burns from war. Burn Victim treated with Virtual Reality .Click for complete story(Hattip AB). Pretty darn cool if you ask me!

Imagery Rescripting and Exposure Therapy 
In the 2011 Journal of Anxiety Disorders there was an article written called, Imagery Rescripting and Exposure group treatment of PTSD**, which conducted research in trying to help veteran who have a Dx PTSD and reduce symptoms and increase sleep patterns. The idea behind Imagery Rescripting when coming to patient with PTSD is that they would rescript the nightmares they were having and/or write out the nightmares they were experiencing in order to attain habituation to the nightmares they were having. In other words, so they could become desensitize to the nightmares and help themselves understand that they are not in any immediate danger and that will allow themselves to relax. This would also help them increase the number of hours they slept, since going to sleep was worse than being always tired and sleep deprived. The study did show that this help increase sleep as well as decrease nightmares. Also really cool!

Group Therapy
Conversely to the two approaches above,  group therapy is not new and in some areas may be the most effective way to treat certain types of disorders. We know from substance abuse treatment from AA to NA those are solely based on group therapy techniques. A good reason for group therapy to work with veterans who have PTSD is the idea of shared experiences. Group therapy is predicated on this idea of shared experiences, but few disorders are exactly the same in manifestation. When it comes to PTSD with veterans, that idea of shared experiences is extremely effective. Not only being in the same war, but training and preparation for war pre-PTSD could help give each other a boost while in group therapy of how to cope with it and move on with the disorder.

PTSD is just as a debilitating disorder as any. Like other illnesses new practices and treatments are being researched and discovered daily. Hopefully with new advances like Virtual Reality and Imagery Rescripting, it will provide effective treatment to those veterans who are in need.

Have a great Monday!
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**Authors: Imagery Rescripting and Exposure group treatment of PTSD. Mary E. Long, Marry E. Hammons, Joanne L. Davis, B. Christopher Frueh, Myrna M Khan, Jon D. Elhai, Ellen J. Teng.

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