Good News For Soldiers: New Therapy May Help Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Harold Mandel's picture
PTSD
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There has been a dramatic breakthrough for military people suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, called Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART). In view of the intensified state of hostilities worldwide in an era of a rise in the presence of well armed terrorist groups and heated regional conflicts, this is very significant to help cut down on the rate of losing surviving soldiers, and civilians exposed to these conflicts, to a lifetime of chronic mental illness from post- traumatic stress disorder. Clearly, any soldier, or civilian, could experience such psychological trauma after surviving bloody military conflicts.

The therapies which are endorsed by the U.S. Department of Defense and Veterans Administration for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are lengthy, costly, and have variable success, according to the journal Military Medicine. Researchers have done an evaluation of Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) for the treatment of combat associated psychological trauma. The researchers concluded that ART appears to be a safe and effective treatment for the symptoms of combat associated PTSD, including refractory PTSD. This therapy can be delivered in significantly less time than therapies which are presently endorsed by the U.S. Department of Defense and Veterans Administration.

Research has suggested ART may be a good alternative for veterans who do not respond well to conventional therapies which are endorsed by the U.S. Department of Defense and Veterans Administration, reports the University of South Florida Health. Researchers at the University of South Florida College of Nursing have reported in a new study that ART is a brief, safe, and effective treatment for combat associated symptoms of PTSD among veterans and U.S. service members. This treatment consists of the use of evidence-based psychotherapies and eye movements combined. ART is shorter and therefore more likely to be completed than conventional therapies for PTSD that are formally endorsed by the U.S. Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration.

Dr. Kevin Kip, who led this research, has said, “Based on this trial and an earlier study completed at the USF College of Nursing, we believe that accelerated resolution therapy may provide the quickest way to effectively and safely treat post-traumatic stress disorder.” It is the desire of Dr. Kip to gather enough evidence and interest to justify classifying ART as a potential first-line treatment of PTSD for both civilian and military personnel. ART has been viewed as a cornerstone of the Restore Lives initiative at USF Nursing. Other natural treatments can also be used to treat PTSD, reports EmaxHealth reporter Tyler Woods Ph.D.

There are two phases to ART to help alleviate psychological trauma symptoms of PTSD and associated disorders such as depression and anxiety. First, the patient is asked to visualize
in his or her mind a prior traumatic experience which generally causes uncomfortable physiological sensations such as tightness of the chest, increased heart rate and sweating. Talk therapy and a series of rapid left-to-right eye movements are than given by which the patient follows the clinician’s hand back and forth. The uncomfortable physiological sensations are minimized in this manner.

In the second phase of ART treatment the patient is asked to replace the distressing images they have seen with positive images in a manner by which the original distressing images can no longer be accessed. ART therapy is given in two to five one-hour sessions. There is no homework required dealing with written or verbal recall of the traumatic experience. Marijuana may offer another alternative to help treat PTSD, according to EmaxHealth reporter Deborah Mitchell.

Exposure to a life-threatening event or traumatic experience can set off PTSD. This is a prevalent and disabling disorder. Chronic symptoms are associated with PTSD such as:

1: Flashbacks

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2: Nightmares

3: Sleep disturbances

4: Mood swings

5: Loss of interest in life

The PTSD Foundation of America says one in three troops who return from combat suffer from PTSD symptoms. It is conjectured that less than 40 percent seek help. Another very distressing fact is that at least five active U.S. duty military members attempt to commit suicide every day. Lt. Col. (Ret.) Lawrence A. Braue, EdD, director of the USF Office of Veterans Services, says, “Accelerated resolution therapy is giving hope to many veterans who felt like they had no hope.”
He hopes to see ART widely available across the United States someday.

What has been happening to a lot of U.S. military veterans, and civilians who actively try to help them, is an absolute disgrace and is a reflection of a nation which lacks a set of proper priorities in dealing with mental health care. These men and women put their lives on the line in military conflicts daily, often to come home to a nation which throws them away in the trash bin of a psychiatric system which presently focuses on maintaining people in a sick state, instead of promoting wellness and working to get them back into the mainstream of civilian life and to school and work as soon as possible.

Just like every single American citizen under the law is well educated enough to go to work and earn a nice living, so is every single U.S. military veteran. And, yet in every city across the nation homeless military veterans can be seen fighting to survive on the streets with scores of other Americans who have been thrown out in the streets, instead of being nurtured into healthy and productive lives where they can earn a nice living.

Many of the unemployed and homeless people across the United States are being told they were or are mentally ill and so that's the way it goes. Whether or not these people did or did not suffer from mental illness, the nation in is entirety is a disgrace for not working with them to develop their talents and to help them earn a nice living and lead independent lives. ART therapy and the goals behind this therapy are a step in the right direction aimed at revolutionary changes in a mental health care system which has been a dramatic failure for decades.

Image by North Dakota National Guard, used under CC license from Flickr.

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Comments

This therapy is compared to controls that are not therapy. The research proves some therapy is better than no therapy. Meaningful research would be to compare this method with other established methods.
That's a good suggestion!
Where are the clinical trials and research to support this assertion. There s no magic cure for PTSD. Meds are suspect as well. So let's not grab at straws here.
I agree this research will have to be followed up carefully with further research. And, yes, meds are suspect too.