One traditional medical approach involves using medication and controlled re-experiencing of trauma, called exposure therapy. However, veterans aren’t finding this as helpful as hoped. Rehashing the event, without giving them coping skills, leaves them feeling helpless, which compounds the problem.
As a result, many alternative therapies are springing up. According to a recent New York Times article, some of them are: “therapeutic fishing, rafting and backpacking trips, horse riding, combat yoga, dogs, art collectives, dolphin swims, sweat lodge vision quests and parrot husbandry centers, among many, many others.”
Are these viable options or are they just ways to avoid the issue?
Some of these therapies challenge veterans to overcome fears and build new experiences that put traumatic memories into perspective, which can be helpful.
However, the overall effectiveness of alternative therapies is hard to assess, beyond anecdotal evidence. Yet I believe that a combination of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Neuro-Emotional Technique, Yoga, meditation or pet therapy can help PTSD sufferers maintain lasting gains. I’ve seen it reduce PTSD symptoms of depression and anxiety without any side effects, plus there’s no stigma attached to it.
I’m by no means alone in believing this. For example, in 2006, Dr. van der Kolk published one of the first studies about the effects of yoga on PTSD. He said that even “after six months the positive effects of yoga are still there.”
If you are a veteran or are experiencing PTSD for another reason, you deserve these life-empowering skills. You don’t have to settle for feeling broken, helpless and hopeless for the rest of your life. With patience and the help of a professional, you can get your life back. Please contact a qualified health care specialist in your area as soon as possible to discuss your options. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment so we can determine and get started on the best therapy for you.
Read more on my website: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.