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Emerging Therapies for PTSD & Trauma: What You Need to Know

By July 3, 2024July 8th, 2024No Comments

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and trauma can take a toll on your life. It not only affects your ability to work and carry out routine activities, it may also strain your relationships with loved ones. When you have PTSD or trauma, you struggle with low self-esteem, flashbacks, insomnia, and a lot of unpleasant or painful emotions. You might constantly relive the event — or lose your memory of it altogether. Sometimes, it feels like you’ll never get your life back.

The good news is that there are many effective treatments available.  We have evidence-based care, as well as emerging therapies that offer new hope for all, including those who haven’t found relief with traditional approaches.

Understanding PTSD and Trauma

PTSD and trauma are deeply personal experiences that can arise from going through or witnessing distressing events. This includes things like sexual assault, war, serious accidents, physical and emotional abuse, etc.

PTSD brings with it persistent, intrusive memories of these events, causing significant emotional distress. You might experience flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, or find yourself unable to stop thinking about what happened. Trauma, meanwhile, is the emotional response to these overwhelming experiences and can show up as emotional numbness, heightened alertness, or difficulty focusing on everyday tasks.

Both mental health issues can affect anyone. However, public health workers, combat veterans, survivors of abuse, first responders and those who’ve endured life-threatening events, severe accidents, sexual assault and natural disasters are particularly at risk. 

Other risk factors for PTSD include: 

  • Getting hurt
  • Childhood trauma
  • Feeling extreme fear, helplessness or horror
  • Dealing with extra stress after job loss, loss of a loved one or pain and injury
  • Seeing other people hurt or seeing a dead body

Traditional Treatments for PTSD and Trauma

If you’re dealing with PTSD or trauma, several traditional treatments might help. One of these options is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT helps change the negative thoughts and behaviors that come with PTSD and arms you with coping strategies. Another option is exposure therapy, where you gradually confront and process your traumatic memories in a safe and controlled setting. 

Other treatments include group therapy and medications for PTSD and trauma, and in many cases, aftercare will involve joining a support group.  But even with these treatments, some patients, especially those with complex PTSD, may still struggle. This is why more research is still underway to try to uncover the underlying neurological mechanisms of PTSD and develop even more effective treatments aimed at improving the lives of those who struggle with complex trauma.

The Latest Therapies for PTSD and Trauma

Evidence-based treatments that include therapy, medication, or a combination of the two can be highly effective. However, recovery rates remain around 30 to 40%. Besides, treatments like trauma exposure therapy can be extremely painful mentally, while some medications have unpleasant side effects. 

Emerging therapies offer hope. If you’ve tried other treatments that didn’t work, the following therapies could literally be a lifesaver:

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

TMS is a non-invasive treatment that uses magnetic fields to stimulate specific areas of your brain involved in mood regulation. During the procedure, your doctor places a helmet containing a magnetic coil on your head to target the prefrontal cortex – this is the part of the brain that controls emotions, mood and cognitive processes.

TMS therapy helps to lessen the impact of traumatic memories among those with PTSD. While Deep TMS™ isn’t FDA approved in the United States for PTSD/trauma treatment, it has been shown to reduce symptoms related to mental health diagnoses and enhance quality of life. TMS is effective because it targets the brain directly and doesn’t have the side effects that are often associated with medications. Many people find relief after just a few weeks.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR helps you process and integrate traumatic memories. During sessions, you’ll follow the therapist’s movements with your eyes while recalling the traumatic event. So basically, you focus on a back-and-forth movement or sound. At the same time, you bring to mind the upsetting memory until changes happen in the way you experience that memory and process more information from your past.

While effective for PTSD treatment, there is a divide in the scientific community about how it works. Some studies say the movement is a crucial part of treatment, but others show the opposite.

Relief provides this type of therapy in its Rockford, Illinois clinic and in West Allis, Wisconsin.

Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET)

VRET uses virtual reality to recreate your traumatic event in a safe, controlled environment. You’ll work through these virtual experiences with a therapist, which helps desensitize you to the trauma. This therapy is particularly effective for veterans and others who have experienced specific, vivid traumas but are unwilling to participate in treatment.

Some studies found that about 33% of soldiers in the United States were reluctant to talk to a therapist, but were open to using VR and other technology-based therapy. The immersive nature of VR makes it a powerful tool for processing difficult memories. Note: Relief does not provide this therapy.

Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB)

SGB involves an injection of a local anesthetic into a collection of nerves in your neck. A stellate ganglion is a group of nerves that supply the arm and face. The injection is often used to reduce arm, neck, head and chest pains. However, recent studies have found it to be a potential treatment for PTSD. That’s because it can reduce the overactive fight or flight response often seen in PTSD patients. 

When you have PTSD, your body’s fight or flight system (or sympathetic nervous system) remains activated for a long period of time. SGB can turn it off for a few hours and allow your brain to adjust to its restful state. One randomized trial that administered SGB for treatment two weeks apart found a significant decrease in PTSD symptoms. Note: Relief does not provide this treatment.

Ketamine Infusions

Ketamine, traditionally used as an anesthetic, has shown promise in treating PTSD. In low doses administered intravenously, it can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, among other concerns. It’s effective because it works quickly and can provide relief when other treatments have fallen short.

PTSD Treatment at Relief Mental Health

At RMH, we are committed to providing the latest and most advanced treatments for PTSD and trauma. Our team of experienced professionals is here to support you every step of the way. Remember, you don’t have to face PTSD or trauma alone. With the right treatment and support, you can regain control of your life and move forward with hope and confidence. 

Contact us today to learn more about our innovative treatment options and start your journey to recovery.

Relief Mental Health

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