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It’s Time We Take a Serious Look at Holistic Treatment for Women Suffering From PTSD

It’s Time We Take a Serious Look at Holistic Treatment for Women Suffering From PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among military personnel remains one of the most tragic consequences of America’s obsession with war. Once dismissed as “shell shock,” PTSD is now recognized as a serious mental disorder brought on by a traumatic event, like combat. It’s estimated that PTSD affects 7.7 million people in the U.S., and between 11 and 20 percent of all veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

When we imagine those with PTSD, we often think of men who’ve seen military service, but women are actually twice as likely to develop the disorder in their lifetime. For decades, the medical community has searched for a way to rehabilitate PTSD sufferers so that tragedies like this murder-suicide and the recent Fort Hood shooting can be avoided. Now, new research suggests that practicing yoga can augment effective psychotherapeutic treatments, especially for females struggling with PTSD.

In a study recently published by the Journal of Traumatic Stress, researchers worked with 38 women who showed full or subthreshold PTSD symptoms. The traumatic events of the individuals in the sample ranged from childhood physical abuse to the unexpected death of a loved one. Those who participated in yoga showed a marked decrease in reexperiencing and hyperarousal symptoms.

“Yoga may downregulate the stress response, and positively impact PTSD and comorbid depression and anxiety symptoms,” explained the researchers. Leading them to believe that yoga may be an effective adjunctive treatment for PTSD.

This isn’t the first time science has suggested that unorthodox treatments could speed relief for those suffering from PTSD.

In 2012, Care2 reported on groundbreaking research from the Journal of Psychopharmacology which found that MDMA, often referred to as ‘ecstasy,’ can make traditional psychotherapy more successful for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Once again the focus was on women, 10 percent of whom are affected by the disorder in America.

“These long-term results were primarily in women who suffered from chronic PTSD as a result of sexual assault and abuse,” explained Brad Burge, of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), told Care2 at the time. “Our ongoing study in South Carolina is now looking at whether we can achieve such dramatic improvements in veterans and first responders who also suffer from PTSD as a result of service. Our initial results there are promising, suggesting that MDMA-assisted psychotherapy may also be a powerful future treatment option for the growing number of men and women who suffer from PTSD as a result of war, terrorism, and natural disasters.”

Both studies underscore the need for a more holistic approach to treating the millions that suffer from PTSD around the world. For too long mental health has been a taboo topic, shaming those who suffer from mental disorders into silence. For every military shooting spree or trauma victim suicide that makes the news, there are thousands who endure social stigmas and ineffective treatments. It’s high time we had a frank discussion about PTSD in this country, and work quickly to increase access to all treatments–even simple ones like yoga–proven to provide relief.

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Image via jeanwichinoski

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75 comments

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11:11AM PDT on Jul 9, 2014

We need to find answers and remember one thing MIGHT not work for everyone.

6:48AM PDT on Apr 19, 2014

@ Lilana, though PTSD is most commonly associated with soldiers, but it can affect a whole range of people who have suffered from a trauma including front line responders, victims of natural disasters and victims of rape, assault, robbery and even the those who have lost a loved one. If a person witness their loved one dying and the way they died was particularly horrific or disturbing it could cause PTSD.
Gender comes into the pictures because it has been shown that women are actually more likely to develop PTSD for whatever reason they seem to be more susceptible to this but most the time when we talk about PTSD we think of men because as u said more men are soldiers.

I don't think its fair to compare people's traumatic experiences and say that one isn't "traumatic" enough to cause PTSD, i think that further stigmatizes the disorder and those suffering from it. Like any other mental disorder it's severity will affect people differently and the treatment will also vary from patient to patient. I've always felt that the treatment for mental disorders were to heavily influenced by medication so it makes me happy to know that alternative methods of treatment are seriously being looked into

11:58AM PDT on Apr 15, 2014

ty

11:07AM PDT on Apr 15, 2014

Thanks for sharing.

8:51AM PDT on Apr 15, 2014

Thank you

6:17AM PDT on Apr 15, 2014

No more war, no more bloodshed!

1:14AM PDT on Apr 15, 2014

ty

10:36PM PDT on Apr 14, 2014

I think this article tried to cover too many issues at the same time. PSTD was admittedly a "disorder" much more studied among soldiers who had been in the battlefield due to the vivid flashbacks and the dramatic behaviors observed during them. Due to the life threatening quality of the original experience in the battlefield, the mental reenactment is accompanied by powerful emotional acting out and very acute changes in the nervous system. When people lose a loved one, the bereavement process does not (usually) pose an immediate threat to their physical integrity even though the pain can set off very dramatic responses as well as changes in the CNS functioning. The crucial difference of physical threat is possibly the center of the treatment of choice. I don't see how gender comes into the picture except that most soldiers are male so PTSD from the battlefield is a more probable experience to them. Justification for the extreme violence, in terms of having a cause, is something lacking in USA's wars since WW2 which makes interventions based on rational-emotional therapies very difficult to implement.

10:34PM PDT on Apr 14, 2014

thanks

10:30PM PDT on Apr 14, 2014

thanks

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