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PTSD Treatment Alternatives

The choice of treatment for PTSD in the VA system is medication for symptoms and group therapy. Therapists throughout the country have utilized psychotherapy, cognitive/behavioral therapy, EMDR, imagery (guided and/or scripted), meditation, hypnosis, and dream healing, just to mention a few techniques.

Belleruth Naparstek, author of “Invisible Heroes, Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal”, 2006 has addressed the complexity of the chemical and physical effects on the traumatized brain. During the experiencing of a traumatic event the brain’s pain killing neurotransmitters of the sympathetic system are infused with norepinephrine and endorphins. When threat has passed the parasympathetic system takes over through the release of acetylcholine to calm and balance the body.

A self-perpetuating and self-sustaining system continually releases norepinephrine and cortisol, then rebounds in a cycle of imprinting images and physical body reactions in a “kindling” process.

During trauma events it is our right brain function that reacts and records the sights, sounds, physical body and emotional feelings and reactions. Psychotherapy and cognitive/behavioral therapy may not be able to effect the parts of the brain that are most traumatized.

Therapies that utilize the right brain functions are most likely to have an enduring effect in breaking the cycle of PTSD traumas. Soldiers and other survivors of trauma often say they don’t have words to describe their experiences. That’s because the verbal part of the brain wasn’t engaged at the time of the event.

Ed Tick, Ph.D., author of “War and the Soul”, 2005 and “Dream Healing”, 2001 presents extensive evidence to support the notion that PTSD is not an anxiety disorder, but primarily an “identity disorder”. The trauma of war that our soldiers experience is a wounding of the “soul”, interpersonally who we are as a being.

According to Dr. Tick there are four stages of quest healing:
1) Recognize the need for healing, acknowledge and name whatever is diseased in your life, and accept that this condition is a cause of the disequilibrium in your soul.

2) Gathering fellow pilgrims helps you avoid feelings of isolation or despair as you engage in an active quest for healing.

3) Preparation, a period during which you engage in activities that help your mind and body purify, cleanse, and purge the burdens and stressors that overwhelm your injured soul.
The dream itself may come in one large message or in multiple segments, both with symbols and/or very personal images and messages.

- “The Practice of Dream Healing”, pg 234-236."

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Signs and Symptoms

PTSD Process for Vietnam Veterans

Controversy over PTSD Rates

PTSD Treatment Alternatives