Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is thought to affect between 7 and 8 percent of the population. This statistic is representative of more than just military members, as anyone who has experienced a traumatic event is at risk for developing this mental illness. Traditionally, PTSD has been treated with medication and psychotherapy. Although these effective treatments have been established, many individuals remain symptomatic after treatment. This is where complementary and alternative medicines come into play.

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in alternative treatments for PTSD which involve strategies that fall outside of Western medicine. The aim is to incorporate these different treatment options to help improve wellness as opposed to mitigating symptoms. Currently, the medications approved to treat PTSD provide minimal to modest benefits that are not generally maintained over time. Future development of pharmacological treatments has also been at a standstill hence the need to incorporate alternative treatments for PTSD.

The following is a brief overview of some of the well-established therapies for PTSD:

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a modality of Chinese medicine that encompasses a group of therapies in which needles are inserted into the subcutaneous tissue to restore balance with the body. The use of acupuncture for PTSD has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress levels in individuals and research has shown this to be a very effective treatment option.

Meditation

Regular practice of Transcendental Meditation has been found to reduce or eliminate the use of medications and helps to better control the often debilitating symptoms of PTSD. Transcendental Meditation is a specific type of focused meditation that takes practitioners from a state of noisy thinking to a state of inner quietness. By practicing this form of meditation, an individual can reduce their stress hormones by activating their parasympathetic nervous system while calming their sympathetic nervous system.

Mindfulness

Using mindfulness exercises can be an effective way to reduce stress and anxiety. Mindfulness has been around for a long time, but mental health professionals are just beginning to recognize its benefits. Mindfulness is about being in touch with and aware of the present moment. People with PTSD may feel as though they have a hard time distancing themselves from unpleasant thoughts and memories. As a result, they may not be able to focus their attention on what matters most in their life. Mindfulness helps people get back in touch with the present moment and reduce the feeling that they are controlled by negative thoughts.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

TMS is a non-invasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells. A coil is placed on the patients’ head which sends short magnetic pulses to the brain. The pulses target certain nerve cells responsible for mood regulation and depression. TMS has been found to significantly reduce the intensity of PTSD symptoms and make them more manageable.

If you are suffering from PTSD, Alleviant Health Centers offers several of these alternative treatments in addition to psychiatry and psychology services. Please reach out today to request a free consultation and let us help you bring relief to your symptoms.

About the Author

Kim Sandberg is the owner and founder of Alleviant Health Centers of San Diego and a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. She has two advanced degrees: a Masters of Science in Nursing as a Nurse Anesthetist and a Doctor of Nursing Practice. She has worked in a variety of settings, though the biggest impact on Kim and her work came from her 28 years of service in the Navy Reserve. By opening Alleviant Health Centers, Kim hopes to provide much-needed care for patients who struggle with mental health and chronic pain—especially to the population of veterans and servicemen who desperately need help. Moreover, she is excited to contribute to the holistic health movement by bringing integrative holistic psychiatry and other innovative treatments to the community of San Diego.

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