By Andrew Agoado, AP, DOM (AP3220 Florida)– Palm Beach Gardens, Fl – The use of acupuncture in treating and managing pain is well known and appreciated. However, the concept of using acupuncture for treating PTSD (Post Stress Traumatic Disorder) is not that apparent. Acupuncture has proven so effective that today it is being used to not only treat PTSD symptoms but prevent them from manifesting in the first place.
In recent years, more and more Americans have been affected by PTSD. Reliable data shows that 70% of the adult population in the USA has had a spell of stress disorder at least once in their life. From these, at least 1 in every 5 have gone on to suffer from full blown PTSD. At any one time, there are about 8% of Americans grappling with PTSD, translating to 24.4 million people.
Causes of PTSD
The human psyche suffers a lasting effect after one undergoes a traumatic event. This makes people who have witnessed a tragic event or underwent a life-threatening situation likely to develop PTSD. This is not to mean these are the only categories of people likely to develop PTSD.
The shock induced by the traumatic happening often manifests much later. This is why this type of stress is known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Its symptoms are varied but in most cases the victims experience vivid recollections of the events or as nightmares.
Symptoms of PTSD
For some people, the symptoms of PTSD can be seen right after they have undergone the stressful event. However, others may look alright right after the tragedy but begin exhibiting signs of PTSD months or years after.
There are 4 categories of PTSD symptoms:
- Re-experiencing the tragedy – Relentless and invasive recollections of the stressful happenings. Victims act and feel like they are undergoing the tragedy all over again. While some external stimuli may trigger the PTSD symptoms, they are usually set off by the mind of the person suffering PTSD.
- Avoidance and Numb Nerves: PTSD can be so severe that when a person experiences any conditions associated with the event, they go completely numb. They can also go to enormous lengths, even changing their routine, just to avoid certain places or experiences.
- Reactivating and Arousal – This category of symptoms is exhibited by PTSD sufferers who get easily startled and are usually on edge. They can lead to sleep problems and even anger or stress.
- Mood and Cognition Problems– Pervasive negative thoughts are often the bane of PTSD victims. They also suffer memory lapses and loss of interest. At worst, this kind of behavior can alienate people and lead to even more stress of their own.
How Western Medicine Treats PTSD
Clinical trials for drugs intended to treat PTSD have been ongoing for over 3 decades today. The most impressive performance has come from intravenous administration of hydrocortisone. It has produced encouraging results with many patients.
Other researchers have found that approaches such as eye desensitization and memory reprocessing are effective. These and other psychotherapeutic strategies are continually being implemented in the treatment and management of PTSD.
PTSD Research and Acupuncture
When acupuncture is used along with CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), some PTSD patients have shown accelerated recovery. This has been replicated in other studies across the world and progress is seen in the development of a series of new techniques in treatment of PTSD.
There has been extensive research aimed at establishing if acupuncture has greater effect in treating PTSD when it is combined with a number of more well-established methods. The most well publicized of those research studies was conducted with a set of groups of PTSD patients. The first group was given acupuncture in combination with relaxation exercises. The other group only had the stress relief exercises but no acupuncture. In yet another group, intended to act as control, the exercises used for stress relief were placebo ones. When the patients were evaluated for progress in dealing with PTSD, those in the main group (patients subjected to acupuncture and stress relaxation training) showed clear progress and much more significant improvement than those in the other two groups
Some studies have been carried out to establish if changing the methodology of applying acupuncture has any change in the response shown by patients undergoing therapy for PTSD. The most notable of these studies tried to establish if electroacupuncture ( a gentle micro current applied to the acupuncture needles) worked better when used in isolation or as a combination with other physiotherapeutic methods.
A group of PTSD patients were first treated by undergoing regular electroacupuncture sessions. The researchers noticed that it indeed did help with the management and treatment of the condition. Other groups were treated using electroacupuncture complemented by either auricular (ear) acupuncture or moxibustion. The research analysis showed that the use of combination of the methods led to significant improvement in terms of both response and recovery. There are many other studies showing the effectiveness of acupuncture for PTSD as well as other psychological conditions. If you’re suffering with PTSD, give us a call at our Palm Beach Gardens location and schedule a free consultation today. Most insurance accepted.