For many veterans, coming back from war can be a nightmare, literally. Although military personnel receive extensive pre-combat training, many veterans receive no training on post-combat life and have no idea how taxed emotionally, physically and psychologically they will be when they return from combat. Unfortunately, the U.S. military spends enormous amounts of time and money preparing veterans for war but correspondingly very little of these resources preparing them to return to civilian life. When they return from war, veterans face a number of transitions and challenges.
What is PTSD?
One of the most common health challenges facing veterans is post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. When individuals have experienced severe trauma or a life-threatening event, as is so often the case in combat zones, they may relive these events over and over again playing out in their minds even when removed from the original precipitating event(s). Some of the most common symptoms of PTSD include recurring memories or nightmares of the event, sleeplessness, loss of interest or feeling numb, anger or irritability and loss of libido. Sometimes the symptoms occur immediately after the event or can even be triggered months or years after returning from deployment.
Standard PTSD Treatment
Two types of treatment have been used traditionally to help sufferers of PTSD – counseling and medication. While professional counseling is important and can help PTSD patients understand their thoughts and discuss effective coping strategies, anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medications have not shown to be as quite as effective. That being said, some PTSD sufferers do not want to discuss or relive traumatic events with mental health professionals and have even less desire to be put on medications, possibly for the rest of their life.
Acupuncture for PTSD
For those suffering from PTSD, there are a number of great alternative strategies now shown to be helpful. One treatment for PTSD that has garnered much attention in the press recently is acupuncture. Acupuncture is an over 3000 year old medicine that uses very small needles to stimulate one’s qi (pronounced chee) that runs in channels or meridians in the body, helping to correct underlying energetic imbalances. It has been used for centuries to help with a variety of ailments including pain of all different types, headaches, anxiety, depression, insomnia, fatigue and high blood pressure.
A pilot study by Hollifield and colleagues showed that acupuncture treatments were just as effective as other more conventional treatments for PTSD and lasted for nearly three months following completion of the study. Additionally, the Pentagon has been investigating the beneficial effects of acupuncture for PTSD on soldiers. In all studies, it has been shown that combat veterans experienced improvement in symptoms like anxiety, depression, insomnia as well as pain from both psychosomatic and physical origin following acupuncture. In comparison to conventional treatment, acupuncture does not require veterans to discuss traumatic incidents with their practitioner and the veteran usually notices improvement in PTSD symptoms within just a few treatments.
If you are a veteran or an individual suffering from PTSD, call (602) 432-2900 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!