A traumatizing event, such as a human-caused disaster or the experience of combat in a war, could cause an individual to develop what is defined as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). According to the National Institute for Mental Health, an individual with PTSD may experience debilitating flashbacks or nightmares, and feel as if they are in constant danger. Other symptoms of PTSD include depression, anxiety, insomnia, irritability and more. Traditional treatment of PTSD includes anti-anxiety medication and forms of group therapy, but alternative methods, such as acupuncture and massage and yoga therapy, have been studied as potential treatment options for PTSD patients.
Acupuncture vs. group cognitive-behavioral therapy
In a clinical trial conducted by a group of researchers, 77 participants with PTSD were assigned intervention in the form of acupuncture or group cognitive-behavioral therapy. Another group was put on a waitlist for treatment as part of the control group. After the 12 week period, the researchers found that both acupuncture and group cognitive-behavioral therapies were similarly superior to no intervention, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. More research is needed, but the results of the pilot study suggest acupuncture may have a future as treatment for PTSD.
Massage and yoga therapy for soldiers
General massage therapy, acupuncture and yoga therapy are becoming more popular as a form of treatment for individuals with PTSD, according to an article in Massage Today. In 2008, a clinical psychologist began using specialized therapies on soldiers diagnosed with PTSD at the Fort Bliss Restoration and Resilience Center. Many Fort Bliss patients recovered enough to return to service. Forms of yoga, massage therapy and other nontraditional bodywork methods like Qigong, a Chinese system that uses physical postures, breathing techniques and intense focus, were incorporated into traditional treatment with much success. The Center was able to scale back the amount of medication given to its patients due to the success of the therapies. The therapies allowed soldiers to fight their symptoms and socialize with other patients.
Daily routine can be difficult for those with PTSD. Fortunately, researchers have studied alternative methods, such as acupuncture and massage and yoga therapy, as treatment options. Both have displayed promising results, and should be studied more in the future as methods to treat PTSD and other disorders. Complementary and alternative methods like the ones discussed have lower chances of medical malpractice and don’t utilize prescribed medication as often as traditional healthcare.
— By Ashely Burns, a guest writer, journalism graduate, from Orlando, FL