“When you’re in a combat zone… you have to be attentive all the time. You have to be aware of your surroundings.
“When you’re in a combat zone… you have to be attentive all the time. You have to be aware of your surroundings. You don’t need that when you’re back home and you’re with your family, but I was still feeling like I had to be on alert all the time.” -Chris*
You’ve probably heard of PTSD before, likely in relation to military members and veterans. While PTSD affects people outside of the armed forces as well, according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, between 11-30% of military members experience PTSD at some point in their lifetime. Many of these individuals suffer for prolonged periods, are prone to high levels of stress in every day life, or even attempt suicide due to lack of effective treatment. Fortunately, more research is being done into ways to lessen the effects of PTSD on everyday life and establish more effective long-term treatment options.
A few treatments for PTSD are:
TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) is an FDA approved treatment for treatment-resistant depression and OCD. While TMS is not yet FDA approved as treatment for PTSD on its own, many PTSD patients suffer from depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses in conjunction with their PTSD. Many TMS patients report drastically improved PTSD symptoms during their depression treatment, including veterans Charles and Chris.
TMS involves using magnetic pulses to stimulate the neurons in the brain. Psychiatrist Brian Nyberg describes this process, “The magnetic pulses from the TMS gives your brain cells a little extra energy, allowing chemicals to be carried throughout the brain the way they should be.” Because TMS is typically used for long-lasting results, Serenity recommends using TMS in conjunction with ketamine for best results. Ketamine infusions provide a short-term boost in mood that can help alleviate symptoms until the effect of the TMS kicks in, which can take several weeks.
EMDR is a form of psychotherapy during which the individual is asked to recall traumatic incidents during external stimulation to help process the trauma. During EMDR, they follow a three part process which involves focusing on the past traumatic events, the current circumstances that trigger a stress response, and imagining future events to help develop coping skills.
A technique also commonly used to treat OCD, the concept behind Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE) is that with enough exposure to the trigger or reminders of the traumatic events that have caused your PTSD you can learn the skills to cope with or in some cases, even become desensitized to them. An example of this is that in some military members, ceiling fans can remind them of helicopters, triggering a trauma response of fight or flight. By prolonged exposure to a ceiling fan, they can learn breathing exercises to help reduce this trauma response and allow for better functionality in similar situations.
For many individuals struggling with PTSD, they feel like they are constantly on edge due to an imbalance of neurotransmitters. In some cases medication can help reduce this imbalance. Unfortunately, due to the brain believing there is inherent danger, often the dosage has to be increased regularly for these medications to remain effective. With increased doses comes increased side-effects, and quitting medication for this reason is not uncommon.
If you are struggling with PTSD and your current treatment doesn’t seem to be helping, you can learn more about the treatments we offer on Serenity’s services page.
“(Now) I can relax and I can just enjoy life. My anxiety is going down, my depression is going down, I feel everything coming down and feeling more alive for a change… I feel like for the first time in a really long time, I’m living a life.” -Chris*
“Before, I didn’t really care for the future. Now I care. I want there to be a future in my life.” -Charles*
*Both Chris and Charles are Veterans & Serenity Patients with PTSD