(NaturalNews) Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, also known as PTSD, is an anxiety disorder that can develop after a person is exposed to a terrifying event or ordeal. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat. Members of the U.S. military are experiencing PTSD at unprecedented levels. In fact, a study in the June 2010 Archives of General Psychiatry estimated that as many as 17% of U.S. veterans, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, have PTSD. PTSD symptoms can be extremely disruptive to daily life and can include depression, anger, persistent frightening thoughts and memories, sleep problems and a feeling of numbness or detachment. Now, the U.S. military is effectively treating PTSD with alternative therapies.
In an effort to find new ways to effectively fight PTSD, the U.S. Department of Defense is employing counseling programs and is exploring alternative treatments, including acupuncture. Innovative PTSD programs launched at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas in 2007 are believed to be the first comprehensive efforts of their kind in the military - importantly, they combine alternative therapies and traditional treatments for soldiers with PTSD. These programs have set a stellar example and today there are more than 15 programs up-and-running across all branches of the military for soldiers with PTSD. The Department of Defense has said that early results from these programs have been extremely positive.
These positive results build upon recent research that shows the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating PTSD. A study published in June 2007 in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease showed that acupuncture "provided large treatment effects for PTSD" similar to those seen after counseling and therapy. The study also showed that acupuncture was able to reduce PTSD symptoms, while also continuing to reduce those symptoms even three months after treatment ended.
Department of Defense officials have talked about the success and promise of these programs and acupuncture specialists have weighed in on how and why acupuncture may be so effective in treating PTSD. Because Oriental Medicine and acupuncture aim to heal the whole person rather than individual symptoms, it may be an especially valuable tool for treating PTSD, which is an anxiety disorder that affects each person in different, personal ways. For example, acupuncture is calming to the nervous system, which can be extremely shaken and traumatized by the events that caused PTSD. Through its experience to-date, the U.S. military is learning to focus on the soothing treatment of acupuncture to settle the nervous system. Oriental Medicine may become a more often used treatment for soldiers and civilians suffering from PTSD.
Sharon Sherman, M.S.O.M., D.OM., L.OM., is the founder of Empirical Point, a full-service Oriental Medicine and acupuncture practice in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Ms. Sherman has been a licensed practitioner since 2001 and treats a broad range of conditions with a clinical specialty in chronic pain management. Her approach to working with clients is educational and collaborative - she helps patients create awareness about their current habits and how changing their lifestyle, integrating customized Oriental medicine, acupuncture and herbal therapeutics and limiting unhealthy activities can have a lifelong impact on their health. Ms. Sherman resides just outside of Philadelphia and practices at two locations in the city - Center City and Chestnut Hill. The Empirical Point website provides more in-depth information about the benefits of Chinese Medicine and acupuncture, including a blog about healthy living topics. You can also follow her on Twitter at @EmpiricalPoint.