Recent Developments In The Psychological Treatment Of PTSD

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychological condition and illness that results from experiencing first hand, or vicariously, a traumatic event. War survivors, veterans, and victims of crime are those who are usually inflicted with PTSD. At present, there are two established and effective psychological therapies patients suffering from the illness can undergo: trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, and eye movement desensitization. Scientists, psychologists, and doctors are further exploring new ways to treat the disorder as it is debilitating to a patient’s way of life.

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How PTSD Affects A Patient’s Daily Life

 

Rob Cole, LMHC and clinical director at Banyan Treatment Center, describes PTSD as “a response to trauma that can make individuals feel scared, hopeless, or horrified for at least one month following the trauma.” According to Cole, “Having disturbances in your sleeping pattern due to reoccurring dreams is a sign that you may have minor PTSD and not anxiety.”

PTSD has repercussions for both emotional and mental trauma. The traumatic event a patient suffering from the disorder has lasting effects on his/her psyche. The individual suffers from a constant sense of fear, sadness, and might even develop anxiety alongside the symptoms of PTSD.

Due to the trauma he/she has experienced, it might be difficult for the patient to be interested in hobbies again. Places, names, and activities that have some correlation to the traumatic event may be avoided altogether. A usually active individual might revert to himself/herself and become a recluse.

Symptoms of PTSD such as hyperarousal, constant mood changes and negative thoughts, avoidance and numbing, and reliving the traumatic events all affect how a patient goes about his/her daily life. These symptoms are debilitating and influence the people around them. The quality of work lessens, resulting in poor performance. Instead of making the patient feel better, negative incidents such as this one might worsen the condition.

Recent Developments In The Treatment Of PTSD
Everyone’s capacity to tolerate trauma varies on the person’s sensitivity and how the nervous system is wired. According to Dr. Dalia Spektor, clinical psychologist, “It’s not just the duration or the timing of the response to the trauma that’s problematic; it’s also how much it interferes with your life. It’s important to understand that most people will experience traumatic events in their lives, but not everyone will develop PTSD.”

Conventional treatment for PTSD is therapy. It includes the common process of the psychiatrist talking to the patient about his/her problems, underlying issues, and finding healthy ways for him/her to cope.

Meditation And Yoga As Alternative Treatment To Anxiety In PTSD
Recent developments in the field of Psychology revealed meditation and yoga could help with traumatic brain injury and dealing with PTSD. Studies showed these two methods provide an outlet for healing and recovery.

Yoga is known for its various health benefits and overall effect on wellness. Yoga also promotes meditation. Meditation has a positive effect on mental health as it focuses on mindfulness. The exercise allows the mind to focus, clearing it of unwanted thoughts at a specific amount of time. Researchers are now hinting at the possible use of meditation for healing traumatic brain injuries.

Charmain J. Simmons, LPC, supports these facts by saying, “Meditation has the ability to reduce stress hormones by calming the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems. These systems are what activate our main panic responses (“fight,” “flight,” “freeze,” or “friend”) to stressful situations. Because of this, meditation can be a wonderful coping strategy for those suffering from trauma.”

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Yoga helps those with PTSD who suffers from changes in their nervous system functions, has intrusive thoughts, severe emotional pain, and sleeping difficulties. Yoga and meditation invoke a sense of calmness and relaxation, which combats the constant feeling of anxiety associated with PTSD.

The Brain Glutamate mGluR5

On the other hand, there are only two medications for PTSD approved by the FDA. Patients need to go through multiple medical treatments for PTSD due to a lack of medications specifically for the disorder.

A recent study led by NCPTSD and Yale Psychiatrist Irina Esterlis explores a specific alteration in brain glutamate that signals PTSD. In patients with PTSD, a scan by positron emission tomography (PET) reveals increased levels of a subtype of glutamate receptor-5 (mGluR5). This brain receptor is associated with stress-related behaviors, fear, and anxiety in animals. Drugs that could reduce the function of the mGluR5 glutamate might result in the reduction of anxiety-related symptoms in PTSD as well.

Additionally, a novel insight concerning this study is how increases in mGluR5 came about. In the brain composition of war veterans and other PTSD patients at the molecular level, an increase in the code for Shank1 proteins was determined. Shank1 proteins activate the brain glutamate by linking it to the surface of the cell. Patients with PTSD showed significantly higher levels of production of the protein Shank1.

This study is the first one to look into the complex neurobiology of PTSD. Various studies into this field are expected in the future to provide better treatment and understanding of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Artificial Intelligence And Detecting PTSD Through Voice Analysis
Scientists and researchers in the Department of Psychiatry in NYU are developing a specially designed computer program to help detect and diagnose PTSD in patients. They focused on voice patterns as a helpful way to tell if a person has the disorder.

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Currently, these scientists are ‘training’ the artificial intelligence programs to detect voice patterns, such as stuttering, monotony, and lack of tone changes in people with PTSD. Theories of PTSD changing brain circuits related to emotion processing and muscle tone is what the AI associates with. This change in brain circuit is believed to affect tone. Researchers are optimistic in the direction their program development is heading.

PTSD is a disorder that affects more than 70 percent of adults worldwide. Because of this staggering number of patients, scientists and researchers strive to look for better treatment and diagnosis.