This blog is being presented in three parts. The first will introduce you to Alex who suffers from symptoms of PTSD. The second reviews some of the research into the mechanisms of the brain that result in formation of PTSD and introduces a unique state-of-the-art treatment based on that research. The third part demonstrates how and why this treatment works. Throughout these postings I have highlighted certain words with links to additional information if you want to read more.
Part 1:The Symptoms of PTSD
Alex retired from the Army following two deployments to Iraq. Although he had returned home to a loving wife and two young daughters, Alex is having trouble adjusting to civilian life. He feels guilty that he can’t seem to find a job. There have been too many arguments with his wife about money, and he is increasingly irritable about little things. He has trouble sleeping; sometimes even the thought of going to bed makes him nervous, because of the nightmares that leave him sweaty and shaking. He can’t get the memory of the sight of three of his buddies after their PC hit a land mine out of his head. He feels his life is spinning out of control and wonders if he is going crazy.
Like many other returning veterans, Alex is suffering from symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In order to be diagnosed with PTSD, an individual must have experienced a traumatic event or events that resulted in or threatened death, serious injury or bodily harm, and the person’s response to the event was intense feelings of horror, fear or helplessness. This experience resulted in specific clusters of symptoms that cause significant distress or discomfort and often impact the individual in many areas of life long after the original trauma.
Alex sits in a comfortable chair in the office of a therapist who specializes in PTSD treatment. He is a little nervous, because he knows the therapist uses something called Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP). Although what he had read about NLP on Wikipedia has left him skeptical, his wife insists that he try, because their good friend had gone through the process and in just a few sessions had made incredible progress.
The therapist spends a few minutes talking with Alex. Alex finds the guy is OK and decides he will give this a go. The therapist asks him several questions about his symptoms and makes notes in a file. “Yes,” he says, “you meet the criteria for a PTSD diagnosis.” Then he tells Alex that the NLP process involves visualizations and asks Alex to picture a few things in his mind. At one point he tells Alex to imagine himself doing something he enjoys. While he doesn’t know the point of the exercise, he goes along with it just the same and remembers a fun day at the beach with his family when he was a young teen.
Tomorrow’s blog will focus on PTSD brain research and will introduce Alex to a unique and highly effective treatment based on that research.