PTSD and Acupuncture

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition triggered by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. This traumatic event can damage the mind and body because it shook the foundations of the very soul. Unfortunately, there is not much that western medicine can offer to help those suffering from PTSD except give them anti-depressants. But did you know that anti-depressants have many side-effects, some of which can render a person completely numb and devoid of feelings and in worse case scenarios more depression (prozac, zoloft, risperdal, lamictal, valium)? After all they have been through, do we want such sufferers to go on barely existing?

And yes, PTSD sufferers are offered psychotherapy as a mode of treatment. But there is a flaw to this. Though there are PTSD patients ranging from all demographics, most are known to be soldiers. The military culture does not promote soldiers to get psychotherapy or any other such help. It would be perceived as a weakness. Veterans of older generations (Vietnam War, Korean War) do not help this view of weakness either because they criticize the Iraq War veterans for being “pansies” and “whiners” or because they believe that they had it harder than the younger generation. With this constant backlash from fellow soldiers and veterans, how is offering psychotherapy going to help a soldier in need? They already have difficulty admitting that they have PTSD, let alone admitting that they need help for it.

PTSD is a symptom of soldiers continuing to be soldiers. They may not be at war but they continue to fight a war within. We must also recognize that each soldier’s trauma stems from different events and must not be compared with others.

“It f**kin’ pisses me off when I hear other guys [Army soldiers] comparing their time in Iraq with mine. They act like they know me when they don’t know sh*t.” -Army Iraq War Veteran

In the above quote, the veteran was explaining to me how frustrated he was that those who had been safely ensconced in the back during the war, dared to compare their experiences of Iraq when he had been in the front line watching his brothers die. Though it may not be a fair on his part to compare his time with the others, but this is the typical feeling amongst most soldiers. They feel angry and withdrawn all the time. Their good and bad days come erratically like waves crashing against the rocks. Some withdraw into themselves feeling guilty (sometimes because they killed someone or because they survived and their fellow soldier didn’t). Some overly boast about their conquests. Some are just plain angry. However they deal with it, the root of the cause is the same: war was traumatic.

So how do you treat these proud soldiers who need help? The answer comes in the form of ear acupuncture. Ear acupuncture is very effective at calming the nervous system down thus relieving stress and pain. An added benefit is that there are few needles and because they are in the ear, patients cannot see them, which reduces any chance of adding to their trauma. The other benefit of ear acupuncture for PTSD is that it does not require the soldier to have to talk about their feelings. They can chooses to speak about their experiences or they can merely sit or lie there with the needles for 30 meditative minutes. One soldier I treated told me that it was the first time in a long time that they had ever felt so calm since being in the service. It helped them to let go.

If you or anybody you know needs treatment for PTSD or you are curious about it, please contact me at 562-473-5371 and ask for Grace.

Graceful Points

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