Solving the problem of PTSD
In today’s military when soldiers return home from the battlefield around 18.5% or 300,000 of them are diagnosed with PTSD and or major depression disorder.
PTSD is described as, “an anxiety disorder associated with serious traumatic events and characterized by such symptoms as survivor guilt, reliving the trauma in dreams, numbness and lack of involvement with reality, or recurrent thoughts and images.”
Major depressive disorder is characterized by at least two weeks of low mood that is present across most situations. The different programs available for veterans returning home with disorders like these are sometimes hard to navigate and are quick to prescribe a pill, some marijuana, or other drugs in order to combat the side-effects.
But, after attending a screening for the movie, Thank You For Your Service directed by Tom Donahue we quickly learned that these were not the only options available for our veterans. There are many prescription free treatments that have been proven to work time and time again for veterans everywhere.
Drug-Free PTSD Therapy
Programs can range from equine therapy to team building challenges lead by former veterans themselves. One such program is called, Save a Warrior, which consists of historic rituals, ceremonies, personal instruction, story telling, and other daily practices which help the veterans establish a sense of being present and alive, away from their thoughts and feelings.
One positive thing about these treatment programs is that they are locally owned which means no medications, no pills, and no drugs, which helps these men and women heal naturally and at their own speed.
There are a lot of different places that offer PTSD therapy free of charge for veterans and their families suffering from the disorder.
PTSD Equine Therapy
For instance in Leesburg, VA there is a company that offers equine-assisted activities and therapies to military families free of charge, in gratitude for the service that all the military family members provide for our country.
The company is called, “Bridle Paths” and their founder Kathleen Fallon is a PATH certified Advanced Level Therapeutic Riding Instructor with over ten years of experience.
Why horse therapy you may ask? Well, “Horses are prey animals, acutely attuned to their environments and to nonverbal communication, and they live and engage in a herd environment that offers safety and community. Although difficult emotions (such as anxiety, distrust, and perhaps even fear) can arise when working with horses, those emotions can be processed in a safe way, working with the horses and with a trained professional staff.”
Another alternative therapy method that has been making waves in the scientific community is EDMR therapy which stands for: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. This is, “an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma.
It is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches.” This therapy is said to treat a variety of symptoms including: panic attacks, complicated grief, disturbing memories, phobias, addiction, personality disorders and many others.
This therapy targets the part of the brain that holds onto emotionally scaring or powerful memories that a patient cannot cope with and helps to relax the mind in order for the brain to store the memory accurately to help the person move through the pain on their own accord.
One thing that is particularly neat about this therapy is that the patient does not have to go into specific detail about the traumatic event they are getting help for, they just need to give a generic description of why they came to seek help.
Agricultural PTSD Therapy
Another treatment method that literally goes back to the roots of healing is farming for veterans. This process helps veterans understand what is necessary for them to grow in their own lives while helping the plants grow in the dirt.
By planting each seed by hand it reinforces the life cycle and helps reiterate that people are always there for you helping the veterans grow just like their plants.
Wounded Warrior Project- Bike Rides
The Wounded Warrior Project also does its share for helping our veterans. Each year, they put on multiple events across the country but we found one that has various locations in the U.S. and it’s called, “Ride for the Honored Heroes.”
This event is a single day cycling event (bike or motorcycle depending on the place) and 100% of all money raised is donated to helping our men and women in uniform when they arrive back home in the states.
These honor rides are great for building camaraderie among the soldiers-something that is lost upon returning home from deployment. Being around other people who are experiencing similar things can help people to work through what is going on in their own lives better than dealing with it on your own.
Sweat Lodge PTSD Therapy
Lastly in the movie, Thank you for your service, there is a scene where the veterans gather together at an Native American run retreat in order to participate in the ritual of, “Sweat Lodge Therapy” which is exactly what it sounds like.
First, the participants will fast for about a day in order to begin the re birthing process, then they will walk to the hut or tent where the ritual will be performed.
Stones are heated in a fire and then placed on the floor where participants will then enter the tent and the door will remain closed except for the four times that it is opened during the ceremony in order for the fresh air to rejuvenate the members.
This ceremony is meant to re-birth the spirit by first cleansing them of food and then second, having them sweat out the different toxins that might already be in their system washing away the different things that are carried with them on a day to day basis.
This ritual has been performed for hundreds of years and it has been one of the more effective methods for Complementary alternative medicine (CAM).
Different CAM therapies can be found here.
For further information about equine-assisted activities and therapies in their communities, veterans and service members can contact the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) Intl. at www.pathintl.org, and the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) at www.eagala.org.