A recent opinion piece in The New York Times notes that suicide is now the leading cause of death in the army and argues that more promising alternative therapies need to be put in place in order to help soldiers with mental health issues, most notably post-traumatic stress disorder, and prevent suicide.
The article notes that many alternative therapies have been found to be promising in the treatment of PTSD, including group therapy and mind-body techniques, such as meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, bio-feedback, dance, self-expression and guided visual imagery.
While PTSD can affect anyone who has gone through a traumatic experience, including victims of sexual assault or other crimes, thousands of soldiers have returned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with symptoms of PTSD. Many also have traumatic brain injuries, depression, chronic pain and other issues that exacerbate their recovery from PTSD and vice versa. Many vets struggle to return to civilian life or to combat because of their PTSD and related conditions and may need to apply for disability benefits.
In order to prevent suicide and to adjust once again to civilian life, veterans with PTSD need help. Many soldiers may be reluctant to try or to continue with individual psychotherapy because they may feel a pressure to relive experiences they spend most of their time trying to forget. About 40 percent of vets who do complete individual psychotherapy are cured from PTSD. For vets who do not finish or feel comfortable with individual therapy, there is also group therapy.
The next post will continue to discuss this topic.
Source: The New York Times, "For Veterans, a Surge of New Treatments for Trauma," Tina Rosenberg, Sept. 26, 2012
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