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New Hope for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
by admin on: July 11th, 2011

The term post traumatic stress disorder became more known to the general public when it was used to describe anxiety problems that affected veterans who had served in the Vietnam War. Prior to the Vietnam War, the illness was often referred to as shell shock; the extreme trauma some soldiers had after returning home from violent war zones. The syndrome does not affect only war survivors, however. It is an anxiety problem that can cause symptoms in anyone who has experienced a deeply traumatic event.

The syndrome involves the feelings of panic that come when a person mentally relives a deeply traumatic incident. The syndrome can bring with it feelings of extreme stress and anxiety that make daily life nearly unlivable. Along with re-experiencing the traumatic episode, people with PTSD may also avoid any people or places that bring back memories related to the trauma. A sense of heightened physical stress, including feelings of nervousness, anger or jumpiness may also be experienced. The symptoms of PTSD can be so pronounced they become debilitating, making the person with the syndrome unable to function and lead an active life.

The treatment for people with PTSD has generally been a course of psychotherapy along with antidepressant or anti-anxiety medications. Though these treatments are effective, they can take months to bring relief and the medication comes with side effects, including weight gain and stomach problems.

Now, however, a new therapy is showing great promise in relieving the symptoms of PTSD. New research on the disorder at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Baltimore has studied the effects of an injectable medication on retired soldiers. As reported on ABC News, the new treatment, called the Stellate Ganglion Block, is an anesthetic that is administered into the patient’s neck in a procedure that lasts just ten minutes. The block has been shown to be effective in bringing relief to the symptoms of PTSD, including flashbacks, anxiety and sleep problems.

How is it that one shot can stop these harrowing symptoms, which are usually only relieved with months and years of therapy and medication? Doctors have found that one symptom that comes from an extremely traumatic experience is the sudden growth of nerves, which can lead to a boost in adrenaline in the brain, causing stress symptoms including feelings of anxiety and panic. By applying the local anesthetic to the nerve center in the neck, the growth of nerves is impeded and stress symptoms subside. The effect of the nerve block is said to come on within a half hour.

The treatment is still being tested, but doctors involved in the study hope it will soon become a standard treatment for PTSD. The cost for the treatment is expected to be within a range of $500 to $1000.

For the many patients suffering from stress disorders, this new finding may bring a welcome sigh of relief.

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