When veterans develop post-traumatic stress disorder, one of the last things they want to do is think about the painful experience that affected them so greatly. However, processing traumatic memories on a repeated basis may be one way to help former servicemembers overcome PTSD, according to a new study.
Exposure therapy could ease the pain of PTSD
The study, which was conducted by researchers from the National Center for PTSD, VA Palo Alto Health Care System in California, found that prolonged exposure therapy may be a big help to veterans struggling with PTSD, Reuters reported. For those who have this mental condition, the idea of tackling their memories head on is far from desirable. However, this action could prove to these individuals that they still have control.
"One of the important factors in chronic PTSD is avoidance – avoiding thinking about the trauma and avoiding going to places that remind you of the trauma or are similar," Edna Foa, head of the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as a developer of prolonged exposure therapy, told the news source.
Essentially, in prolonged exposure therapy individuals with PTSD repeatedly process painful memories. At the same time, they approach situations that typically create feelings of anxiety in a safe way. All together, these techniques have the potential to reduce PTSD symptoms.
"They realize they can talk about this event, and they don't fall apart," Foa said. "It gives them a sense of control over the memory, rather than the memory controlling them."
A major problem
While prolonged exposure therapy may not work for every veteran, it does not hurt for members of this population to consider their options. PTSD has become a major problem in a time when so many American troops have been fighting overseas. Experts believe that this condition develops among 11 to 20 percent of veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
With so many American veterans returning home with PTSD, it is essential for these individuals to receive the care they deserve. Former servicemembers may be able to rely on their veterans insurance to help them cover the cost of treatments that can drastically improve their quality of life.