CAN ACUPUNCTURE RELIEVE SYMPTOMS OF PTSD?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that often originates from periods of emotional, physical or mental trauma. Due to the nature of its cause, PTSD affects members of the military across the world; in August this year, The Independent revealed that the annual number of mental disorder pay-outs from the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme has increased by 379 per cent from 2009-10 in comparison to 2015-16. It’s total of 580 pay outs is the highest ever seen since the scheme began 11 years ago.

With more concern than ever about the effect of the mental scars endured by our Armed Forces, research into possible treatments has reached new heights. Typical forms of recommended treatment include; psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, group therapy and forms of medication such as antidepressants. You can find out more about these options and what they involve at NHS Choices.

Acupuncture is a reasonably new method of treatment for sufferers of PTSD. The traditional process stems from ancient Chinese medicine and involves stimulating sensory nerves under the skin and in the muscles of the body,  Typically, acupuncture is used as a treatment option for persistent physical problems such as neck and back pain, but has also been found effective in treating conditions such as anxiety and insomnia.

Organic Facts discusses studies that have shown ‘acupuncture increases the secretion of nocturnal melatonin, which is a chemical that aids and induces sleep.’ In a test study group, results showed that regular acupuncture decreased the presence of insomnia within just 5 weeks.

Recently, further evidence has been released that suggests the positive effects this natural treatment can have for individuals suffering from PTSD. In comparison to other methods of treatment for the condition, acupuncture offers a technique that does not require sufferer to vocally share or re live their experience with anyone, which is a significant part of more standard treatment options, such as counselling.

Acupuncture for PTSD usually involves targeting points of the body that control specific brain areas that control nervous functioning and mitigate stress levels. The Pacific College of Oriental Medicine discusses studies by the Pentagon, that suggest a high success rate when treating soldiers affected by the condition. According to the results from trials, ‘combat veterans were relieved of their symptoms and experienced reduced depression, as well as pain.’ They also note that the improvements were found to be ‘very rapid’, another significant finding as most standard forms of treatment need to be undertaken for several months before any improvement is seen.

Although overall studies on the method of treatment are scarce, The British Acupuncture Council also believes that evidence ‘does lie promisingly in a positive direction, and, given the very low level of side effects and lack of demonstrably superior outcomes from other interventions, acupuncture could be considered as one possible therapeutic option alongside the existing repertoire.’ You can visit their website here to find out more about treating PTSD with acupuncture.

If you are considering having acupuncture, its a good idea to book an initial meeting with a consultant so that you can discuss your symptoms and treatment options. An acupuncturist will want to check your medical history, and get an overall idea of your health and lifestyle, in order to put the most effective treatment plan in place.

To find your local acupuncture clinic, use our map below

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Written by Trinity Insurance

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