Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is one of the most prevalent mental health disorders afflicting veterans in the United States. To combat this crisis, medical research professionals are searching for new and inventive solutions.
According to Veterans Affairs, 6 out of every 100 people will suffer from PTSD at some point in their lifetime. During any given year, 15 million adults have PTSD in the United States, which is only a fraction of the total number of people who have gone through a traumatic event. PTSD disproportionately affects veterans. Depending on the conflict or theater of war, 11% to nearly 30% of veterans have experienced PTSD in their lifetime. Given how many people will suffer from PTSD in their lifetime, PTSD research is one of the most important fields of work in medicine today.
Current PTSD Treatment
For PTSD to be treated, it must be diagnosed. It is important for veterans and non-veterans alike to talk with mental health professionals if they believe they are suffering from PTSD. PTSD will not go away on its own. In fact, left untreated, PTSD is likely to get worse. It is important to monitor how long symptoms of PTSD persist. While it is normal to be affected by a traumatic event, such as military service, in the days, weeks, and months after the traumatic event, when negative symptoms persist for longer than a few months or years, it could be PTSD.
It is never too late to get treated for PTSD. Once someone is diagnosed with PTSD there are several treatment options available. It is important to find a PTSD program. VA has invaluable resources for those trying to find a treatment program. Once a program has been identified, veterans will work with mental health care providers to identify the best path forward. There are a variety of medications and therapy options available, including prolonged exposure therapy (PE), cognitive processing therapy (CPT), and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). Even if one treatment plan might not initially work, there are many other options to try. However, for some, all the currently available treatment options are not enough.
Future PTSD Treatments
New treatments for PTSD must be pursued to help those who do not respond to current treatments. Future PTSD research relies on continued innovation, time, money, and effort. A study at Cincinnati VA is trying to determine if biological differences in people with and without PTSD can be used to speed up the process of diagnosing PTSD. Faster diagnosis means getting people the treatment they need faster. A different research team revealed a future where PTSD will not be treated but prevented. The team identified a protein that is elevated in patients who suffer from PTSD. The team then developed a peptide to target the protein, and preliminary research results suggest that this peptide prevented the development of frightening memories.
A headline grabbing article recently suggested that MDMA, the chemical found in ecstasy, was more affective at treating PTSD than some common therapy methods. Another, no less dramatic, headline revealed that ketamine was another potentially beneficial medication for treating PTSD.
Regardless of the type of treatment, the future of PTSD treatment should be evidence based and science driven. While the methods that are used to combat PTSD vary, the hope for a future with fewer PTSD cases is shared by all medical professionals. The future of PTSD treatment gives hope to its sufferers and illuminates a future where the treatments might be a little faster and a little more reliable at helping those who need it.