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Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Pill to Prevent PTSD

I have to laugh when I read this kind of stuff. Are they gonna give a pill after every firefight and every IED? After every time a pedophile molests a kid whom he or she has picked because the parents won't know or won't believe? After every time a battered wife is battered?
This morning, I was thinking about the brain-based survival skills that are activated by danger. We all have them. They are built into us. Attention to threat, the ability to rapidly adapt to whatever is going on (i.e. numbing) and the capacity to pour on the adrenaline to move before thought and do whatever it takes to survive don't reside in the forebrain where we think, use words, use logic, plan. These abilities are built into what they called the reptile brain when I was in high school biology, a part of the brain that doesn't speak English, and can't tell time, so it can't tell something is over. It is also a better safe than sorry system, so it keeps reminding the survivor that the world is not safe.
And they are going to disable this with a pill? Don't they think this system is what has kept the human race alive?
If you jump at a cat, you see the same system in action. Move, adapt, live!
There's a book about meditation, Don't Just Do Something, Sit There. People with PTSD don't need a pill, they need training in techniques that allow them to choose when to be numb (it can have certain advantages when dealing with bureaucracy) and when to feel, when to let hyperalertness take over and when to be calm, when to remember and when to step away from the memories. Meditation is one way to learn how to do this. So is yoga. Somatic therapies developed by Pat Ogden and Babette Rothschild also work. So do the exercises taught in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy developed by Marsha Linehan.
They also need to process what happened to them, moving the non-verbal memories which keep activating symptoms into the forebrain by using words, writing or talking about what happened. It hurts, but then they have already lived through the pain of the actual events.
Avoidance perpetuates PTSD.
Is this pill a form of avoidance? Who knows? I don't, and they don't, but I just can't imagine soldiers taking a pill after every firefight. Would they lose their edge? Who will volunteer to find that out or are we just going to blindly do it like they are now doing with sending soldiers back who have PTSD, on drugs that are un-tested in randomized clinical combat trials?


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  3. Neurofeedback can help PTSD

    VETERANS - Any qualifying Vet with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI - Blow to the head, loss of consciousness) living near Wash. DC (or Frederick, MD) can get free biofeedback treatments while participating in a study. For more info see: - Call for more info - Brain Wellness and Biofeedback Center of Washington (301) 215-7721 or email

    What is Neurofeedback? Biofeedback? Check out these videos:

    Also see VERY SUCCESSFUL 2009 Vet Study - http://www.brainwellnessan