There are more than 18 million veterans in the US today. An estimated 10% to 30% of these veterans returned home from deployment with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and about 25% of all military personnel develop this mental health condition at some point in their life.
With Veterans Day just around the corner, one way we can recognize this community of heroes is by raising awareness around the real life struggles of PTSD sufferers. Better treatment of PTSD is essential and finally gaining traction.
Although PTSD is the most common reason for veteran disability claims, many of the traditional treatment options available to veterans, such as psychotherapy and prescription drugs, only work about 30% of the time and take months or even years to provide relief. The costs of these treatments range from $6,000 to $30,000 per patient a year.
PTSD is commonly called an “invisible wound,” but functional MRI imaging shows that the condition is real and visible. PTSD is a tangible biological condition and can be treated as such with deactivation of an overactive sympathetic nervous system (responsible for fight or flight reflexes).
I was lucky enough to develop a breakthrough alternative 11 years ago that gives veterans a much faster, safe and effective option for PTSD relief. I adapted the Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB), an anesthetic procedure that has been used to treat multiple pain conditions since 1925. The procedure is now transforming PTSD care.
Many veterans and their family lives have already been renewed with this treatment, which has been reported on in the medical literature from Walter Reed Military Hospital, Tripler Army Hospital, Long Beach VA, and San Diego Naval Hospital .
The procedure involves placing local anesthetic on a clumping of nerves called the sympathetic system ganglion in the neck that affect the amygdala (the brain’s fear center). This approach seems to reboot the brain to the pre-trauma state.
The SGB can take effect in under 30 minutes, and the latest variation of this technique has an 80% to 90% success rate in treating PTSD. These results last for months or years.
The treatment has been used in over 3,000 patients with PTSD and is giving much-needed hope to veterans living with this devastating condition. With 1,000 veterans attempting suicide every month, more must be done to care for and treat conditions like PTSD that affect veterans’ mental and physical well-being.
As November 11th approaches remember the veterans in your community and look for ways to recognize their service as well as the health challenges they confront after active duty.