Back in World War I when we were trying to treat soldiers experiencing “shell shock” (later known as PTSD), a new profession known as Occupational Therapy was founded.
The thought at that time was that these shell shocked soldiers would find relief quicker by doing something rather than just talking about their experiences.
It has taken the mental health field decades to catch on to this idea.
Talk therapy can do wonders in many circumstances, but it can also run the risk of re-traumatizing patients suffering with PTSD.
Bill O’Hanlon, LMFT, made the point in a recent interview that talk therapy has been known to traumatize even the therapist.
So what else can we do?
Lots of things. We’ve known for years that exercise was helpful in treating depression but a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine reported that patients who exercised experienced a 20% decrease in anxiety compared to those who didn’t exercise.
Researchers from the University of Georgia analyzed the results from 40 randomized controlled clinical trials involving nearly 3,000 patients who suffered from a variety of medical conditions.
In 90% of the studies, participants who were assigned to the exercise group exhibited fewer anxiety symptoms, including worry, apprehension and nervousness than those participants in the control group.
And individuals who exercised for 30 minutes or more per session received more anxiety relief than those exercising for shorter periods.
So let’s follow the original Occupational Therapy message and add exercise to our arsenal of treatments!
Because PTSD is so pervasive and because a history of trauma is frequently associated with chronic disease, it is a subject brought up often in NICABM’s programs on trauma treatment.
Leave a comment below and tell us about your experience in treating patients with PTSD.