PTSD Monthly Update

In This Issue

October 2012 Issue


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Dogs, Meditation, Yoga:

Alternative Treatments for PTSD

a man hugging his dog

We are often asked about types of treatments know as CAM, Complementary and Alternative Techniques. These are treatments that fall outside of traditional Western medicine. Complementary refers to the use of these techniques in combination with conventional approaches, whereas alternative refers to their use instead of conventional practices.

Some examples include:

·         Vitamins, supplements, diets

·         Meditation, acupuncture, yoga, aromatherapy

·         Massage, chiropractic care

·         Whole medicine systems: like Ayurvedic medicine

·         Dog therapy, equine therapy, music therapy

Some people find that CAM treatments help improve their symptoms or help them cope with their symptoms. Research to support these claims is still at an early stage. Most types of CAM have never been systematically studied. It’s difficult to draw firm conclusions from the few that have. However, at this point meditation and acupuncture appear most promising.

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For Providers

Complementary and Alternative Techniques

Our latest issue of the PTSD Research Quarterly (RQ) reviews the research on: Complementary and Alternative Treatments for PTSD by J. Strauss and A. Lang.

Also, view the PTSD 101 course: Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and PTSD. This course provides an overview of the VA/DoD PTSD Clinical Practice Guideline for the use of CAM for PTSD, including research evidence and recommendations.

NEW Online Products

We are creating Toolkits for clergy, employers, police, college campus staff, and community mental health providers. Two are now available:

·         VA Campus Toolkit: Provides college faculty, staff, and administrators with resources to support student Veterans who are adjusting to campus life.

·         Community Provider Toolkit: Features support for mental health providers caring for Veterans. Learn how to connect with VA, understand military culture, and access Veteran-specific treatments in mini clinics.

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 For VA Providers

VA HSR&D 2011 Report on CAM

Efficacy of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Therapies for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is an evidence synthesis requested by VA Research and Development to inform decisions on the need for research in this area.

VA PTSD Intranet Site

Visit for more treatment resources for VA PTSD staff working with Veterans, including the PE and CPT rollout sites.

VA PTSD Consultation Program

Consultation Program

Anyone working with Veterans can get a free PTSD consult. Call 866-948-7880 or email:

Presentation: 11/20 - Dr. Karen Seal, PhD and John McKellar on Chronic Pain Patients with PTSD.

3rd Tuesday of the month, 2 pm EST. Based on questions posed to the VA PTSD Consultation Program. VA staff please email

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Research at the Center

Researchers at the Behavioral Science Division are developing a group-based Tai Chi program for Veterans and will test its impact on PTSD, chronic pain, depression and well being. Learn more about some of our ongoing PTSD research opportunities.

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PTSD in the News

Benzodiazepines. Often used for anxiety, "benzos" may be of some help at first, but they do not treat the core PTSD symptoms and can have harmful effects. Read more on prescribing practices: Gender Differences in Prescribing Among Veterans Diagnosed with PTSD*.

Exposure-Based PTSD Therapy Doesn’t Worsen Drug Abuse. Dr. Paula Schnurr talks with PsychiatryOnline about the misplaced fear clinicians may have in using exposure therapy to treat PTSD in patients who also have substance abuse problems. Read more*

Fish Oil. A new grant studies the role of Omega-3 (fish oil) in helping prevent military suicide attempts. Read more*

Please encourage your colleagues and others to subscribe to the PTSD Monthly Update!

Feature topic next month - Honoring Them: Veterans Day 2012

The Staff of the National Center for PTSD

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Produced by VA’s National Center for PTSD - Executive Division
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*Links will take you outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs website to a non government site.
VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of these linked websites.

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