Are ‘Gold Standard’ Treatments Passe?
It’s time for us to accept an uncomfortable reality: our evidence based, ‘Gold Standard’ treatments for PTSD and associated comorbid conditions such as depression, sleep disorders, addiction, etc., have failed to fully remediate the symptoms of this trauma induced, life altering condition. Our current treatments require: too many visits and/or hospitalizations; are too costly; involve too many specialists (psychiatric, addiction, sleep, etc.); require training by clinicians who are inclined to not use the procedures in the clinical setting; are resisted by our military and first responders because they are perceived to be indicative of a character weakness or cowardly trait. Many of our military, veterans and first responders choose to use alcohol or drugs to temporarily escape the symptoms of PTSD or Compassion Fatigue rather than to seek out treatment through ‘mental health’ experts.
The reason for this failure is now firmly established through neuro-scientific inquiry into the functioning of the brain. It is now evident that PTSD is caused by a network failure that alters the mind due to the effects of trauma switching it into a ‘protect and defend’ mode. This is equivalent to your computer malfunctioning due to a ‘virus.’ Imagine trying to stand in front of your computer and talking to it so that it might come to operate the way it did before it became infected. With PTSD, the expressive and receptive components of the ‘speech center’ in the brain shut down just like your computer does. When you understand this after consulting a computer geek, you will likely try to ‘reboot’ your computer’s operating system as a first step. With PTSD, we must also ‘reboot’ the brain’s operating system by ’turning off the fear switch’ to place it back once again into a ‘growth’ mode.
Before discussing how this might be done, I’d like you to be aware of a RAND Corporation release of a recent (7/2/017) Final Report entitled "Quality of Care for PTSD and Depression in the Military Health System." The study found that: “fewer than half of service members screened positively for PTSD and depression received adequate care when beginning treatment. RAND also found that quality of care varied by branch of service and location, indicating that best practices are not being shared, and resources are insufficient.”
The authors further concluded that: “while there are some strengths, quality of care for psychological health conditions delivered by the MHS should be improved. For both PTSD and depression, we observed low percentages (36% and 25%, respectively) of adequate initial care in the first eight weeks following an initial diagnosis (either for psychotherapy or medication management visits)” (“Quality of Care for PTSD and Depression in the Military Health System: Final Report - RAND Report on PTS 2017 (3).pdf,”)(page 154)
So how do we alter these dismal findings? A number of alternative interventions are offering promise. Ours is called RESET Therapy and operates by resetting the neuronal trauma network in the brain. It is done by using a special bi-neural sound that interrupts the brain’s long-term memory reinstallation (reconsolidation) process. By doing this, the emotional component in the trauma drops out thereby transforming the individual from a ‘protect and defend’ mode back to the ‘growth’ mode that was previously in place. The results tend to be: rapid thereby requiring fewer treatment sessions; can be learned quickly by clinical staff; can be accepted by those in the ‘macho’ culture as it has nothing to do with strength of character. Rather, it merely involves’ ‘resetting the ‘trauma switch’ in the brain. Where there was despair, there can now be hope. Our tentative findings in a study of 36 combat veterans from three eras: Vietnam; Gulf Wars; Iraq/Afghanistan, are showing impressive results within the context of four treatment sessions. Others are exploring different ways to alter the malfunctioning circuitry of the brain. It is time to welcome alternative solutions so that we may resolve this life altering problem once and for all.
Hepner, K. A., Roth, C. P., Sloss, E. M., Paddock, S. M., Iyiewuare, P. O., Timmer, M. J., & Pincus, H. A. (2017). Quality of Care for PTSD and Depression in the Military Health System. https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR1542.html