Written by Rebecca Ruiz.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is one of the signature wounds of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars; according to one estimate, as many as 20 percent of the service members who were deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan have the psychiatric condition.
These patients often experience disabling symptoms, including feeling jittery or on constant alert. They also may have difficulty sleeping, exaggerated startling to noises, trouble concentrating, and shortened breath. Some of these unnerving sensations are hallmarks of hyperarousal, a key symptom of PTSD, and one that makes it difficult for a patient to return to a calm and relaxed state.
PTSD is typically treated with anti-depressant medication, cognitive behavioral therapy or exposure therapy, all of which have demonstrated some benefit in studies. Treating veterans with PTSD is a unique challenge, however, as they can be reluctant to rely on a drug or dislike its side effects and may be skeptical of talk therapy.
Emma Seppala, associate director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University, believes her research may offer an effective alternative treatment.
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