Between 11 and 20 out of every 100 vets who served in OIF or OEF have PTSD in a given year, compared to 12 out of 100 for Gulf War vets, and 15 out of 100 for Vietnam War vets. Different factors can contribute to the severity of this condition, including one’s role in a war, its location, and the type of circumstances faced. PTSD has long-term effects that can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. However, innovations are continually being made to improve the quality of treatments received. Below are just a few recent breakthroughs that have proven successful in scientific studies.
Ketamine is showing great promise in treating PTSD, as was found in a January, 2021 study conducted by researchers from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. The participants (aged 18 to 70) had severe and chronic PTSD, with a median duration of 15 years. The findings showed that repeated intravenous ketamine infusions significantly reduced the severity of symptoms in those with chronic PTSD. Moreover, the improvement was rapid, and lasted for several weeks after the treatment. Finally, ketamine was found to be safe and well tolerated, with any side effects being minor and temporary.
In January, 2020, scientists from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health achieved a breakthrough in the treatment of PTSD. The team identified a protein complex that is present at high levels in people with PTSD. They then developed a peptide that targets and disrupts the protein complex. Doing so stopped people from recalling or encoding fear memories. This suggests that the peptide could be a vital aid in the prevention and/or treatment of PTSD symptoms.
Yet another study, undertaken at Linköping University in Sweden, found that a medication that increases levels of the body’s own cannabis-like compounds, endocannabinoids, could help people unlearn fear memories. This class of medications, called FAAH inhibitors, blocks the manner in which the human system breaks down its own cannabis-like compounds. This medication is meant for use alongside prolonged exposure therapy (PE therapy), which allows patients to eliminate the danger they associate with traumatic memories. The study showed that in this type of therapy, participants who also received the FAAH inhibitor were more successful at extinguishing or unlearning fear. The scientists reported that although PTSD was a challenging condition to treat, “This is the first mechanism in a long time where promising results from animal experiments seem to hold up when put to test in people.”
PTSD can be a debilitating condition that can interfere with a person’s quality of life and ability to work and carry out daily tasks. A host of new treatments have arisen, with some proving particularly successful. These include ketamine infusions, peptide-based treatments, and the stimulation of natural endocannabinoids. Ketamine is the newest of these treatments, and also one that has provided excellent results that last for several weeks. Moreover, side effects are low to nil, and the treatment is also known for its safety.