Therapy or Pharmacy?

Trauma, such as “shell shock” and  PTSD, was once thought untreatable, or at best, given symptom relief.

Looking for simple answers, we hoped there was a simple biological method that if we could just “tip in” the right chemical, we could “sweeten” the brain.

Although billions of dollars have since been spent researching the “magic pill” to treat trauma, after several decades there is now emerging a view  from ASCA,  other experts and international bodies, that medication should be used only as an adjunct to treatment, not the main form of treatment.

So if there is no “magic pill”, what is left?

Psychotherapy and other methods which help to integrate and heal the nervous system states of hyper (stress, anxiety, panic) and hypo (depression, low motivation) arousal. This includes working with the procedural memories of the body, to heal flashbacks, patterns or automatic response, and other symptoms of trauma such as anxiety, depression and somatic conditions.

Why is this option important to think about? Unfortunately there is emerging evidence that some groups of drugs actually interfere with the healing process, for example Benzodiazepines can impair the function of a part of the brain (hippocampus) which helps to settle stress.

However, some people may benefit  from the use of medications, especially in the short term. You should discuss with your doctor the treatment process that is best for you, however, at the very least it may be worthwhile discussing with your doctor what other processes could be helpful, or could be introduced in addition to medication.