PTSD and anxiety affect millions, but a radical treatment at a Utah clinic offers hope

Estimated reading time: 5-6 minutes

Many people cheerfully joke about “getting PTSD” (post-traumatic stress disorder) after unpleasant life experiences. But those living with this debilitating condition know it’s anything but a joke.

The American Psychiatric Association states that PTSD “is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, serious accident, terrorist act, war/combat, or rape, or who have have been threatened with death, sexual violence or serious injury”.

Symptoms can be debilitating and interfere with daily life. It includes feelings of shame, fear, self-destructive behavior, intrusive thoughts, aggressive behavior, distressing dreams, trouble sleeping, and more.

If you’re part of the 3.5% of the US adult population who suffer from PTSD, you may have tried a variety of treatments, but these symptoms keep popping up, diminishing your quality of life.

Well, now a new treatment offers hope to many who thought relief was impossible.

PTSD and anxiety affect millions, but a radical treatment at a Utah clinic offers hope
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Understanding the brain’s fight or flight response

When your brain perceives that you are in danger, it activates the fight or flight response, also known as the acute stress response. Verywell Mind states that this danger can be something physical, such as a barking dog, or psychological, such as preparing to give a big presentation. Sometimes it can be triggered by something that isn’t a real threat, but your brain thinks it is. (Phobias are a good example. Someone with claustrophobia, the fear of confined spaces, may feel their heart begin to pound while riding in an elevator, for example.)

While this can serve as a good defense mechanism to protect yourself in harmful situations, some people, including people with PTSD, can experience an overactive fight-or-flight response.

According to WebMD, “PTSD causes your brain to get stuck in danger mode. Even after you’re no longer in danger, it stays on high alert. Your body continues to send stress signals, which lead to symptoms of PTSD. Studies show that the part of the brain that manages fear and emotion (the amygdala) is more active in people with PTSD.”

If this has been your experience, it’s time to finally break the cycle.

How a stellate ganglion block (SGB) can ease your troubled mind

For decades, doctors and researchers have been working to find a good solution for people suffering from PTSD. But developing an effective treatment that is safe and fast-acting (with few side effects) has proven difficult. A study published in PubMed Central reports that “Success rates for PTSD treatments are generally variable, with remission rates ranging from 30% to 40%.” But now a new treatment called Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) is showing promising results and could provide the relief people are looking for.

SGB ​​is a simple outpatient procedure that involves an injection at the base of the neck, where the stellate ganglion, a collection of nerves, is located. Because it’s connected to the amygdala (the part of the brain that manages fear), it can temporarily subdue the fight-or-flight response.

RTI International launched a randomized controlled trial of SGB in 2014 and concluded in 2019 that the treatment “is indeed effective” after monitoring patients’ health outcomes for eight weeks after the injections. The study also showed improvement in depression, distress, anxiety, pain, and physical and mental functioning.

“SGB is a real breakthrough in the treatment of PTSD,” states the non-profit research institute. “It’s a powerful new option for PTSD sufferers that can be more readily accepted by military service members and veterans, for whom the stigma associated with mental health care is often a deterrent to seeking treatment . We hope our study is the first step toward healing for millions of veterans and others for whom PTSD symptoms have long been a barrier to a better life.”

A separate study from PubMed Central concluded that SGB “is a minimally invasive procedure with an excellent safety profile that can provide sustained relief of PTSD symptoms. The procedure may also provide benefits for those who are resistant to intervention psychotropic”.

So far, the outlook is positive that GBS may be a safe and effective alternative for the treatment of PTSD and anxiety. The best way to find out if it is right for you is to consult a medical professional.

Why it’s important to seek treatment right away

If you or someone you know suffers from PTSD or severe anxiety, it’s important to get medical help as soon as possible. Aside from the toll this condition takes on a person’s mental health, it can also cause serious physical damage to the brain. WebMD states that PTSD can cause the hippocampus (the area that controls your memory) to shrink over time.

Early treatment improves your quality of life in both the short and long term, so don’t put off getting the help you need! Schedule an appointment with Aspen Orthopain Pain and Spine and take back control of your life.

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