It’s difficult to find the right treatment for post-traumatic stress after its diagnosed. Experiences and intensities vary from person to person, and everyone responds differently to treatment. Many Veterans have reported, at an alarming rate, about their reliance on prescription drugs to ease the symptoms of PTSD. Drug cocktails may not be the best option to treat a potentially life-long condition when there are several other alternative therapy options.

Luckily alternative treatments for PTSD are continually developed and refined. One that caught my attention is called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. I won’t pretend to understand the method, but the Boston Globe describes it well:

The therapy typically requires the patient to focus on blinking lights or a practitioner’s finger moving back and forth, usually for a few minutes at a time, while recalling the disturbing memories. In some instances, alternating tones in the ears or electrical pulses in the palms are used instead of visual cues.

EMDR is among the top recommended treatments of PTSD by VA, which also include cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy. Steve Girard, the Veteran in the story, had positive results with EMDR.

PTSD treatment isn’t one size fits all, so if you’re looking for a way to cope and don’t like the idea of medication, perhaps a few of these therapies will suit you better.

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Published on Jul. 22, 2011

Estimated reading time is 1.1 min.

Views to date: 265


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  2. WomanVet November 28, 2011 at 5:43 am

    I wish I could’ve written this long before all of you wrote your concerns. I’ve been doing EMDR treatment for over the past six months. This is not just some system the VA made up to treat vets, this isn’t something you can just perform as any therapist, you have to be a trained EMDR specialist to even administer it.

    This treatment has changed my life. My PTSD symptoms have been digressing even since my first time trying it. It is essentially to “dissolve” feelings of anger etc. that are still left in the brain, so you can remember things without such emotional attachment. I didn’t even realize how much my PTSD was affecting my everyday chores in life, from driving to cleaning up the house.

    I am sad to hear most of you think this is a hopeless technique, seeing as how it’s worked so well for me. Isn’t it worth taking an hour out of your day once a week to help you live a happier life?

  3. Jackie Ostema November 16, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    My husband was a Vietnam Veteran US Army 1966-1969. He was diagnosed 100% T&P,service connected, in 2003 from PTSD. He died in May of this year. Cause of death COPD. I remember when he was diagnosed with PTSD at the VA medical center in 2003, his Dr prescriped several anti depressant meds. He decided that ,with these multi colored tablets of varying sizes, he would create an art sculpture for his Dr. He was a talented, well known local artist. The best therapy for his PTSD were his art creations and not pharmicutical drugs. I think the only ones that benefit from these drugs are the CEOs and Share Holders of the companys that manufacture them. Thanks.

  4. VeteranFromPennsylvania October 28, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    Rapid eye movement therapy is not accepted as anything other than quackery by any respectable association like the AMA or APA etc. The Woman that concocted it never did a control group study. No-one has. She never intended it for veterans that suffered service related stressors, especially many different and continuous stressors over years of deployment/service. Anyone that understands Operant Conditioning and Systematic Desensitization and anxiety treatments, would understand why this quackery can’t work in any capacity other than a placebo,or as something to satisfy Senators and Congressman receiving complaints from Veteran constituents.
    The Department of Veteran’s Affairs won’t spend (congress won’t spend) the money to hire qualified PhD Psychologists to treat the Veteran’s at the BHC’s, so “nurse clinicians, social workers, with a few PhD/PsyD personnel who got their degrees in fields like sports pain management or family counseling, or did their thesis on ” a study of life satisfaction between Christians and Athiests” with barely any license at all are left way over their heads trying anything (or nothing) to treat the Veterans. Service connected Veterans that complain of mistreatment at the VISN -4 network are thrown out of the VA hospital and /or forced to try and use the generally unheard of and unusable “Fee Basis” program in their rural Western PA towns where the hospital and physician staffs refuse to even try and Bill the VA, and won’t accept the patients.
    in a country that claims to care about it’s Veterans, you would think that the population could cough up enough money to hire real Psychologists and Psychiatrists to treat us Veterans instead of subjecting us to humiliating and ridiculous “treatment” concoctions like “Rapid Eye Movement Therapy” or having very young snotty girls slander us and humiliate us , and throw us out of the VA system for complaining about them.
    On at least one occasion, the females that ran a BHC in VISN-4 were actually trying to blame a two war veteran’s service connected problems on his penis size, though none had actually seen it but were making great sport of it.
    Us Veterans deserve better than this.

    • Linda Schneider PhD November 6, 2011 at 12:55 pm

      Actually there are about 20 studies that are controlled studies. Francine Shapiro PhD
      the person who discovered this method 24 years ago comes from a strong research and scientific background.
      While there are many anecdotal reports. of the helpfullness of this method…the research stands on its own, enough that it is recommended by the VA

  5. Jill October 13, 2011 at 8:36 am

    I was almost killed by the VA in November 2010 by being put on 16 meds 6 that were pain meds that included methadone and oxicodione for my back pain the Other meds where for PTSD, Depression, anxiety insomnia, nightmares,All Service Connected Disabilities from 2 Deployment as an MP to Iraq. Got ot of hospital went back to the same phyciatrist in January of 2011 because I was pissed and he made an on the spot diagnosis that I was bipolar and put me on for lithum . It started with 2 pills and every visit I would tell him I fealt like shit and more depressed. By September I was on 6 pills I was living in my closet and not leaving my room or leaving my bed for over 5 days and the look of my son made me sick.I ended up Going for an in patient treatment stay in a hospital for PTSD and took test that ruled out bipolarI and that I had sever PTSD and sever Depression. I was taken off lithum. I fealt instantly better… Sad how the doctors can make thing worse not better, Durring all of this it was like they opened up pandoras box all the nightmares and flash backs came back with a vengance.. I am still suffering with this to this day.

  6. best weight loss pills August 30, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    PTSD is really a serious problem, a tough thing to deal with, and with loved ones who suffer from it.

  7. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder August 27, 2011 at 5:15 am

    I really appreciate with this post.Its very good and informative post. Thanks for sharing

  8. Vic Nixon August 18, 2011 at 9:39 am

    After reading the other comments I realized I wasn’t “OFF TRACK” when it comes to the way I manage my PTSD.

    It’s worked for years: I’ll work like a Bastard for myself! But nobody, I mean nobody can tell me what to do! The VA can keep their psychotropic drugs with all the side-effects, I’m done being a guinea pig for the VA. Marijuana is the only drug I use–it’s the only thing that works to alleviate the effects of PTSD, not cure, just keep me from killing some dirty SOB that desperately needs killing! I made that decision 38 years ago

  9. Dan August 8, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    I am a disabled Vietnam Vet 100% PTSD and have been in the VA system for many years taking god knows what all meds etc. I was OK (?) for years when I could still work for 6 or 7 days a week all kind of hours, but when my physical condition let me down it all caved in on me. Thank God for the VA! I have been in patient in VA phsych wards on several occasions but have found the only thing left that I can do that relieves the crap is to get on my Harley and ride like hell! Without the scoot I would have killed myself already….been married 4 times, have had 35+ jobs, and have been on the end of the rope several times. Hope the meds and the Harley let me live a little longer, but hell, I’ve been here longer than I was supposed to be anyway just like the rest of us worn-out Nam vets……..

  10. captkessler August 8, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    I am a Vietnam veteran 101st airborne, recondo (2/502). I had PTSD when I left Nam. ..but did not know it.
    I worked my ass off sometimes 18hrs a day so I would not have to sleep as much. I found
    relief in immersing myself in physical hobbies such as diving, scuba, spearfishing, ocean sailing, skydiving, fishing
    and shooting at a target range.
    I found after 40 years the sleep deprivation finally caught up with me. I never succumbed to alchohol or drugs,since I knew I would be out of control.
    Went to the VA and found I had PTSD among other ailments(Agent Orange). The first thing the VA offers is drugs.
    I informed the VA …NO DRUGS…I will work this out .
    1. Talk Therapy
    2. immerse your self in a sport or Thai Chi, kickboxing, skiing, hiking
    3. support from other veterans
    4. NO DRUGS they will make it worse
    6. Look for natural sleep remedies that are not addictive or can not overdose on -check healthfood stores or online
    7. Get a job that you can do that is more self reliant-self employed -since with PTSD we do not work well with civilians. Find a job with the VA.
    8. You only have one family and that is people who have served!
    9. Nutritious diet is so important with PTSD. Stay off refined foods and processed foods and stay away from SUGAR.
    10. Little by little begin to establish trust with someone.
    Hope this helps! keep the faith …ask for guidance…. Remember to live for all those who lost their lives.

    • MJ August 11, 2011 at 3:15 pm

      In my case… this really makes since to me. In everything I have tried through the years… this information of yours is the closest method to the madness I have brought to the table of my so called “Success.” Right On Bro…
      Thank You!!!

  11. cmkessler August 8, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    I have read about Hyperbaric treatments for PTSD and TBI traumatic brain injury. A doctor in Tucson and one in New Orleans are helping veterans for free.
    just google HBOT for brain trauma and PTSD

    My husband suffers from cancer due to exposure to AO and we have used hyperbarics to heal the burns from radiation treatment.

  12. Michael E. Duggins August 8, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Over the years I have tried many different methods and substances in my attempt to free my mind from the hell that PTSD has created. Even if for a short time the release was very much appreciated.

    However, I must caution anyone who has a prescription for pain medication through the VA medical system. I have other physical issues that needed Percocet to manage. I showed up for my appointment with the controlled substances Doc and was ordered to pee in a cup. When the drug test came back I showed positive for Marijuana and Methamphetamine. I was treated very rudely by the Doc and told that I would not get my pain meds renewed, ever. I was informed that I would never again receive pain meds of any kind from the VA… FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE!

    I am still in shock and pain. I would have never dreamed this type of mistreatment was possible in an otherwise compassionate medical environment such as my own VA Hospital. I also have a hard time believing that this type of punishment by a doctor can possibly be legal.

    Is there any legal recourse for me in this situation? I feel like suing the pants off that Doctor and the VA system that allows for this type of cruelty. I am 100% disabled for PTSD so on my budget the doctor visits and subsequent costs for those pain pills would be a hardship.

    Somebody please help me before I lose it. I don’t want the episode that this situation is pushing me toward.

    • Steven Jacoby October 2, 2011 at 9:22 am

      I have run into similar misrepresentations, discrimination, and ignorance pushing me over the edge. I would suggest talking to your Patient Advocate and the Inspector General. Also, Govoners and Senators can help. I have had to go all the way to lawyers.

  13. robert 591 August 8, 2011 at 11:26 am

    i am going to speek with my dr. about this. in dec. i stopped takeing all their pills. 11 different meds. 21 pills a day. i now smoke pot at bed time. it helps me sleep a little bit. we have been doing a thing called eft. where i tap on acupucture points while thinking of the bad memores. i carry a magnent in my pocket to pass over my head to absorb the negative energy from my thouhgts when i have them. i was a security police officer while in the service. i’m not fond of useig pot. but, at this point i am willing to do anything. i can barely leave the house at times. the meds helped some. but made me a zombie so bad i had no feelings about anyone or anything.

  14. MJ August 6, 2011 at 10:57 am

    WOW… And I do mean WOW…
    A couple of weeks ago I had left the second entry on this website thinking “Who will even care about my world and how it pertains to PTSD…” Since then I have been returning back to the website in order to view the comments from my fellow Comrades. Damn… regardless of the information, a big Thanks to all of those who really care about these issues and the need for all of us to find peace with ourselves. Please allow me to also add that each and every person deserves a “hand” in this world for one thing or another… at this time, allow me to offer my “hand” to all of you for a brief moment in guidance as I attempt to stay the course with my me.
    Thanks Again!

  15. Buckley(Weak) August 2, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    After serving for 12 years beginning in 1974 I finally sought help in 2003. I have been battling PTSD for many years. Since receiving help with the VA Mental Help, I believe I am worse. The meds have been changed and overloaded and the flip flop of individuals I have seen is nuts (with some being totally worthlesss). The nightmares are much worse and the mood swings are horrid. I am in hope that if I ask about the EMDR treatment that I can get it and something will click for me. I am so sick of being on deaths door way too many times, while I scream for help. Pleased to hear the treatment works for many. I need something to work for me!

  16. Charles Lindley ("Chucher") August 2, 2011 at 10:16 am

    PTSD has been in my life since 1970. Year after year until just 9 years ago I would use alcohol so I could sleep through the night and to ease up on the nightmares. I tried to get help in 1972 through 1974 from the Veterans Adm. but I saw what I was doing as being weak, helpless and pathetic. Fortunately I was able to work, staying busy as in workaholic, and engage in play with my Family.
    I was luck to have a great wife, who got real good at hand to hand combat over the past 42 years of marriage. However, she finally reached her threshold 9 years ago and encouraged me to seek help through our health Insurance.
    I began mental health therapy every week for nearly a year. The therapist recognized PTSD right away and suggested I seek help through the VA. After the experience in the early 70’s The VA became part of the problem psychologically, and I declined to attemt reopening a claim. After a few months of typical therapy my therapist we tried the rapid eye therapy with success. It was a way I could finally open up to the issues.

    I still attend therapy every other month, and the dreams visit less frequently. I stopped all alcohol a have been sober for 9 years. It is a journey I will likely travel the remainder of my life and was accepted as a service connected disability by the VA. I still “choose” to seek help for this outside of the VA since you really need to trust who treats you, which I do.

    Being a test pilot for the rapid eye movement was a life saver for me. 9 more years of alcohol would most likely have killed me. Chucher

  17. george mc grath August 1, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    I have mst-ptsd and have yet to be treated for this disorder. Any suggesions?

    • Robert August 2, 2011 at 12:39 am

      Me too. I have tried the cocktail of pills, BAY PINES Fl, several psychologists and psychiatrists and all to no avail. Hell, I was better off before I went and did the 6 week and 3 day stent at Bay Pines! One of the above comments said to stay busy. My hell started when I quit being a work-a-holic and went back to school! Granted, I have many other health issues now, but as long as I am going hard at work (until I have to stop for the day or days), I am fine – than those thoughts creep back in. Ho-Hum. I DO prefer to talk about it with women docs – just puts me more at ease (like I am not being judged by them). I wish I had the answers for you. I will say this, IF you find any answers, please contact me at ? Thanks.

  18. Dr. A. J. Popky August 1, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    I have been treating Vets for over 20 years. The methodology I use is EMDR and it is extremely effective.Presently I train and consult to therapists at military bases worldwide. They, in fact report excellent results. The AMEDD program is presently researching 3 methods for PTSD treatment. EMDR, DBT, & PE. From what I hear EMDR has the best results. By the way EMDR has proven research. Go to EMDR.COM or EMDRHAP.ORG, OR EMDRIA.ORG. for additional information.

  19. SheepdogRD August 1, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    I was in Vietnam in 1969 and 1970, and was diagnosed with PTSD in 1992. I started treatment at a Vet Center immediately after the diagnosis. I got weekly individual therapy for a few months; then they added bi-weekly group therapy, then weekly group therapy, and finally, as I got a handle on things, I shifted to weekly group therapy with supplemental individual therapy as I felt the need.

    I stayed in therapy there for 17 years. The Vet Center didn’t save my life; it gave me the guidance I needed to save my own life. It was hard, sometimes, but I’d found brothers I trusted, and I never felt like I was alone in the work. Once I started opening up and talking, I noticed I felt a bit lighter each session, and it was as if someone was gradually turning the lights back up to normal. Over the years, I learned coping techniques. I’ll never be who I was before Vietnam, but that’s okay now. I like the man I’ve rediscovered in me.

    I learned so much at the Vet Center that it sometimes amazes me. I know this: every one of us is different, and they have to “try” stuff on us to see what works. The best thing you can do for yourself is to find a counselor you’re comfortable with, and let them guide you. No one magically has your answers, because no one knows you. The best they can do is offer techniques that have worked on others, even if what works looks like “junk science” to some.

    Ignore the anger-mongers who tell you it’s all lousy, all ineffective, all “junk science”, all politics. That’s just their frustration coming out. Give things a chance to work. Question why they’re doing what they’re doing. Be an active participant in your therapy, and follow the suggestions you get. If you give one thing a chance and it doesn’t seem to work, ask to change to something else, but, please, give the treatments a chance, and go in with an open mind and a hopeful spirit.

    It’s all in your attitude: if you go in convinced that you can’t be helped, you’ll be right. If you go in convinced you CAN be helped, you’ll be right.

    Prepare yourself — this is gonna hurt. Stuff that was buried comes up, and it may not be easy to relive. But it gets softer each time it comes up, and eventually the stuff that comes up is just history, not horror. But you have to give it a chance to soften.

    Just keep trying. You’re a warrior, and you’ve done incredibly hard stuff, and dragged yourself through tests that mere mortals can’t pass. You’re still here. You’re a wounded warrior, but you’re still a warrior, and the spirit that took you through the hard stuff before will carry you through the hard stuff of healing.

    Give it a chance, and, more than anything else, keep trying. You’re worth it.

  20. John Bartholomew August 1, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    Marijuana REALLY helps without all the negative side effects of prescription drugs that you can get addicted to and can actually kill you. Legalize MJ for VETS NOW!

  21. Don Armstrong August 1, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    EMDR has been around for years and has proven effect “BUT” it will only work if you fully and completely remember the event as it happened. The drive behind it is that the mind took in to big a chunk of info never blinking and can’t process it. Via EMDR you start blinking as you relive the event and by breaking it up into smaller pieces of info you can “live” with.

    In 1991 I went in for a 28 day PTSD treatment program at the Salem Virginia VAMC and it is the best thing I ever did for myself. Their program was more like “Outward Bound” and created a comfortable team and group spirit. After two weeks we did revivication of several individuals life and incidence. I had a break through at that time and got back the ability to cry and have emotions. I do not take a pile of meds to get me by. I had several panic attacks and talked myself through it by recognizing that feeling was the same that I would get when caught in mortar attacks. I told myself there was no mortar attacks and calmed myself down. When it came to the nightmares of Vietnam I keep a recorder by my bed and if I wake up from the dreams or flashbacks I immediately repeat into the recorder everything before I forget it. The end result is eventually I could remember everything and after awhile the start of the dreams no longer bothered me. Then as time went by the dreams did not come back and I not have it wake me up.

    Many other VAMC locations have different forms of therapy including places that do immersion treatment which bombards you with war movies and sounds but for someone like myself “It don’t mean nothing”. The treatment that I had at Salem was in my estimation the best thing I did for myself but that does not mean my PTSD is gone. Just this past weekend I was at a military vehicle show and stopped and then walked in back of one WW II jeep that had a 30cal mounted on the side because “Never walk in front of a Cobra Gunship or a Heavy Hog gunship because you never know what is loaded. ” Several years ago I was walking on a bike trail on Cape Cod and off in the distance I could see a Vietnamese woman picking berries. I laughed and said to myself “Mamasan is picking berries”. I glanced away and then looked up and she was gone. In an instant the hair went up on the back of my neck and I heard myself saying “Gooks off the trail”. A few moment later she came up the other side of the trail and I calmed down and laughed about it.

  22. MadDogVAQ33 August 1, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    GARBAGE! Read the background of this mumbo-jumbo and you discover that the “developer” of this method has her degrees from non-accredited institutions (“University of Santa Barbara Under the Staircase”) and was a “Professor” at a “Wholistic University.”

    She “developed” this so-called “treatment” in the following manner: She was upset about a relationship and decided to take a walk in the park to calm down. While walking in the park, looking around, she discovered that (AMAZINGLY!) she became…wait for it…more calm! Therefore, in her fevered imagination, there was a link NOT between the naturally calming effect of walking in a park, but between flicking her eyes around and calming down.

    This so-called “treatment” is simply a psychological form of placebo pills in which the patient is told repeatedly that he/she WILL see an improvement and in the form of self-fulfilling prophecy, they do, at least for a period of time. There is NO proof that this “method” actually does anything more than generate revenue (multiple millions of dollars to date) by having gullible therapists attend “seminars” to “learn” this mumbo-jumbo.

    In case you are wondering, I have PTSD and Major Depressive Disorder, but I also have a 39-hour undergraduate Bachelor of Science in Psychology and graduate certification in administering the Wechsler Intelligence Scales and the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory…and I did Drug & Alcohol counseling in the Navy.

    This is “we don’t know how it works but we think it works” JUNK science at its worst. My VA Clinical Psychologist (PTSD Specialist) shares my assessment of this idiocy.

  23. GradyPhilpott August 1, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    The “chemical cocktail” has made my life livable for a long time. I’m not much into gimmicky treatments at this stage of the game. I just want to live out the rest of my days in relative peace.


    USMC 67-71
    RVN 68-69

  24. nomoptsd July 27, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    I like the poppy picture, heroin works good on PTSD. Oh, by the way, the VA can cure you of TPSD. NO COMPENSATION OR DISABILITY. It’s curable.

  25. RLM July 27, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    here we go agin with the VA Doc’s for PTSD. I started the class at the Atanlta VA a few months ago, I only went to 2 clases, after hearing that this class would you would no longer have PTSD, I asked how is that? They said once the class was over over that most people no longer have PTSD. I dont think so and I belive that this is something that anyone who has PTSD will have to learn how to live with it. I take taking all the meds they give us. I really dont think they know how to treat this. And now sense I have retired from the Army and have been going to the VA for the past year I was informed this week that my 3rd Doc. Is no longer working for the VA and that I have to go to another intact with a new Doc. Can’t they just read my chart, for me this is a waste of my time again, just when I start getting to be able to talk they send me to another Doc. Im 100% P&T and have being trying to get Voc rehab but they say sense I have a degree they want help me in any way, I have wrote an appeal but have not heard anything back either on this, I truely belive that they are there just to collect a check and they really dont care about the VET. at all

  26. Dirk Harkins July 27, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    I have started a non-profit organization in Hopedale,Ohio called The Purple Heart Palace, which is a fitness center with boxing,Self-defense,MMA,Zumba,weight room,cardio room,tanning beds and several cardio classes. I am having group gatherings for soldiers suffering from PTSD were we will be making quilts out of the road racing t-shirts i get when running and along with the others that runners donate. We are also having yoga classes for these men and women also. Whatever i can do to give back is how i seem to cope with PTSD and getting involved with community projects.Anyone out there who runs or knows anyone i would greatly appreciate if you would spread the word of this project and have them send t-shirts to me. I can be reached at or call me (740)491-1593.Thanks for your support.

  27. STEVE POSADAS July 27, 2011 at 7:18 am


    • Jon July 27, 2011 at 8:59 am

      Steve, Take off the caps lock my friend. And tell it to the Patient Advocate at your VAMC. Rants like this are what give veterans a bad name. There is a time and a place to air your concerns. Just not here.

  28. Warren Ponder July 26, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    Hello all,

    I am a social worker at a Vet Center and OIF combat infantryman. I have been trained in EMDR and find it very helpful for Vietnam to OIF/OEF vets. The problem is that it is abstract and researchers do not fully understand how it works, only that it does work! The other two gold star treatments for PTSD are cognitive processing therapy and prolonged exposure. Researchers understand the mechanisms that make those modalities work. However, EMDR is just as effective but not disseminated by the VA for the aforementioned reasons.

  29. Diane Craig July 26, 2011 at 11:09 am

    I think the suggestion above is just another positive way we can approach PTSD therapy. It does take a combination of things.Not anyone of them the magic remedy. Allow me still to suggest another one. I am a Telehealth RN with VA in Birmingham, Alabama.Our free program allows the veteran another way to connect with their provider and other veterans. We offer a free program with PTSD connecting with a device which connects to a home telephone line or Internet.We are only a few steps away from being able to connect with cell service as well. You have an RN who you can call and a quick connection to your mental health provider. You have only to request this service from your provider inquiring about HOME TELEHEALTH.I am honored and proud to take care of the men and women who have gone to battle for me. It’s our turn to help you. Please consider this as another approach for your health/PTSD.

  30. Johanna Leos, MAg, MBA, HTM July 26, 2011 at 8:53 am

    I serve our veterans as a clinical horticultural therapist, which helps patients cope with the symptoms of PTSD such as hypervigilance, isolation, substance abuse, anxiety, and loss of hope. Using our greenhouses and gardens as a clinic, I challenge my patients to reach therapeutic objectives that may be physical, cognitive, and psychosocial. Because of the broad range of abilities and the bond that is inherent among my group of veterans, a certain tenderness and understanding fosters positive and speedy outcomes. VA has at least 200 therapeutic gardening programs on the federal level, some led by registered horticultural therapists like myself. Rarely is there such a therapeutic intervention that can yield positive outcomes on the very first day. Horticultural therapy started as a profession in the United States (and in Europe) to help soldiers returning from World War I to recover from shell shock. And it continues to this very day.

    • Paul Dziadon July 27, 2011 at 11:11 am

      I am a disabled retired veteran. I have a 40% rating for PTSD and the only satisfaction enjoyment and pleasure I do get is in the yard, planting flowers, landscaping and I can spend hours without any thought of my monsters…. I really didnt think about it until I read your article and it clicked, this is the first I have heard of such a program. Is there anything in the Martinsburg area?

  31. Kevin July 26, 2011 at 8:01 am

    Well I have to say I’m still searching for a method that will work for me. I have tried exposure therapy and it was not a good fit for me. Since I have had major problems with getting out and if I do I feel very dizzy even coming to work which was an okay thing for me before exposure therapy. Any Ideas?

    • Roberto August 1, 2011 at 6:39 pm

      I tried booze (didn’t work) Tried the vet center but they wanted me to talk and I tried once and had a flashback. Lots of nightmares, the works including thinking about eating my pistol. I was lucky, I discovered writing. First only prose which I’ve kept a deep dark secret, but then poems and those I shared with other vets. Worked like a charm. It was my way of coping and you might try that. You don’t have to be a great author, but put your feelings down where you can see them on paper. Worked for me and it might just work for you.

    • Avg. Jane May 7, 2012 at 9:58 pm

      I too have PTSD. The things that have worked are Somatic Experiencing – which is NOT Exposure therapy. it is very gentle, you don’t have to talk about your trauma, but you do have to track your bodily sensations in a very mindful way. It is proven effective over seas with the Israeli Army. The other effective treatment is EMDR. both are more effective than pharmaceuticals and exposure therapy… if you want to talk about quakery – exposure therapys does more harm than good in my opinion.

      Make sure you mention your bouts of dizziness and difficulty getting out, that could literally be the first treatment goal with your SE or EMDR therapist.

      Wishing you wholeness and peace!

  32. ramos hector July 25, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    Hospital de veteranos de puerto rico estuve en terapias de PTSD y lo unico que ellos se preocupan es por escribir cosas que no afecten al sistema para que nosotros los veteranos no podamos hacer una boena reprecenracion .me sali de las terapias y ellos es cribieron lo que los beneficia a ellos no la razon por la cual abandone las terapias

  33. CRAIG MAYER July 25, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    I started out with help from the VA. My very first appointment was “here are you pills, take one a day and call back for a refill, anything else I can help you with here?” I didnt take the pills and walked out. I went to a civilian doc who worked with EMDR. It work, since then I have done yoga, and horse back riding. Alternative therapy is they way to go if you ask me! Much better for your body and soul.

  34. James Darrett July 25, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    I tried this but it did not help me out because of my MTBI, which caused my head to hurt so I had to stop this treatment.

  35. Manz July 25, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Please remove this picture ASAP, it is a picture of one of our beloved soilder walking through poppy field in Afghanistan

    • Jon July 25, 2011 at 4:23 pm

      Manz- What’s your point? Ever heard of freedom of the press? Aside from that, I don’t even understand why you’re asking to have it taken down.

    • Jon July 25, 2011 at 4:24 pm

      Oh, and that’s a Marine. Capital “M”.

  36. Freida Watson July 25, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    Not sure now why I opened this site..however the first thing I saw, like most of you was this aritcle and immediatley it captured my attn… I wish I could describe the inner turmoil I face daily…min 2 min… What I know is this, there are two very detrimental aspects of this disorder and those are: (and need to always be considered by your health care team), The event(s) and The treatment. Personally my treatment was an extention of the truama I was already suffering. In the VA hospitalize while on active duty…never to return back to duty, discharge, confuse and very deeply impacted by the Friendly torture and abuse …. way beyond toleration.. almost 10yrs later my entire youth and I am still trimbling while trying to type this …peace and love ..try and believe that GOD is a Healer

  37. John borek July 25, 2011 at 10:43 am

    After being in treatment for almost 11 years with the V.A. Group theropy and meds and keeping busy help the most. Half of my trama was sexual assult and torture by our own troops. Submarine live during the cold war was a hell unto itself with out the assults. It took years for me to get help because of the shame. I have a better live because of treatment not all the time. Learn to use the tools they give you every day to keep the monsters at bay. Thats better than the monsters eating you. I have a great helping me This I am very greatful. Keep on trying you’ll find a way.

  38. RICHIE G July 25, 2011 at 10:38 am





  39. david bier July 25, 2011 at 8:25 am

    I’ve been in EMDR therapy for some issues related to a non-military case of PTSD (near-fatal head-on car accident). It worked just fine – even though I initially thought it was kind of silly. For me at least, there was no sense of immediate relief, but certain issues just quit bothering me and have never re-appeared – 10 years later. If you’re suffering, or just feel like you’re wound up too tightly, I would certainly recommend it. I’m much more at ease now than I was then, and I’m not as easily ‘set off’ either.

  40. Dustin Hovan July 25, 2011 at 8:21 am

    I myself have also been on a million pills. They help with the panic attacks but desensitize me to the point that I dont ever feel like myself. I hope this new treatment works.

  41. AL D July 25, 2011 at 1:29 am

    I’ve been up now going on 4 days, the PTSD meds from VA was like plugging a super booster on that sent me to the edge more than once, I was lucky to have a Vietnam vet Counselor at the Vet Center and a great TRP MD at the VA giving one on one recovery help who were both honest and helpful in that they did not sugar coat it for me.. “The meds may not be able to fix you, but the VA’s job is to keep you alive and out of the hands of the police”. And four simple words of my Vet Center Counselor made it real for me and gave me back some power in my fight with PTSD… “Soldier, YOU NEED TO UN-F—*? YOURSELF! Last words i remember he saying to me before he died.. I have not been back since….. all the VA Meds and pills did not work for me may not work at all, yes stay busy, stay active, travel try Asia China, Philippines. There are a lot of us all over the world who have paid the cost. And when you can’t sleep at night take a walk, wal-mart is quiet place at 4am in the morning. Nothing is wrong if you don’t want to share your pain with anyone… and just trying to stay alive!
    God Speed…
    Al DPZ

  42. Dave Stewart July 24, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    I was first diagnosed with PTSD in 1991. Numerous counselors were of varying degrees of help. About two years ago I met a ex-va counselor who recommended EMDR to me. The process was difficult and took a long time but the results were better than anything else I tried. I manage my life better now than at any other time since leaving service. I highly recommend it.

  43. Amando Javier July 24, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    Electro Convulsive Therapy is another treatment modality that the VA can do for psychiatric illness. Referral for this type of treatment could be obtained from your psychiatrist.

  44. Mark Simmons July 24, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    I take my meds every day, but at different times and with and without foood, which is the biggest problem for me in taking them. They seem to work well and without them is a different and harder to even remember to shave or take showers. Tried smoking hydro too, works well but not recommended by VA Physicians. Take your medications is best advice.

  45. Joe Average Vet July 24, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    Obviously, using service men as “guinea pigs” continues well after we exit the military. Instead of well thought out planning and research, the VA utilizes the “trial and error” method, where some Vets make it and others dont.
    It looks like the VA does their “planning” in about the same manor as congress “plans” the budget…..they wait until the place is on fire, and then they think maybe “next time” they will train individuals to prevent and fight fires. This is not the caliber of leadership I voted for.

    • Jon July 25, 2011 at 10:20 am

      Joe, it seems that you might be misinformed. The VA “vets” their treatment options to a high standard from what I know (IE, there already has to be proven research for it to be introduced). However, testing is difficult because it is hard to find large study groups of PTSD sufferrers in any other demographic. I, for one, as a vet with PTSD, welcome almost any new form of treatment, and am willing to give it a try, other than more pills. Apparently, you do not understand the the desparation of those who endure PTSD, as many will welcome anything that may help them. Real PTSD sufferers do not view themselves as “guinea pigs”, but as willing subjects trying to get help.

    • Johnsie July 25, 2011 at 12:29 pm

      @Joe Average Vet. What exactly is it you think research and planning consists of? How else do you expect the VA to learn whether or not this treatment is going to produce results. And lets be honest…would you rather the VA experimented with new, untested drugs on us veterans? In a very real sense, “trial and error” is very similar, if not identical to “planning and research”. It seems you have more of an axe to grind with the government overall rather than with this new treatment option. And just so we’re clear, I am an Iraq war vet, Sadr City, Baghdad, 2007-2009, and this EMDR therapy is actually in use by many CIVILIAN therapists today. Had I not recently relocated across the country, I would have been undergoing routine treatments with a CIVILIAN doctor for the last month and a half. If you’re a vet who’s been diagnosed with PTSD, you should know that pills aren’t the answer and for many of us, one-on-one therapy simply doesn’t cut it. There is a bunch of information out there about EMDR and it’s benefits. You should try doing some of your own research and planning before coming on here and bashing the VA and the government.

    • HelpIsBetter July 25, 2011 at 3:19 pm

      Joe Average Vet. You seem to be angry at the world and any treatment in general. I suggest you seek help. Now that is said, the doctors in the VA are not the same doctors you will see in the private sector. The doctors in the VA do not receive kickbacks from the big pharmaceutical companies. If they do, they can end up in Jail. Vets in the VA are not seen as “guinea pigs”. Vets in the VA are seen as what they are, men and women that put their lives in the line for this country. Like other said here, it is very hard to get enough research done with the PTSD base in the USA. Someone has to do the research on someone. Animals can’t be used for PTSD research for a number of reasons. Research is not done on unsuspecting veterans. Research is done with volunteers that know what is at stake. They also know that when the meds are good, they are helping those men and women that help us keep America free.

  46. Robert Loera July 24, 2011 at 2:07 am

    I tried the exposure therapy two years after from returning from Iraq in 05′. To been honest , it drove me to a suicide attemp. It didn’t work for me at all and the only thing that does seem to have any effect at all is staying busy anyway I can, medication. and one on one therapy.

    Thank you

    SGT RL

  47. MJ July 23, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    I use a pill regimen along with various types of cognitive therapy (Like meditation, biofeedback, listening to music… etc) Where my biggest draw backs arrive is not only dealing with the past of war; but I also try to maintain a level of existence along with the ambiguous symptoms from various types of chemical exposures (ie… chronic severe pain, skin rashes, sexual performance problems, blackouts with blurred vision and dizziness, etc…). I know these symptoms are NOT due to the medication regiments I have been on in the last two decades… I have more then experienced these ambiguous symptoms before I left country to return home.
    Thank You…

  48. thomas gracious July 23, 2011 at 10:13 am


    • Joe Average Vet July 24, 2011 at 3:53 pm

      VA physicians are prohibited from prescribing anything that says “natural” on the bottle, as this is a very big insult to the pharmaceutical companies who have spent millions on getting their preferred candidate in office.
      Instead, PTSD Vets are given a “chemical cocktail” with no one really knowing what the outcome will be, except the Veteran, who can be assured the “person who is from the government who is here to help him”….isnt.

  49. thomas gracious July 23, 2011 at 10:10 am

    I already take a lot of pills,if possible I feel this treatment would be more effective AND elimate another pill AND save the VA another expense,a win win for all,I strongly beleive in natural ways of healing,if I could I would love to elminate pills as much as possible,my ptsd seems to surface later,like now,in the later years of life and any help, like this would certainly be excellant healing way.

    • Bob July 24, 2011 at 10:38 am

      Used to treat PTSD after WWII… Best $2 you will ever spend, 17 copies on Amazon… Have used for years, is effective…

    • Adam Summerhill August 2, 2011 at 1:18 am

      Universit of Sweden has used MDMA otherwise known as Ecstacy, it has an 85% over time rate, meaning it lasts 85% of the time, but unfortunately it is a schedule II drug in the US, so good luck..

      Valium and pot is the only thing that has worked for me, I have had plenty of psychotropic ding biscuits, I realized these guys are quacks!!! ~smiles~.

      I just exercise, lift weights, backpack, being active has seemed to help, as much as I don’t like it sometimes psychotherapy helps too, but it is always there ~sighs~

      • James August 8, 2011 at 7:37 pm

        The only thing that works for me is street drugs like heroin marijuana and crystal meth but since there not legal I’m having a hard time living with a drug free society I’ve been in all kinds of VA treatments and nothing works I’m sick of this place.I came back from Iraq in 2004 I lost my wife and kids and wittnessessd my dad shot to death andmy little brother wounded in his spine now I’m supporting my mom 2 brothers and when my wife and four kids were around I supported them to I wake up hating everything until I medicate myself any advice

        • Alex Horton August 9, 2011 at 11:17 am

          Hey James, sounds like you had a rough time after redeploying. I’m a bit concerned about how you’re dealing with issues. You said you’ve been in treatment, but what kind? Any of these?

          -short outpatient counseling including focus on motivation
          – intensive outpatient treatment
          – residential (live-in) care
          – medically managed detoxification (stopping substance use safely) and services to get stable
          – continuing care and relapse prevention
          – marriage and family counseling
          – self-help groups
          – drug substitution therapies and newer medicines to reduce craving

          It’s tough out there for combat vets like us, but turning to drugs will seriously mess you up. Don’t think you want your kids to deal with the effects either.

    • Leona December 4, 2011 at 3:54 pm

      I was fortunate enough to have received EMDR treatment as a US Navy wife. I have been diagnosed with PTSD. Years of talk therapy with psychologists, psychologists, counsellors and medication alone did little to get to the root of my problems. When I first heard of this treatment it sounded to good to be true, and to be quite honest I was sceptical. But I had to try – what did I have to lose?!! The first few seconds were ackward, but the trained counsellor (who has experienced the treatment as well), could tell I was “trying too hard” to make/let it work. She guided me through to focus on the bar of lights and alternating tones I could hear through my headset. Within seconds it flowed and I didn’t have to do a thing. The best way I could describe the treatment would be to equate it to riding on a train, looking out the window. “Scenes” pass through your mind/memory. Scenes of something that had disturbed or upset, that I had subconsciously buried (I believe this was the only way I could cope with it at the time). But the scenes played out and I felt as I did back in that moment in time. Now you know in your heart that the thought of experiencing the trauma again (or the feelings attached to it) is a horrifying thought. But be assured that the only scenes that passed were ones my memory/brain were ready to release. The therapist reassured me of this. Now the therapy I had was on a 3 minute session per “scene”. Many of the scenes I was able to process within that 3 minute timespan, but one in particular, I was “stuck” in and couldn’t stop crying. I literally, could not stop crying. I was hysterical and the 3 minutes was coming to an end. When this happens the therapist stops the light and tones and had me focus on the present. She directed me to look out the window and make note of all the details I could see. She had me think of my children, my husband, everything that was in the “present”. I calmed down and those feelings of hysteria disappeared. She let me catch my breath and when she started the lights and tones again, that same scene returned. But it did not last. I was able to live through that time and the feelings once again, and I became calm and peaceful. Trying to describe the treatment is very difficult. When we were finished with my first session, my therapist asked “how was that?” All I could say was “What a Trip!!!!”. She had a knowing smile on her face. She knew what I meant and confided in me that when a therapist is trained in EMDR, they were required to experience the treatment themselves…

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