By Kennedy Shelley
A novel approach to the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) has combined the powers of fear reducing pharmaceuticals with talk therapy.
The hope is that by reducing anxiety, patients are able to confront the issues that cause many of them to get stuck in negative mental loops.
Nearly half of all Americans will be exposed to some traumatic event that is significantly beyond daily stressors.
These involve violent assaults, sexual assaults, violence, and disasters. Not everyone develops PTSD from these events.
Those that do find their mood and sleep suffer. The event begins to define them hurting their important relationships.
According to the US Center for Disease Control (CDC), about 3.6% suffer from PTSD.
About one-third of sufferers have severe impairment from PTSD.
It affects the ability of nearly 3.2 million Americans to live their lives and do their jobs.
Prolonged Exposure therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment for dealing with PTSD.
Once sufferers are able to break through their memories and deal with the issues, they are able to heal.
But there are often mental barriers to deal with the memories.
In order to protect ourselves we often cover up traumas and as a result, we don’t really process them like we do other emotions and instead get stuck.
In other words, our fears of dealing with these issues stop us from dealing with it. That’s why Prolonged Exposure therapy doesn’t work for everyone.
Now there is a new trial where doctors are using fear reducing medicines to help the PTSD sufferers break through their own mental barriers.
This is happening as Johns Hopkins University is working with so-called psychedelic medications to help people suffering from terminal diseases as well as PTSD to overcome these mental blocks.
In this case, the drug works on the endocannabinoid system to control fear.
Basically, this is the same cannabis system everyone has to control fear, stress, and anxiety.
This drug blocks fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) enzyme and increases anandamide.
It was initially tested with the hope that it would reduce pain without the use of opioids, but it turns out that it was much better at reducing anxiety.
The study was announced in the journal Biological Psychiatry. The Swedish research team is very hopeful that this will help PTSD.
“We have used a medication that blocks the way the body breaks down its own cannabis-like substances, or ‘endocannabinoids’. Our study shows that this class of medications, called FAAH inhibitors, may offer a new way to treat PTSD and perhaps also other stress-related psychiatric conditions. The next important step will be to see if this type of medication works in patients, particularly those with PTSD”, says Leah Mayo, a lead researcher in the study.
The FAAH inhibitors show great promise in helping the body use its own anti-anxiety centers in the brain to help the mind heal itself from damaging trauma.
The study was randomized, double-blind and controlled which means it is more likely to become an approved treatment option.