As the war in Iraq continues, more people are entering VA hospitals and other treatment centers with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This has led to an increasing demand for innovative treatment methods, since not all people respond to the current lot of medications and psychotherapy. The APA newswire picked up a story about a variety of other techniques being employed in limited amounts current, with a highlight on music and virtual reality.
Sleep becomes difficult when veterans feel they cannot physically relax and be safe, increasing the PTSD sufferer’s “profound sense of isolation,” he said. Lynch and his colleagues describe some issues for PTSD-affected vets and their families in a new booklet at McGuire.
Some of Lynch’s patients listen to a 33-minute compact disc when they go to sleep. The patient hears Lynch describing relaxation exercises while anxiety-reducing music plays in the background. The use of this music has been studied in pain management and as an aid in the healing process.
Fred Cohen, formerly of the University of Richmond, composed the music specifically to accompany Lynch’s script.
“It’s not often a concert composer can boast of writing a piece with the express purpose of putting the audience to sleep, over and over again,” said Cohen, now at Columbus State University in Georgia.
Cohen said his composition had to avoid familiar sounds that would bring the listener out of the trancelike state the music intends. The music’s tempo, which serves as a kind of pulse, gradually and intentionally slows to calm the listener. “I had never done anything like this before,” he said.
To me, one of the most notable parts of PTSD from a war situation is how the person learns some new adaptive strategies to survive in the war, and the adjustment back home makes those exact same techniques liabilities for the person’s overall health. Furthermore, I’ve always found it interesting how world events can shape and create demand for innovations in mental health treatment.