Impact of Complementary Therapy on PTSD Symptoms

Allison Buckner and Natalie Gaber, Carroll College

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition individuals of any age may develop after exposure to one or multiple threatening events; such events may include experiences of war, witnessing a violent death, sexual or physical violence, a natural disaster, or car crash. (PTSD: National, 2020). Within the U.S., approximately 8 million adults have PTSD within a given year (PTSD: National, 2020). Those who suffer from PTSD may experience symptoms including anxiety, hallucinations, depression, avoidance, suicidal ideation, flashbacks, sleep disturbance and substance abuse to name a few. In conjunction with pharmacologic treatment, many studies have explored the therapeutic benefits of complementary therapy on the symptoms of PTSD. Complementary therapy, non-mainstream, non-pharmacological health practices used in combination with conventional western medicine, includes a variety of alternative treatments including the use of: herbs, vitamins and minerals, breathing techniques, yoga, meditation, massage, acupuncture, chiropractics, relaxation, recreational therapy, exposure therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) or self-expression therapy to name a few (Complementary, 2018). Including complementary therapies within one’s treatment regimen is intended to holistically enhance the patient’s overall well being and quality of life. The purpose of this evidence-based practice brief is to explore the effect of complementary therapy on patients with PTSD symptoms. Through reliable literature and research, the information included in this summary analysis will help nurses and other health care professionals in encouraging, providing, explaining the effects of complementary therapies for patients with PTSD.

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