Wynn, who is assistant chair, Department of Psychiatry at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and a scientist at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, spoke today, at the Psychological Health and Resilience Summit at Defense Health Headquarters, Falls Church, Virginia. His topic was "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder."
A survey of some 400 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans revealed that "by session eight, 70 percent were out the door," he said, adding that treatments typically take about 12 sessions. "They won't see the benefits if they don't stay."
Staying in treatment is "even more important than what kind of treatment you give them," he added.
Another word of advice from the doc: therapy "works better when you do it together with a partner." When patients stay in treatment, the healthful benefits have been shown to be longer lasting than those who skip out, and partnering with someone in treatment adds to the effectiveness.
Some alternative therapies to try:
Think herbal remedies, mind and body "hands-on stuff," he said.
Do they work?
Some of them do, "but we're really not sure why," he admitted.
It's hard to get clinical trials with limited research dollars, he said. It's also hard to measure and track.
For instance, some have found Brazilian Jujitsu Therapy to be effective, Wynn said. But, just what types of moves and how many moves are needed for it to work are just two of many variables that would need to be controlled for, he said.
Aroma Therapy is another. It's effective in some "but we're not sure why." Homeopathy can be effective but it too is hard to test, he said.
So far, there have been very few studies on non-traditional treatments, he said.
However, that doesn't mean they should all be rejected out of hand. Again, more will be learned in time, he predicted.
Wynn himself said he advocates some of these non-traditional approaches. "Virtual reality is probably the most robust and very compelling" and as a bonus, more patients stay in treatment.
Besides Virtual Reality Therapy, Wynn said he often suggests yoga. "It definitely does no harm, but we're not sure of its specific mechanisms of helping." It seems to work though.
Acupuncture seems effective as well, he said, as is Art Therapy.