It is estimated that about 7.8% of Americans will suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder at some point in their lives. Although finding one specific treatment that will help every survivor of trauma manage their symptoms is impossible, it is important for health care professionals to explore as many different treatment plans as possible to assist the ever increasing number of people with PTSD. Our team of Regen Quest professionals believe that hyperbaric oxygen therapy can help those suffering from PTSD.
What is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder, also referred to as PTSD, is a psychiatric disorder commonly found in people who have experienced traumatic events. While the original traumatic event varies from person to person, most common experiences include military combat, sexual or physical assault, serious accidents and witnessing or experiencing natural disasters. Although survivors of traumatic events experience different symptoms, PTSD usually involves flashbacks, nightmares, depression and isolation, and sometimes even significant impairment of everyday life.
PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injuries
In recent years a debate has been on going within the medical community, surrounding the correlation between traumatic brain injury (TBI) and PTSD, particularly in regard to returning war veterans. Traumatic brain injuries occur when the brain itself is physically damaged, and often require neurological care. Due to the increased use of exploding devices such as bombs and mortars in recent wars, many returning soldiers experience some form of TBI, usually in the form of mild traumatic injury or mTBI.
Many returning military personnel with mild TBI also experience post-traumatic stress and are often prescribed psychiatric drugs such as anti-depressants. However, a 2013 study by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) found that an average of 22 American veterans die by suicide every day. This sparked a debate around the efficacy of psychiatric drugs to treat military patients with PTSD, and the potential impact TBI has on mental wellbeing. While antidepressants may treat the psychiatric symptoms of a traumatic brain injury, they do nothing to heal the brain itself.
The Inflamed and Suffocating Injured Brain
When your body is injured, it uses a significant amount of energy to heal itself. In order to generate energy, your body requires oxygen. Thus, a traumatically injured brain requires extra oxygen in order to fully heal itself. However, one of the secondary side effects of a TBI is known as hypoxia, a condition that is caused by a lack of oxygen. Once an injured brain becomes hypoxic, it can start to become inflamed and struggle to heal itself.
Some medical professionals believe that patients with an inflamed, hypoxic brain as a result of a traumatic brain injury may experience increased symptoms of post-traumatic stress.
How Can HBOT Improve TBI and PTSD?
At its core, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is the use of 100% pure oxygen in a pressurized environment to accelerate the body’s ability to heal itself. By saturating the body, including the brain, with oxygen, HBOT decreases swelling and inflammation, and promotes blood flow to the damaged area.
Studies conducted on veterans with mild TBI showed a decrease in suicidal ideation and symptoms of PTSD after HBOT treatments.
Today, the VA does not offer HBOT treatments to veterans suffering from PTSD. At RegenQuest, we want anyone suffering from symptoms of PTSD to be able to experience the benefits of hyperbaric oxygen therapy.