By: Jadon Webb, M.D., Ph.D.
Getting safe, effective help after a traumatic experience can be difficult. Trauma can cause many different symptoms, including insomnia, nightmares, severe depression, generalized anxiety, panic attacks, and of course post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Psychotherapy and prescribed medications can be very helpful. In severe or treatment resistant cases, ketamine can also be helpful. Meantime, most of us would prefer the least invasive, most “natural” way of addressing these symptoms.
One of the challenges in treating trauma is helping the brain to re-frame bad memories as being less threatening. Research is underway to figure out how to help the brain “re-learn” to remember a safer version of the past event so that it does not continue to haunt the patient. Ketamine can help facilitate this neural rewiring process, and can be a very helpful way to boost the effectiveness of trauma therapy.
It also turns out that a simple puzzle game, Tetris™, can help speed the healing of intrusive traumatic memories during therapy. In a 2018 study, patients who had just been in an auto accident were randomized to usual talk based trauma therapy, with half of patients also playing Tetris™ for 20 minutes during the session. The patients who played the game had fewer intrusive memories about the event.
Simply playing a game reduced distressing memories from a trauma. This is truly amazing! We can’t wait to see how this safe, affordable, “natural” idea can be used to help people recover from the serious symptoms of trauma.
9/14/2022 11:34:07 pm
I appreciate that you explained how psychotherapy and medications can actually be helpful such as using ketamine for severe cases. I will share this information with my sister whose husband already needs trauma therapy and other interventions after being in a situation wherein he is engulfed in alcohol. From my sister's stories, it seems that her husband had this issue and has been triggered again after a gun incident happened near their area.
12/6/2022 06:01:06 am
It's great to know that there is research on the way regarding the brain's capability of retaining memory the safer way, especially regarding traumatic events. I hope that trauma treatments like those will be available for my sister, because I think she already needs them. She has been in a toxic relationship for years which is why it has affected her even if she is already free from her past partner now.
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about the authorS
Jadon Webb, M.D., Ph.D.
Bloom Mental Health
Disclaimer: this blog is NOT intended as medical advice and does not imply any kind of specific guidance or treatment recommendations, and should NOT be used to guide a treatment protocol. (read full disclaimer)
DNP, MSN, FNP-BC
Family Nurse Practitioner