Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Bridges East and West In Pioneering Treatment Research

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a frightening and debilitating condition that can affect any segment of the population from a rape victim to a natural disaster survivor to a physical abuse sufferer to a combat veteran.

An estimated 7.8 percent of Americans experience PTSD at some point in their lives, potentially leading to alcohol abuse, depression, chemical dependence, conduct disorders and sleep abnormalities. Additionally, many PTSD sufferers experience relationship, employment and criminal problems.

Traditionally, PTSD is treated with a variety of forms of psychotherapy and medicationdrug therapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy, but there is no definitive treatment or cure. However, there are very specific chemical and neurological responses to the disorder that disrupt normal physiological functions.

New, pioneering research introducing acupuncture as a potential treatment alternative for PTSD is yielding promising - albeit preliminary - results, according to Dr. Michael Hollifield, principle investigator for the Trauma and Anxiety Research Group (TARG) at the University of New Mexico's Health Sciences Center (HSC).

"To date, our research supports using acupuncture for treating PTSD symptoms, including insomnia, anxiety and depression, in addition to some pain disorders," Hollifield asserts. "It may do so by stimulating the body's internal endogenous opiate system, though much more research on this issue is needed."

This groundbreaking study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Division, is still actively seeking people with PTSD to further evaluate the efficacy of acupuncture in treating PTSD compared to cognitive behavioral therapy., TARG also wantsas well as expanding the study to combine acupuncture with cognitive behavioral therapy, possibly integrating Eastern and Western medicine for a treatment protocol with optimal results for PTSD sufferers.

Dr. Hollifield is joined in the study by acupuncturist and co-investigator Nityamo Lian, DOM, as well as co-investigator Teddy Warner, Ph.D. For more information, contact James Ruiz, research coordinator for TARG, Department of Psychiatry, at 505/272-4911.

The University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center provides added value to health care through leadership in providing innovative, collaborative education; advancing frontiers of science through research critical to the future of health care; delivering health care services that are at the forefront of science; and facilitating partnerships with public and private biomedical and health enterprises.  For more information on the UNM Health Sciences Center visit .


"UNM. Great People Doing Great Things."

Contact: HSC Public Affairs, 272-3322

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