Of Dogs and Trauma Victims

nancy_in_venice_ca Sunset 24 z10November 27, 2012

In the last few days I've come across two articles dealing with PTSD - one re humans, and the other re canines. Since so many returning vets from Afganistan (and Iraq) are suffering from PTSD, I hope the VA follows up on the Mithoefer's study.

A 'Party Drug' May Help the Brain Cope With Trauma Hundreds of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with post-traumatic stress have recently contacted a husband-and-wife team who work in suburban South Carolina to seek help. Many are desperate, pleading for treatment and willing to travel to get it...

They are lining up to try an alternative: MDMA, better known as Ecstasy, a party drug that surfaced in the 1980s and '90s that can induce pulses of euphoria and a radiating affection. Government regulators criminalized the drug in 1985, placing it on a list of prohibited substances that includes heroin and LSD. But in recent years, regulators have licensed a small number of labs to produce MDMA for research purposes...

In a paper posted online Tuesday by the Journal of Psychopharmacology, Michael and Ann Mithoefer, the husband-and-wife team offering the treatment -- which combines psychotherapy with a dose of MDMA -- write that they found 15 of 21 people who recovered from severe post-traumatic stress in the therapy in the early 2000s reported minor to virtually no symptoms today. Many said they have received other kinds of therapy since then, but not with MDMA...

The Mithoefers administer the MDMA in two doses over one long therapy session, which comes after a series of weekly nondrug sessions to prepare. Three to five weeks later, they perform another drug-assisted session; and again, patients engage in 90-minute nondrug therapy before and after, once each week.

Most have found that their score on a standard measure of symptoms -- general anxiety, hyperarousal, depression, nightmares -- drops by about 75 percent. That is more than twice the relief experienced by people who get psychotherapy without MDMA, the Mithoefers said.

The dogs seem to be recovering without medication: Military's dogs of war also suffer post-traumatic stress disorder LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Not long after a Belgian Malinois named Cora went off to war, she earned a reputation for sniffing out the buried bombs that were the enemy's weapon of choice to kill or maim U.S. troops.

Cora could roam a hundred yards or more off her leash, detect an explosive and then lie down gently to signal danger... But after months in Iraq and dozens of combat patrols, Cora changed. The transformation was not the result of one traumatic moment, but possibly the accumulation of stress and uncertainty brought on by the sharp sounds, high emotion and ever-present death in a war zone...

When Cora returned to the U.S. two years ago, there was not a term for the condition that had undercut her combat effectiveness and shattered her nerves. Now there is: canine post-traumatic stress disorder...

There are no official statistics, but Burghardt estimates that half of the dogs that return with PTSD or other behavioral hitches can be retrained for "useful employment" with the military or law enforcement, such as police departments, the Border Patrol or the Homeland Security Department.

The others dogs are retired and made eligible for adoption as family pets.

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tobr24u(z6 RI)

But would dogs respond the same way as humans? Their brains are not as developed as ours...

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 5:15AM
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"When it comes to the health and well-being of those who serve, we should leave our politics at the door and not be afraid to follow the data," said Brig. Gen. Loree Sutton, a psychiatrist who recently retired from the Army."

Very interesting, Nancy. Sounds like the researchers are on to something. Thanks for posting.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 7:21AM
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Very very interesting. Looking forward to the Charlie Rose brain episode on PTSD.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 7:47AM
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Solving PTSD, in the military or in civilian life? Wow, that'd be so wonderful! What strides could be made! It'd be fantastic in so many applications. Wonder if it could be extended, in lesser doses, to children? There are so many that need that kind of help so as to live a productive and happy life after childhood traumas. That's who I'd help after the study was proven.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 8:11AM
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Highly interesting... no pun intended. I'm very glad that work is being done toward such positive ends. Thanks, Nancy.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 11:24AM
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Circus Peanut

PS: oh yes, and of course good for the doggies, too! :-)

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 11:30AM
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