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Tucson VA battles PTSD with intense therapy, alternative treatments

June is PTSD Awareness Month
Posted at 9:02 PM, Jun 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-07 01:35:56-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — Horrific images and experiences from the world of combat can leave some veterans with post traumatic stress disorder.

Sandra Gallagher and Aubrey Rodriguez are PTSD psychologists at the Tucson VA. They say they're seeing more people being diagnosed with PTSD, but there's still room for improvement.

"There's still a lot of stigma around mental health diagnosis and around mental health treatment," Gallagher said. "And a lot of misunderstanding about it as well."

The VA offers several different types of treatment for PTSD -- from outpatient to residential options.

Gallagher and Rodriguez say they're also seeing veterans benefit from alternative approaches, such as yoga and meditation.

"The therapies are very focused, they're very short term, and they're very sort of intensive, but for shorter periods of time," Gallagher said. "So, eight, 10, 12 weeks."

"They do work, and they are work," Rodriguez said.

The residential treatment program started two years ago.

It's intense -- for two months, patients get four to five hours of therapy each day.

Rodriguez says it's working. Since the start, 60 percent of veterans no longer had impairing PTSD symptoms after the treatment.

"For the most part, successful treatment means you leave here knowing you can do it," Rodriguez said. "Because you just did it."

Read this for more information about how common PTSD is in veterans.