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Researchers report first findings of virtual reality exposure therapy for veterans with PTSD

A randomized controlled clinical trial of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) found that shorter doses of virtual reality exposure therapy (VRE) reduces PTSD diagnoses and symptoms. The study was published in the April 18, 2014 online edition of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Researchers at Emory University conducted the study with 156 veterans with combat-related PTSD. After an introductory session, each veteran was randomly assigned to receive d-cycloserine (DCS) (53 subjects), alprazolam (50 subjects), or a placebo (53 subjects) before each of five sessions of VRE.

The study found PTSD symptoms significantly improved from pre- to post-treatment with the VRE therapy and the DCS may enhance the VRE results for those veterans who demonstrated better emotional learning in sessions. In addition to self-reported symptoms, researchers used objective measures of cortisol, a stress hormone, and the startle response, and found reductions in reactivity after treatment. Alprazolam, known more commonly as Xanax, impaired recovery from symptoms.

"D-cycloserine, combined with only five sessions of the virtual reality exposure therapy, was associated with significant improvements in objective measures of startle and cortisol and overall PTSD symptoms for those who showed emotional learning in sessions," says lead researcher Barbara Rothbaum, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University School of Medicine and director of the Trauma and Anxiety Recovery Program.

The double-blind, placebo-controlled study consisted of an initial screening assessment, six treatment visits, and follow-up assessments at three, six and 12 months post-treatment. The virtual reality exposure therapy involved 30-45 minutes of exposure to virtual environments on a head mounted video display that attempt to match stimuli described by the veteran. Scenes depict a variety of Iraq and Afghanistan environments, including street scenes and neighborhoods, as well as from different points of view, i.e. as a driver, passenger, or walking on foot. Thirty minutes before each session, participants took a single pill.

"We were very excited to see the substantial gains in self-reported and objective indices of PTSD with only five sessions of the virtual reality exposure therapy combined," says Rothbaum.

Coping with Flashbacks:

1. Tell yourself that you are having a flashback, and that you are safe now.

2. Remind yourself that the worst is over. The feelings and sensations you are experiencing are memories of the past. The actual event has already occurred and you survived.

3. Breathe. When we get scared we stop breathing normally. As a result, our body begins to panic from the lack of oxygen, which in itself causes a great deal of panic feelings; pounding in the head, tightness, sweating, feeling faint, shakiness, and dizziness. When we breathe deeply enough, the panic feeling can decrease. Breathing deeply means breathing in so that your diaphragm expands. If you were to put your hand on your stomach, your stomach would push against your hand when you inhale.

4. Get grounded. This means stamping your feet on the ground to remind yourself that you have feet and can get away now if you need to. (There may have been times before when you could not get away, now you can.) Being aware of all five senses can also help you ground yourself.

5. Reorient to the present. Begin to use your five senses in the present. Look around and see the colours in the room, the shapes of things, the people near, etc. Listen to the sounds in the room: your breathing, traffic, birds, people, cars, etc. Feel your body and what is touching it: your clothes, your own arms and hands, the chair, or the floor supporting you.

6. Get in touch with your need for boundaries. Sometimes when we are having a flashback we lose the sense of where we leave off and the world begins, as if we do not have skin. Wrap yourself in a blanket, hold a pillow or stuffed animal, go to bed, sit in a closet, any way that you can feel yourself truly protected from the outside.

7. Get support. Depending on your situation you may need to be alone or may want someone near you. In either case it is important that your close ones know about flashbacks so they can help with the process, whether that means letting you be by yourself or being there with you.

8. Take the time to recover. Flashbacks can be very powerful. Give yourself time to make the transition from this powerful experience. Don’t expect yourself to jump into other activities right away. Take a nap, a warm bath, or some quiet time. Be kind and gentle with yourself. Do not beat yourself up for having a flashback.

9. Honour your experience. Appreciate yourself for having survived that horrible time. Respect your body’s need to experience a full range of feelings.

10. Be patient. It takes time to heal. It takes time to learn appropriate ways of taking care of yourself and developing effective ways of coping in the here and now. - University of Alberta, Sexual Assault Centre

University of Alberta, Sexual Assault Centre: Coping with Flashbacks

(via gynocraticgrrl)
Findings released Thursday by Pew showed that most Republicans think rich people are largely responsible for their socioeconomic status. They also feel the same way about poor people. Fifty-seven percent of GOP voters said that a person is rich because “he or she worked harder than others,” while just 32 percent attribute it to advantages they enjoyed. The results are almost completely flipped among Democrats. Overall, 51 percent of Americans said that people are wealthy due to advantages in life, while 38 percent said it had more to do with hard work. Pew also found that 51 percent of Republicans believe that people are poor due to a lack of hard work, compared with just 32 percent who attribute it to circumstances beyond their control. Those results also put Republicans out of step with the rest of the country.

Poll Shows Most Republicans Think People Are Poor Because They Don’t Work Hard Enough

Because obviously, if the single mother with two minimum wage jobs would only work HARDER, she’d be as rich as the trust fund baby whose mansion she cleans; also, obviously, CEOs just work 400 times as hard as their low-level employees.

(via sjows)

thriveforhappiness:

whether the answer is yes or no, or a mix of the both, i wanted to remind you that you’re great. here is some stuff that i thought might be helpful if you ever feel down or bored or just wanna try something new!!

playlists // don’t be down / happy, happy, happy / cheer up!! / feeling down? / upbeat / for when you’re feeling sad.. / be happy! / songs to listen to when you are feeling sad. / anxiety/panic attacks / dashboard session / nostalgic. / it’s okay, not be okay. / anxiety’s lullaby / don’t be sad / songs that make you feel better / hey man, it’ll be okay. / note to self. / forget about it / baby don’t cut 

cheering up // emergency compliment!! paying for people’s groceries / random acts of kindness caught on film / free hugs experiment / tipping servers $200 / little acts of kindness / 27 videos that will make you happy / givesmehope / textpost blog!! / the everything post / repeat after me. / feel like you lost something? / you are not alone. / just listen to this / cute yahoo answers / nail art tuts / bad x-factor auditions / need a hug?  / you can do anything 

cool stuff // music thing / how to lucid dream!! / teach yourself guitar (wow) / learn a new language / creepy websites / the color game / make a mind palace / explore the world / make a temporary tattoo! / musical sea creature // babies experiencing things / 7 day positive challengeif you forgot how beautiful the world is / draw a nebula / watch documentaries / sugar cookies recipe / 100 things to do / anasomnia / kawaii emotions / 100+ games / make your own font

depression // how to love yourselfalternatives to self harm / what am i feeling? / if you feel like crap / dealing with depression / let go of your past. / what is depression?depression & cutting/things to do instead of cutting / alternatives to self harm / the cure to sadness! (in under 3 minutes) / things to do when you’re sad  / feel good 101: depression/ stop cutting, create instead

anxiety/stress // soundrown / build stuff with sand / rainymood / chill out / zen garden / managing stress / social anxiety tips / PTSD forums / anti-anxiety masterpost / a place to think / calming manatee / the dawn room / 100,000 stars / types of anxiety disorders / anxiety attack tips / anti-anxiety foods / using a thought diary / panic attacks & anxiety /

eating disorders // bloating in recovery  / why you must eat / what is ED recovery? / learning to love your body / how to eat a fear food / helping someone with an eating disorder / 281 reasons to recover /

asking for help // telling people how you’re feeling / how do i tell someone when im afraid? /  how to ask for helpanxiety forums

movies, documentaries, tv // action movies / disney movies / scary moviesmovies for angsty teensmy mad, fat diary / mean girls / blue is the warmest color / submarine / teen wolf / the vampire diaries / pretty little liars / american horror story / bob’s burgers / the mindy project / ultimate teen movie masterpost / hannah montana / sherlock / american beauty 

thriveforhappiness:

whether the answer is yes or no, or a mix of the both, i wanted to remind you that you’re great. here is some stuff that i thought might be helpful if you ever feel down or bored or just wanna try something new!!

playlists // don’t be down / happy, happy, happy / cheer up!! / feeling down? / upbeat / for when you’re feeling sad.. / be happy! / songs to listen to when you are feeling sad. / anxiety/panic attacks / dashboard session / nostalgic. / it’s okay, not be okay. / anxiety’s lullaby / don’t be sad / songs that make you feel better / hey man, it’ll be okay. / note to self. / forget about it / baby don’t cut 

cheering up // emergency compliment!! paying for people’s groceries / random acts of kindness caught on film / free hugs experiment / tipping servers $200 / little acts of kindness / 27 videos that will make you happy / givesmehope / textpost blog!! / the everything post / repeat after me. / feel like you lost something? / you are not alone. / just listen to this / cute yahoo answers / nail art tuts / bad x-factor auditions / need a hug?  / you can do anything 

cool stuff // music thing / how to lucid dream!! / teach yourself guitar (wow) / learn a new language / creepy websites / the color game / make a mind palace / explore the world / make a temporary tattoo! / musical sea creature // babies experiencing things / 7 day positive challengeif you forgot how beautiful the world is / draw a nebula / watch documentaries / sugar cookies recipe / 100 things to do / anasomnia / kawaii emotions / 100+ games / make your own font

depression // how to love yourselfalternatives to self harm / what am i feeling? / if you feel like crap / dealing with depression / let go of your past. / what is depression?depression & cutting/things to do instead of cutting / alternatives to self harm / the cure to sadness! (in under 3 minutes) / things to do when you’re sad  / feel good 101: depression/ stop cutting, create instead

anxiety/stress // soundrown / build stuff with sand / rainymood / chill out / zen garden / managing stress / social anxiety tips / PTSD forums / anti-anxiety masterpost / a place to think / calming manatee / the dawn room / 100,000 stars / types of anxiety disorders / anxiety attack tips / anti-anxiety foods / using a thought diary / panic attacks & anxiety /

eating disorders // bloating in recovery  / why you must eat / what is ED recovery? / learning to love your body / how to eat a fear food / helping someone with an eating disorder / 281 reasons to recover /

asking for help // telling people how you’re feeling / how do i tell someone when im afraid? /  how to ask for helpanxiety forums

movies, documentaries, tv // action movies / disney movies / scary moviesmovies for angsty teensmy mad, fat diary / mean girls / blue is the warmest color / submarine / teen wolf / the vampire diaries / pretty little liars / american horror story / bob’s burgers / the mindy project / ultimate teen movie masterpost / hannah montana / sherlock / american beauty 

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