(WTNH) -- What works best when it comes to treating military personnel with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? A UConn study is looking into answering that.
News 8 sat down with Dr. Julian Ford, the lead researcher for the study.
He is comparing the widely used PTSD psychotherapy to a newer one which focuses more on how to manage highly charged emotions, so soldiers are better able to transition to life back home.
The number of men and women coming from home Iraq and Afghanistan with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is often under-reported. Equally concerning is the number of them who do not seek treatment.
"Many of them are skeptical about any psychological treatments," said Dr. Ford.
Treatments that Dr. Ford says require them to re-live traumatic experiences on the war front.
That's why he developed a therapy at UConn Health Center enabling soldiers to overcome that heightened readiness of threat and survival.
"What we show people is that it's possible to have that same sense of alertness and readiness without going into that survival alarm state," said Dr. Ford.
Through repeated practice, retired Marine Lt. Colonel Michael Zacchea is now able to control his PTSD.
"One of the things I needed to do was remember that I was here in the United States, not in Iraq and I was not in danger," Zacchea said. "I used to have terrible road rages and I had a number of problems with reckless driving because I drove like I was in combat in Iraq, but I have a picture of my son in the windshield visor and so when I have a reaction, I look at him and I remember that this is where I am and I'm not getting shot at and I'm not in combat."
Anchoring images like that, Dr. Ford says, turns off the alarm system of the brain that triggers PTSD.
"That memory center is able to send it to the brain's thinking center, which in turn signals the alarm, I got it under control," said Dr. Ford.
However, how it stacks up against the widely used psychotherapy for PTSD offered by the military is the focus of Dr. Ford's on-going study at UConn Health Center.
"I found it very effective personally."
He needs more men like Michael Zacchea to sign up.
For more information, contact Research Coordinator Michelle at 860-679-2587.
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