Tens of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan veterans have returned home from the wars with a debilitating condition: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD. The VA is at loose ends about how to deal with a mental health crisis that is ruining not only the lives of returning vets, but those of their families and friends as well. Drug therapy, which is the main way they have treated the problem, has proven to be not only ineffective, but has worsened the situation, triggering an extraordinary spike in substance abuse, leading to violent behaviors and suicide.
Fortunately, there is a non-drug option with a proven track record in treating anxiety, depression, and insomnia which are the primary symptoms of PTSD. It’s called cranial electrotherapy stimulation, or CES. It’s an electronic device that is simple to use, has no side effects, and has been validated by decades of research. CES is currently being prescribed for active duty personnel returning from the mid-east at the Warrior Combat Stress Reset Program at Ft. Hood, TX, at Ft. Campbell, KY, Ft. Joint Ft Lewis-McChord, WA, at the Bremerton WA Naval Hospital, as well as in combat conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan. It should not stop there.
Operation Pro-Vet: How You Can Help
CES units generally retail for $350-$995. Because they are not generally covered by health insurance, they are most often out of the reach of veterans most of whom have a limited income or who are currently unemployed. Neuro-Fitness LLC, the manufacturer of the CES Ultra—in recognition of those who have given so much for their country—will now make available its CES unit at wholesale cost to veterans, not only of our current wars but our past wars as well as to their families. We are also working with Service clubs to make available units at a special low cost so that they may then be distributed to veterans in need.
To learn more about CES, visit us at our website: https://www.cesultra.com/. To learn more about the program, call us at 1-425-222-0830 or email us today at sales@ cesultra.com for more information and how your local group or organization can become part of this program to assist those who have served on our behalf. They deserve nothing less.
Military personnel experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms from trauma faced in the line of duty often go many years without seeking treatment. Sgt. Dwayne Sawyer suffered from PTSD symptoms for five years before he sought help, while Leading Aircraftsman J. Smith (name changed to protect identity) suffered from the late 1950s until four years ago. Even with medical assistance, some may not experience relief from their symptoms, while others won’t seek help because of the stigma attached to the diagnosis of PTSD.
Fortunately, there is an emerging technology that is non-addictive and has outstanding results, helping 85% of trauma sufferers who use the device regularly. There are several devices on the market, the most accessible being the Sleep Genie. It uses cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES) technology to stimulate the relaxation centre of the brain, helping the user to sleep better, which in turn, alleviates some of the symptoms related to PTSD. According to Eileen Jones’ 2006 research paper Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation, A Non-Drug Neuromedical Treatment, the device works by sending a low intensity microcurrent to the brain. The unit is designed for home use: the user fastens two clips behind the ears from a hand-held machine.
Several doctors in Canada are using CES as part of their therapy. In Barrie, Ontario Dr. Jonathan Douglas, (Ph.D., C.Psych) became aware of the technology in 1998. He looked into it for a number of years, analyzing the research before trying it as a part of his practice. He began using the Alpha- Stim in his office and then purchased several Sleep Genie units to lend out to his clients for home use. Dr. Douglas explains the deciding factors for using this technology: I use it based on the presentation of the client – do they have difficulty falling asleep? Are they anxious or depressed? Do
Sgt. Sawyer was experiencing sleeplessness due to flashbacks and nightmares; PTSD symptoms that resulted in sleep avoidance. I didn’t want to fall asleep because I didn’t want to relive the trauma, explained Sawyer. As a result, he was exhausted all the time and spending $75-100 per day on high dosage sleep medication. He wanted off the medication.
It’s a big thing for a lot of the guys. You don’t want to be medicated when you don’t have to be.When his therapist recommended CES therapy, Sawyer was skeptical at first, thinking there is no way this will work. He noticed results after just a week, and after six weeks he was getting a full night’s sleep and had more energy during the day. He uses the CES device for 20 minutes per week while he watches television. He still gets flashbacks and nightmares, but nothing to what it was before. Life is slowly coming back to normal again. I can keep my symptoms under control now. It saved my wife and kids.
Leading Aircraftsman Smith wasn’t skeptical about the CES device when his therapist recommended it. He was fed up with his symptoms. He explains, I’ll try anything to help. After three years of using the technology regularly, he still experiences his PTSD symptoms on and off, but they are not as severe as they were before.
Dr. Ken Welburn, Ph.D., C Psych, the clinical director of a trauma clinic in Ottawa, has been educating therapists for 20 years about the psychiatric symptoms of trauma. He explains that cranial electrotherapy stimulation is a widely researched area. Since the technology was invented in the 1950s in Russia for sleep problems, many scientific studies have been done and are very conclusive that it is an effective treatment of insomnia, anxiety, depression, and certain types of pain. He was impressed with the research on CES devices, especially that there are no serious side effects, so he purchased a unit and tried it on himself. He experienced better quality sleep and felt a calm focus during the day.
Dr. Welburn started a study with his clients, using the variables: sleep latency, numbers of hours spent asleep, disturbance in sleep, and sleep deprivation during the day. He evaluates his clients based on this criteria before they use the CES device and interviews them every week for the eight weeks using the device. There is a pronounced effect, a dramatic change in these variables. He explains that, to PTSD sufferers, sleep is a dangerous place so you try to avoid it. He finds that continued use of the CES unit helps his clients to better handle stress without overacting to change emotionally. Dr. Welburn notices the biggest changes in sleep quality, anxiety levels, and the improved ability to focus. It is a great tool for treating trauma and for helping manage the symptoms my clients are experiencing. It is not the whole therapy but part of it.
Both doctors believe that the use of medications for sleep, anxiety, and antidepressants can be drastically reduced with continued sessions. But they also say its important to keep in mind that changes occur over time and with continued use. As Dr. Douglas explains, there is never going to be a cookie cutter approach for any situation. Some people will not find relief in the technology. Dr. Welburn finds that approximately 85% of people respond positively to the treatment, while Dr. Douglas found that since his introduction of the CES device in 2006, only three patients have had a negative reaction.
The Sleep Genie (now the CES Ultra device) can be purchased directly from the company but it is recommended people use it in conjunction with therapy. It is not recommended that you use the device if you are pregnant or if you have a pacemaker. Dr. Welburn explains, there have never been any adverse side effects in these cases; it is just a precaution.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is known to be a very difficult syndrome to treat in that traumatic memories that are normally sequestered in a separate, sometimes amnesic part of the brain can appear in nightmares, or in sudden flashbacks during the waking state. These are accompanied by a very intense body-wide sympathetic neurological response during which the patient experiences a very strong and frightening state of panic. If these continue unabated, the syndrome can progress and become a much more difficult problem to treat.
Therapists are taught to avoid inciting these states of recall until and unless the patient can quickly be brought out of them if they threaten to get out of control. To do that, the patient is taught how to switch mentally into a “safe place,” or to concentrate intensely on specific items in the here and now, using whatever other stress reduction procedures he and the therapist have worked out in advance, such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and the like. When a patient in therapy begins to experience a flashback that is becoming too intense, he is taught immediately to go to this safe place, and thus turn off the traumatic experience.
There is a published CES study in which it was found that phobic patients can not experience a fear response when CES is being applied, and usually for a time after cessation of the treatment.1 Thereby lies a potentially important use of CES in the treatment of PTSD.
The usual, non CES treatment involves slowly but surely bringing out parts of the traumatic memory as the patient can tolerate them, until the whole memory is back into awareness and can be integrated back into the personality. That process can go forward no faster than the patient can handle the memories called forth during the therapeutic process, sometimes requiring years of therapy. The use of CES during the therapeutic process might well block the patient’s fear and its attendant stress reaction in a manner that would allow the patient and therapist to bring forward elements of the memory at a much faster rate, and therefore shorten the time of therapy significantly, and with much less trauma to the patient.
In addition, having a personal CES unit in his home, and also even available at other times, could be seen by the patient as very emotionally supportive, and thus intensely therapeutic. Just knowing that it was available should reduce the patient’s stress significantly, since he would know that he always had a means at hand to stop or block the trauma when it was in the process of emerging from his subconscious in too great an intensity to handle by other means.
1Smith, Ray B., and Frank N. Shiromoto. (1992) The use of cranial electrotherapy stimulation to block fear perception in phobic patients. Current Therapeutic Research, 51(2):249-253.