Listen to “#5: Treatments for PTSD 2: Prolonged Exposure” on Spreaker.

 

In this episode of PTSD Bytes, host and clinical psychologist Pearl McGee-Vincent from the VA National Center for PTSD talks about prolonged exposure with Dr. Carmen McLean. Prolonged exposure is one of the most effective evidence-based treatments for PTSD that can help people lead fuller lives.

What is prolonged exposure?

Prolonged exposure, or “PE,” is a trauma-focused psychotherapy that teaches you to gradually approach memories and situations associated with the trauma. There are two types of exposure in this treatment: one is “imaginal” which involves telling your therapist about your memories of the trauma. The other is “in vivo,” which involves actually facing people, places and things you may have been avoiding since the trauma.

Why try prolonged exposure?

While facing memories or situations associated with trauma may not sound appealing, avoidance can keep people stuck in PTSD. PE is about finding ways to deal with distress caused by trauma triggers you may experience in life. By doing this gradually and repeatedly with the support of your therapist, you can decrease the amount of distress you experience and start to live a fuller life.

A common fear about PE is that PTSD symptoms will worsen at first but research shows this only happens in a minority of cases. And even in those cases, people still experience the benefits of this treatment. In fact, prolonged exposure has been shown to be one of the most effective treatments for PTSD.

Seeking treatment

If you are interested in prolonged exposure treatment and enrolled in VA care, you already have access to it. You can ask any of your providers for a referral. If you are not enrolled in VA care, there are also prolonged exposure providers in the community.

A good place to start is by looking through therapist directories from professional organizations, such as the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) or the Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA).

Once in treatment, the mobile app PE Coach is a useful tool that can support the work you are doing with your PE therapist, whether in-person or via telehealth.

Additional links:

If you are a Veteran who is experiencing a crisis or supporting a loved one who is, call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1 for immediate assistance, or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/chat.

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70 Comments

  1. William Womack March 23, 2022 at 7:53 pm

    PE increased my PTSD symptoms and put me back on point for several years so it’s definitely not for me…

  2. Bud March 22, 2022 at 11:28 am

    First off after reading through the comments I’m a bit discouraged more of my brothers and sisters have not found the Vet Centers. Treatment there is far better, at least here in the NE, than the VA for PTSD in a weekly face to face approach.
    As to methods described in this article. On a whole, no thanks. In a light, kind of surface manner, it is what you approach in talk therapy. However it’s not a forced issue which is what this encourages.
    I have learned to live with my PTSD, un medicated and rather well. Yes, I still ride the roller coaster, no I don’t drive to destroy anymore nor look to fight orthose self destructive things…mostly. I do hang on to those good bits of my PTSd.
    It was not easy getting here. It’s not easy staying here. It never will be. I have PTSD it does not have me.
    Having tried your methods before and lost ground. I can honestly say. Your research as far as I’m concerned is flawed.

  3. Alan Shaw March 20, 2022 at 6:56 pm

    As a Vietnam combat vet with PTSD, tinnitus etc. all I can say to those who were denied any compensation: put up a fight and don’t give up. You have to know the system. And you have to put yourself in the shoes of the evaluator. They can’t read your mind. Don’t leave anything out. Keep a daily log for a month or two and write everything down that you experience. There may be a significant event that you may have forgotten or downplayed. Write up your assessment of yourself and also ask those you know if you left anything out. If you can get the VA rating sheet as they look for certain key words. When you describe your symptoms don’t hold back, but don’t exaggerate or lie either. If you get a rating of 30% find out what are the requirements for the 50% or 70% rating. You might be at the higher levels but omitted some key words or events that might make you eligible for the higher rating. Do your online research and homework. Seek advice from VA counselors or go to the DVA, DAV, VFW etc. as they have advisors that can guide you and help you deal with the VA system and your claim. If you feel your claim was wrongly denied use the appeals system. It may take some time to be re-evaluated etc. but if you do get a bump up it will be retroactive to your initial filing. You sacrificed your life and well being to protect this country. Just remember too you are not alone trying to get what you rightly deserve. Good luck !!!

  4. Grant Rudolph, LMFT March 20, 2022 at 5:53 pm

    I have seen PE work safely to shift people from avoiding their traumatic thoughts to normalizing them and moving on with their life. Dr. Carmen McLean makes an important point about how PTSD sufferers often fear being overwhelmed and reinjured by exposure to traumatic memories. At our clinic we use LENS neurofeedback to directly release brain inflammation related to trauma memories. When the emotional charge is disengaged at the cellular level in the brain, resolving traumatic memories is safe and easy. Then increased awareness through psychotherapy is the first step in healing.

  5. Maureen Huber March 19, 2022 at 6:21 pm

    I have read all the above comments. I am 100% disabled with chronic complex PTSD/MST diagnosis, I am unable to work. I have gone to thru the VA PTSD program in Menlo Park CA. I had repressed my trauma for 25 yrs until a job I took triggered an “anniversary event” – and then all the skeletons started falling out of the closet…..
    I’ve done the “program” – CBT, took the drugs given to me, anti depressants, sleep aids(ha! Horrible side effects) talk therapy etc. then my very good psychiatrist from the VA retired & since then, the replacement psychiatrist-that one left the VA. Now I have no psychiatrist.
    However, what was and is effective now for me… I have gone through emdr- outside of the VA through a nonprofit that supports male & female vets (Dreampower) I also have sought out accupuncture- Emotional Freedom technique which is also helpful. I pay out of pocket for that. I recently had a Stellate Ganglion Block in March of 2021-through a group called STELLA- that by far has been the highest success in helping alleviate my PTSD symptoms . My symptoms have not disappeared but the results have been significant. This too was done outside the VA. I feel fortunate to be living in the area where the VA and Stanford are doing tons of research around PTSD. I encourage everyone that reads this, start reading and researching – there’s help out there especially with nonprofits that are support groups, I attend 2 different groups weekly.
    Another helpful tool, I now have a service dog. It was one of the best things my psychiatrist did- wrote me a letter to get a service dog. Whom I received through a nonprofit called Operation Freedom Paws- I still volunteer with them now. They match the dog(all are from rescue shelters) to the veteran and their needs. It’s a very time demanding program- but it has changed my life. I felt hopeless when I was assigned unemployability status –

    • Lonnie Williams March 21, 2022 at 5:48 pm

      Great post. Thank you.

  6. Charles Hannert March 18, 2022 at 7:44 pm

    One doesn’t have to be in combat to have PTSD. I was in the Coast Guard in the 60’s search and rescue and some so called semi isolated duty where once we were left to die. In Search and rescue mother nature/the weather was ” shooting” at us all the time. Too many flashbacks to dead bodies, the smell of death, and similar situations. Also as a Federal Boarding Officer PO3 many civilians did not like us and I was attacked from behind more than once. Writing this is hard to do. I have been through the CPT and see a PTSD counselor monthly and also a peer support specialist. My counselor is not prior military and I don’t think she has a clue what we went through as someone that wrote the government a blank check for our lives for how ever may years. I didn’t realize I had PTSD until about 2 years ago at age 75 when a very knowledgeable U.S. Army Col. noticed it in my actions and encourage me to look into it. PTSD ruined my life, 4 marriages, DUIL’s , many different jobs and lived in 25 different places so far. The VA is working with me on it but sometimes I do wonder who’s side they are on. I am 50% PTSD rated and am told by some I should file for an increase, but of course some have to through out the ” you could be reduced” which in my opinion is B.S. as my symptoms get worse as I go. I use PTSD Coach almost daily along with the counselor and the Peer Support person. PTSD is here to stay and I say I paid dearly with the time I served. I have horrible memories. The dead, drowned, young, old, whatever. And some really stupid people I served with that really impacted my life in a big negative way. I have flashbacks every day, everyday and some days many times. There are just so many triggers. Depression, anxiety, hyper-vigilance, b/p high, panic attacks, you name it. They didn’t know about PTSD in my day and I have been on Xanax over 40-50 years and I didn’t know about VA help and the VA never contacted me until I contacted them. I lost a big chunk of my hearing also and it is attributed to all the loud noises I was exposed to with no hearing protection back then offered. We used a lot of leaded materials, paints, and fuels etc. also that I wonder about the effect of that. I have some things to take care of before filing for a PTSD increase but I don’t like some VA people trying to scare me off from doing so. Hence, who’s side are they on ? I also go through my own PE every day in my flashbacks so do I really need more VA sponsored PE ?

  7. Charles Hannert March 18, 2022 at 7:41 pm

    One doesn’t have to be in combat to have PTSD. I was in the Coast Guard in the 60’s search and rescue and some so called semi isolated duty where once we were left to die. In Search and rescue mother nature/the weather was ” shooting” at us all the time. Too many flashbacks to dead bodies, the smell of death, and similar situations. Also as a Federal Boarding Officer PO3 many civilians did not like us and I was attacked from behind more than once. Writing this is hard to do. I have been through the CPT and see a PTSD counselor monthly and also a peer support specialist. My counselor is not prior military and I don’t think she has a clue what we went through as someone that wrote the government a blank check for our lives for how ever may years. I didn’t realize I had PTSD until about 2 years ago at age 75 when a very knowledgeable U.S. Army Col. noticed it in my actions and encourage me to look into it. PTSD ruined my life, 4 marriages, DUIL’s , many different jobs and lived in 25 different places so far. The VA is working with me on it but sometimes I do wonder who’s side they are on. I am 50% PTSD rated and am told by some I should file for an increase, but of course some have to through out the ” you could be reduced” which in my opinion is B.S. as my symptoms get worse as I go. I use PTSD Coach almost daily along with the counselor and the Peer Support person. PTSD is here to stay and I say I paid dearly with the time I served. I have horrible memories. The dead, drowned, young, old, whatever. And some really stupid people I served with that really impacted my life in a big negative way. I have flashbacks every day, everyday and some days many times. There are just so many triggers. Depression, anxiety, hyper-vigilance, b/p high, panic attacks, you name it. They didn’t know about PTSD in my day and I have been on Xanax over 40-50 years and I didn’t know about VA help and the VA never contacted me until I contacted them. I lost a big chunk of my hearing also and it is attributed to all the loud noises I was exposed to with no hearing protection back then offered. We used a lot of leaded materials, paints, and fuels etc. also that I wonder about the effect of that. I have some things to take care of before filing for a PTSD increase but I don’t like some VA people trying to scare me off from doing so. Hence, who’s side are they on ? I also go through my own PE every day in my flashbacks so do I really need more VA sponsored PE ?

  8. Zane James Libert March 18, 2022 at 4:36 pm

    For too long Veterans have been PUSH aside by the VA. I am sick of the piss poor treatment. The Doctor at the local VA clinic doesn’t listen to me when I tell him I am in PAIN…he never does anything for me. They just PUSH ME OUT as fast as I walk in. Do you understand why 22 Veterans a day take their own lives? All this LIP SERVICE doesn’t do them any good. I think you just HOPE they off themselves so the VA doesn’t have to deal with them anymore…fewer problems when they are NOT around to complain….right?

    • Eric March 21, 2022 at 11:54 am

      Yes I’ve seen the same problem. You go in , you get your 30 minutes, nothing happens and you leave. Or they tell you there is nothing wrong. In my case it would be nice to talk to a real doctor in stead of a doctor trainee. My “doctors” come from a Medical center. Some are better than others. Some not. Its very frustrating.

  9. linda March 18, 2022 at 1:09 pm

    Thank you all for your comments, information, and “shares.” I am a female, and was a weapons load specialist(Bomb loader) in the Liberation of Kuwait(Desert Storm, USAF).
    PTSD IS HARROWING! and it’s silent threat to every aspect of my life, especially because I was in denial a very long time about it, is lethal!
    I have been in CBT for it for going on 7 years now, and I have only minimally improved on that scale of assessment that is used to measure how the aspects of it impact the ability for me to live my life, interact with others, sleep, have interest in things, do things, etc…
    In addition, I am battling with depression, and lifelong pain in my back because after a severe injury to me, my command(who was also sexually abusive, and cruel to women), left me to become a cripple while they sent my load crew chief who injured me, down to a ship to be ex-rayed, and sent back to the states to get proper medical treatment.
    I am still fighting the VA to be compensated for PTSD, appropriately for my back injury, and several other things.

    VA IS IN DENIAL!

    I hope that we can all continue to support each other by showing up, and offering information, jokes like the veteran who made us all chuckle with his marriage joke relating it to Prolonged Exposure, and just sharing.
    I made a promise to my wife that I would not commit suicide, so I have kept that promise, and so our “PE” is going on 30 years this September!

    I “Thank You” all for your service!
    When we raise our right hand and promise to go where we are sent, “right or wrong” by the opinions or judgements of others, we are the ones who make a difference no others are ever going to make in this life or world! This thought has helped me to “come back home to myself” every time I have needed it!…In my trigger episodes, hateful stares, denial by the VA, and making me as a female, jump through preposterous hoops, etc…

    I truly honor and love you my beloved veterans.
    Thank You for taking the time to share here.

    I will not let the VA get away with dishonoring me and my service, by denying me compensation. And I hope my fight and win will set a precedent they will have to honor and abide by here on out!

    Have an “Honorable” Day!

  10. georgejohnson March 18, 2022 at 12:38 pm

    THE FOLLOWING COMMENT FROM A POSTED COMMENT IS REMINISCENT OF MY OWN EXPERIENCE, EXCEPT FOR THE COMPLAINT THAT “THEY GOT ME HOOKED ON XANAX: I was in therapy with several shirks over the years. In the 70’s they got me hooked on Xanax. In the 90’s a shrink said i should change to Clonasapam. I’ve tried to get off the drug. It is very hard to do and when I get it cut down the side effects cause more tremors. Two years ago the VA denied further prescriptions for the drug that they hooked me on. I get by! I put my Faith and Trust in God. NOT THE VA1 Best wishes to you all and God Bless.
    My own opinion is that the live of competence in the psychiatric area at the VA is suffused by an unsaid protocol, which is that we who have this “ailment” are a bunch of whiners , most of us lost in a fog of symptoms which we have not been able to attenuate through some form of internal “gumption”. Character, even. A neurosurgeon at the Mayo Clinic looked at my case (TBI-generated PTSD and gave me the best advice I could have gotten at the time: “These memories of yours from Vietnam will plague you for the rest of your life, and your level of brain trauma makes me remark that you are lucky to even be alive, I find no explanation for the apparent miraculous effects of a brain plasticity that is.. unusual. Carry this 50mg tablet (Alprazolam-Xanax) in your pocket at all times. When you feel the symptoms come on and you will get better and better at anticipating them at their outset, excuse yourself from whatever human interaction you are having, find an isolation-place, like a men’s room, and wait till the drug takes its effect”. This I did for years. It is the solution. Normality is out of the question. Man who loses a leg in combat has the proof of his bravery. We whose minds have been affected, by direct trauma or the gossamer ghosts of Survivors’ Guilt, have no such visible imprimatur. Then, 3 years ago, the VA said, “we need to put you on something more constant, Xanax no, apparently some bureaucratic hack-doctor decided that there was going to be a new Xanax Rule. Brilliant. A judgment call that has resulted in y self-imposed exile. No longer trusting human contact, without an avenue to alleviate, in 30 minutes, years of tuning my perceptional abilities to use it as prescribed, eventually reducing its need to maybe once every three weeks, truncated.
    Screw the VA “Psychological” department. The Vietnam War was a trial (by fire). This is no different. It is to be endured. And just thank God for having survived, unlike our 58,000 brothers.

  11. Kenneth D Phillips March 18, 2022 at 10:15 am

    For me it helped perhaps your holding back I always tried to defect the events with jokes soon e than later it catches up. It’s best to be fully open about the events to find a path for your individual treatment Dr. Teller here in Nashville, is a modern therapy DR.. The other issue is we should receive a Purple Heart for TBI (Traumatic Brain Injurie) it’s the same as most injuries received in service but not recognized beyond care. Why not??

  12. Brad Colbert March 18, 2022 at 7:53 am

    This is a horribly antiquated and poorly conceptualized protocol. “telling your therapist about the memories” makes no sense since trauma is a right brained problem. And there is no language in the right brain. So imagine how stupid a client feels being unable to even articulate the problem.
    The reason why there is such a high rate of untreated trauma in the VA hospital system is because you continually use protocols that were incepted 100 years ago to treat some thing we have very effective protocols for today.
    I do not understand why the VA, and military medicine, have not embraced EMDR to its fullest potential. or what about Nuro plasticity treatments like vestibular stimulation. Products like a Gyro stim are amazing for treatment of TBI, and PTSD. There has been dozens of clinical studies published on this modality.
    EMDR has been effective since the 1970s. And amazing at treating PTSD and trauma in general. But your programs continually choose CBT. Which is never effective for trauma.

  13. Anna E Turner March 17, 2022 at 3:21 pm

    I was told by VA that I did not have PTSD. I have all the symptoms and they seem to get worse the older I get. I am on medication and it does seem to help some. I feel that VA could do a better job when dealing with the veterans. I agree with some of the comments of the other veterans. Currently, I am trying to get a higher percentage of disability for my disabilities. I get 30% disability for both knees, tinnitus, some hearing loss and nothing for loss of vision in my left eye. I’m not giving up and will continue to pursue my claim. I’m doing my research and continue to ask questions because this is not right. Every veteran should be taken care of and I pray that God will help us. We must continue to move forward to help them to help us. Getting a higher Percentage of disability would help me a lot right now. I hope someone at VA will read this cry for help.

  14. David Johnson March 17, 2022 at 3:15 pm

    First, I have received excellent help and service from the VA except for my PTSD. My condition was not caused by my service, but by long term emotional and some physical abuse by my own parents. I took the Mental Health tests they give. The tester came back and described exactly what I was feeling and I thought that at last someone understands the severity of my issues!
    Then he said that nobody feels that way and that I was making it up to get attention! He also said my interpretations of the ink blots were ridiculous! I think it is possible that they wanted to see if I was a borderline personality disorder person. I went into dissociation as I do with most any trigger and my “competent” personality took over so I don’t remember much past these two things.
    I just don’t think the psychologists at the VA are taking PTSD seriously enough. My initial reaction to the exposure therapy is the same as always, terror and disassociation. How is that supposed to help?

    • Charles Hannert March 18, 2022 at 7:48 pm

      My PTSD is getting worse the older I get, now 77+ years old.

  15. Jeff Kyle March 17, 2022 at 2:14 pm

    I served for 25 years. 4 in the Marine corps and 21 in the Air Force. I’ve tried various methods to alleviate PTSD symptoms including prolonged exposure. On the one hand, I never served in a war zone (Washington DC in the late ‘80’s and early’90’s doesn’t count.) What I did see and experience runs the gamut from vehicular fires to aircraft crashes. Suicides, accidental deaths from different causes, being on alert for 10+ years, and let’s not forget the Cold War and Katrina. These issues are intertwined through my memories and dreams. I tried sitting down and writing about some of these experiences but had to stop. The images in my mind were massively distressing and created more nightmares. I have nightmares every time I fall asleep. I can usually count on 4-5 hours of sleep a day. I’ve been sleep deprived for so long, it’s like I’m in an eternal fog. Immediately prior to retirement, I got hurt pretty bad. I’ve got lots of chronic pain issues. TBI from several sources including getting the crap Bear out of my by my shop supervisor to ramming my head into numerous hard objects. All told, IIRC, I’ve had between 10 to 20 surgeries to correct problems. I’ve got at least three more to go once I can convince myself that it’ll be alright.
    I’m done complaining for now, thanks for listening.

  16. Don Evans March 17, 2022 at 1:51 pm

    I am 74 years. I spent my life up to age 59 working until the PTSD and the injuries became so intense that I filed for benefits and it took the DAV and several meetings and several denials before I was finally put at 70% and unemployability. PTSD panic attacks took me to the ER several times a year at my own expense. I thought I was having heart attacks. As the years have gone by I have developed a head tremor. I had my right lower leg smashed and it was almost cut off. The VA denied the lower leg could have caused problems with my ankle, knee and hip. The Bremerton Hospital report says that I have limited range of motion in the ankle and knee, but the VA denied the problems. I was in therapy with several shirks over the years. In the 70’s they got me hooked on Xanax. In the 90’s a shrink said i should change to Clonasapam. I’ve tried to get off the drug. It is very hard to do and when I get it cut down the side effects cause more tremors. Two years ago the VA denied further prescriptions for the drug that they hooked me on. I get by! I put my Faith and Trust in God. NOT THE VA1 Best wishes to you all and God Bless.

  17. Hank Acker March 17, 2022 at 1:24 pm

    I am going through PTSD evaluation currently. The message I get from this forum is to beware of medication. I am drug and alcohol-free and I am having my sleep interrupted by lousy memories in Korea. I am ninety years old and in good health after surviving a heart attack, bladder, kidney and prostate cancers several years ago. The nighttime events are not new, just getting more frequent. What I can gather from previous comments on this forum, I may not take any process or procedure the VA may recommend, let alone any medications. Thanks for all of your input and comments.

    • Eugene Blohm March 17, 2022 at 4:52 pm

      Hank, a lot of the comments you have made sounds very familiar….l was in Korea
      Officially I was in the Air Force, Fought Hand to hand SCARWAF. With the Marines
      Kept the Combat Readiness of a Fighter Bomber wing,,with W/O Amos Cloninger
      Watched him Flash Burn to death Thru the door that separated us..
      Went to Kimpo Korea
      Tactical Recon
      Did recon with all branches of the service, Army , Air Force , Navy, and Marine And Other Countries, Australia,Egypt.

      Only to find out that I could not find anyone who could write the order for me to go home
      I’m sorry we have no records for your service
      Finally they agreed to send me to the USA,
      Health was bad including Mental,,,,no help.
      Arrived in SanFrancisco,Calif …..YerbaBuenaIsland——-06/19/1952
      Only to hear”I’m sorry we are unable to find any records for you”
      My comment was not suitable to print,,,ended by me saying that I had called my Family from Japan,and my brother would be here to pickmeup
      With or without you doing anything

  18. Robert J Carnes, Jr. March 17, 2022 at 12:32 pm

    Have you ever done a segment article on Tinnitus?

  19. Shane Doe March 17, 2022 at 12:03 pm

    Group therapy is by far the most effective treatment to ease the ongoing symptoms of PTSD. Having lived with untreated severe trauma for many years, I went through all their pills and psychiatric analysis with no improvement. I nearly died several times from severe psychotic reaction to mind-altering medications.
    All I needed was someone to listen and stop judging me for heavily drinking and avoiding life due to depression.
    The VA provided a group therapy that really was helping. Of course, as most veterans have experienced, when a treatment starts to work well, the VA dumps it to try stuff they know won’t work.
    This is merely another way to avoid helping veterans who suffer with long-term effects of PTSD. There’s no single formula that fits everyone with PTSD.
    PE may work for some learning to live with PTSD; so it’s good to make it available as a potential therapy. However, the VA track-record concerning long-term treatment and following through with promises is abysmal. The more this treatment works, the less likely the VA will continue to make it available.

  20. Taina March 17, 2022 at 11:23 am

    How can I get a combat experienced counselor for my husband? His VA doctor wanted me to record his nighttime breathing while he is sleeping and moving as if he is back in combat zone; but it not easy to do. Also, he is having a harder time dealing with people in public. Nothing has escalated and we both agree medication is not the answer for him.

  21. john Holladay March 17, 2022 at 11:04 am

    Came back from Vietnam and drank heavily. In 79 after leaving the Corps my dinking scared me (hurting others) so stopped. Then took up exercise, at least 15 hours a week working out. Centry rides and triathlons. Then out to climb the Seven Summits. Lot of time hiking & rock climbing. Getting too old for all that, Still work long hours on my place. BUT, through prayer and trust in God I now have some control. Still (often) my mind takes me back to some real bad days in Nam when I lost a lot of men. Won’t tough PTSD meds, too many are worse than the cure. Still have bad days when the “Black DOG” (see W Churchill) is on my back and I feel like I’m in a box, o well

    Semper Fi

    • Richard C. Crabtree March 17, 2022 at 12:18 pm

      Read my WhiteRiver Junction V A review. Thankfully the V A system is trying to do better after ? how many years?

    • Jason thorough March 17, 2022 at 1:45 pm

      I still don’t understand the argument of what did you do to gain a mental problem PTSD etc… Look real people out in the world I’m talking to you forget all the B’s, old heads are trapped in memory in order to move ahead with our lives and keep these noisy ignorant fools away before you get your self esteem together you must overcome your past to gain your future…so all the yelling etc. Parents and all must understand your no longer a child.. Even though I’m really sure most of us who chose military active duty have way more stress placed on us then normal reserves even a normal job.. and I don’t know peoples lives don’t care to anymore, no one asked if you were in a gun fight you get to be awarded a medal (with the right command), I was in one before the military I was told ok as if it was nothing but keep speaking on things as if it’s bravery that earns you PTSD.. how could a nurse or doctor for that matter know what combat is like? Unless they have experienced war times, because the whole war thing is the stress bombs going off everyday, people constantly on alert watch, the enemy tries to kill while we sleep they launch things into the air it might hit you it might not, people you just met getting sniped dead the next day, preparing for close combat on base constant drills, security checks for bombs/ ieds, so for you old salty dogs I’ll just say that’s your opinion few instances where you’ve seen brutality up close, didn’t stop others from seeing the same if not worst it’s not a dang contest. And for those who have never seen combat or anything it’s not street war which is stupid those are sick angry people real war people get obliterated turned into a mist of pink if you’ve seen it you been to war. For every person who runs their mouth about someone else remember they are insecure it took me a while to see who was good in my life and who is a detriment even the ones you feel are good for you sometimes aren’t their forever so let them go that’s what I don’t understand about PTSD it says your avoiding relationships and all this but it’s a fruitless effort to speak to fools who have never traveled or experienced or just someone you don’t match energy with, the messed up part of the treatment doesn’t account for this it’s spoken from a top down perspective this is what’s going on etc… Speaking from a perspective of knowingly being a fool for others, also the feeling of one against it all, when everyone turns thier back, then come back to you because they need you but it was calculated move against you, see it gets really complicated and deep once you see through it though it’s a cake walk so do what you feel is necessary no one is going to hold our hands in this life …

  22. Tim Hershberger March 17, 2022 at 10:21 am

    So many of us have different opinions of VA treatments. I was pissed at entire system after Nam. 68-69. Drank heavy for 30 years, numerous jobs, 4 wives later, got sober, got to a VETS center and counseling for 2 1/2 years. The change started taking place. Between being sober, AA meetings, VA Shrinks, and self help stuff, has been a slow but steady program. Nothing happens overnight. The flashback dreams are less and less, I became less judgemental, and although still a loner, I have found some people I enjoy being around. No such thing as a quick fix.

    • Ashley Ouellette March 18, 2022 at 11:44 am

      thank you. This sounds like my husband but his sobriety came after 13 years after his service in Nam 69-70.

      • Paul Brooke April 3, 2022 at 7:21 pm

        See my reply to Tim Hershberger. SCUBA diving is not for everyone but it has helped lighten the load for many. Here’s another organization: https://www.lifewaters.org/

    • Paul Brooke April 3, 2022 at 7:12 pm

      I was a door gunner, 69-70. Finally sober in 1985. Learned to SCUBA dive, recently became an instructor. Interested? https://www.patriotsfordisableddivers.org/why-scuba/ paulbrooke@bellsouth.net

  23. Greg Grasse March 17, 2022 at 9:43 am

    For the first 15 years after leaving Nam I was in denial about PTSD and I self medicated. This VA PTSD awareness with other programs have helped me to move on from the early years of denial.

    My oldest son suffered from a my denial about PTSD. He is now 48 years old and for the the last 5 years has dropped out and living on the streets with a Opiate addiction.

    PTSD affect our families when we are in denial reach out before it to late save the next generation!

  24. Wendy Vance March 17, 2022 at 9:18 am

    I pray that the VA has the kind of leadership that demands truth to power. I have experienced rejection after rejection of my disability claim fand now have been waiting since May 2021 to receive a decision regarding my appeal on my PTSD claim. If you are depressed and feeling alone, the VA make you feel even more alone due to their lack of concern, support or sense of urgency. I pray this new program will be the change us Veterans need to see in order to begin to trust the VA again.

    • Evan Bellville March 17, 2022 at 10:33 am

      It can be a long lonely journey obtaining compensation and treatment for PTSD in the VA system. Keep at it. You might try finding a Vet Center for assistance. Also, there is a new facet to PTSD that really impacted me. It is called “Moral Injury”. This might help you define your issues to the VA. Try listening to theis link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOCAik4RAso .

      Most importantly, remember this, your claim must be labeled “NEW EVIDENCE” when adding information. Don’t hold back. The VA ONLY knows what you TELL them in the claim papers. Since you do not generally get to tell them in person, you must be able to communicate it on paper. Get help doing that if you need to. The Vet Centers can help!

  25. rich money March 17, 2022 at 9:09 am

    You should acquaint yourself with the word “Triggers” as it relates to PTSD. Example: G. I. Junior grows up in a Military or LEO family. “Dad” has a problem with anger issues, and abuses G. I. Junior mentally and psychologically for 10 years. G. I. Junior decides he has had enough of “Daddy Drill Sergeant” or “Daddy SWAT Team Member”, and joins the U.S. Army. Drill SGT decides to use G. I. Junior as a verbal punching bag, just because he feels like it. This causes G. I. Junior to have a psychotic break, and goes off on Drill SGT like the Tasmanian Devil. Hence prolonged exposure to events that gave him PTSD as a child, TRIGGERED him into a flashback from growing up, and he flips out.

  26. Timothy Votaw March 16, 2022 at 11:34 pm

    Odd, how PTSD from actual combat and combat wounding have slipped in priorities since the broad expansion of PTSD definitions this past decade. Seems like being yelled at by a drill instructor, or being caused to undergo motivation or disciplinary proceedings for sub-standard performance on the job, now results in claims for PTSD. Or someone, witnessing a night time firefight going on miles away from behind a secure perimeter, filing for PTSD from the “experience”, while those of us IN that firefight are expected to just suck it up, and deal with it.

    But that certainly seems the case, in 2022.

    • Stuart March 17, 2022 at 9:27 am

      I see your point and agree with the logic.

      However, we as people can not determine who is effected by what experience and if that experience is scaled on a severity relationship to combat.

      Each person has a different reaction to stress, as you already are aware.

      However, ridiculous to us, their trauma might be just as valid, even though in our mind it is a lesser qualifier for PTS.

      • mike chace March 17, 2022 at 11:06 am

        Hit the nail on the head!! In no way does their experience diminish yours – no matter how big or small…..

    • John. March 17, 2022 at 10:17 am

      I agree I think that the term PTSD is so over used for life experiences it has watered down those truly affected by horrific experiences. This gentle generation complains of PTSD for things although at times stressful do not rise to the level of what one would consider a PTSD experience. My own experiences probably reach the PTSD bench mark but I then think others have seen much worse who am I’m to hoist the PTSD flag. Be safe my friends.

    • Eric Barrett March 17, 2022 at 10:32 am

      I certainly agree.

    • Paul C. Smith March 17, 2022 at 12:02 pm

      You make a good point. As a VA Counselor, actually Peer Support Specialist, many Veterans have come to me to talk about their shame and regret at not joining in the fight, and living with survivor’s guilt. It seems there are no good outcomes for people in/around combat.
      Thank you for being one who fought, and I hope you get all the recovery and compensation you can handle.

  27. mary March 16, 2022 at 10:20 pm

    Overall trauma equal an all – day remembrance making everyday situations a repeat event .

  28. Denney Bridges March 16, 2022 at 10:14 pm

    Prolonged Exposure made my PTSD symptoms much worse, give a a lot of thought to it before you accept this treatment.

  29. JAMES MICHAEL WEAVER March 16, 2022 at 10:00 pm

    It is about time this becomes a therapy method used by the VA. I have been using this to treat the troops for years. Now the question is, Will the VA provide enough one on one time with the therapist to be effective. This takes more time than I have ever known the VA to dedicate to a patient.

  30. nathaniel cohen March 16, 2022 at 9:53 pm

    NO! the problem is I don’t want to remember. bay pines vamc said I was highly allergic to their meds and I won’t talk about those. what the hell do you know? you weren’t there.

  31. Linden A Allman March 16, 2022 at 9:50 pm

    after being diagnosed with ptsd after operation iraqi freedom, and spending 5 years having to drink myself to sleep every night, i was finally given sleep meds and a nightmare pill that i have taken now for 14 years, paperwork was put in for my ptsd compention, but i never got it,, some dr i never saw rediagnosed me without any explaination, my dr at the VA clinic never understood it either,, but at least with my meds i can sleep without waking up in cold sweats every night, but i still don’t think its right that i was faulsly rediagnosed by a dr i never saw

  32. jerry bouck March 16, 2022 at 9:46 pm

    Thank you. – Jerry

  33. Robert Hutchens March 16, 2022 at 9:20 pm

    I tried that for years, and just developed many more additional triggers to PTSD from people always on the attack, and trying to take advantage that really were messing with me. In my situation, it made it worse. The VA is behind my own personal experiences.

  34. Clayton bush March 16, 2022 at 9:14 pm

    I have been suffering with PTSD for years. Low energy, nerve pain, joint pain, anger, sadness, depression, emotional trauma, isolation, almost minimum human contact othe than family and friends and even family and friends was almost none existing. Finally starting to move and be around crowds, people, places, and working on my patience, health. My Son’s Mother owns a business and I have been trying to do few hours helping the family business. Being around the family in a worldly setting is helping free my mind. I don’t feel so closed in and with positive vibes, spiritual healing in the form of worship,and music I can see changes to my overall mental state. Exercising my muscles, stretching, some physical activity is showing sines of improvement, but my internal being is still under tremendous stress. I deal with high fatigue and headaches. I have stayed away from people for far to long and the outside air is healing to my soul. I am standing writing this in disbelief that after so many years I can actually see what has been my issues completely. Taking ownership of my situation and doing my best to stay positive and a good man and father. Happy to be alive on this day and I thank the VA and all it’s providers for all the services they do for those indeed. I seen an chopper get hit on CNN and it felt like I was hit. I’ve tried to cut scenes and horrible depictions of war off but you can not run from what it all around you. Lately I’ve tried to endure the imagery and become more comfortable but that doesn’t at times help my blood pressure. I see the connections to my trauma really clear and I will say I can do this. I am a strong man and the army gave me fight to endure what is at hand for me. I want to be someone who can show others it is possible to live again truly. Don’t close yourself off to the world. It only makes you weaker inside and kills the soul. Joy comes when peace is at hand and we all must do our best to carry on. Thank you guys for what you do daily for others and thank GOD we have people who still care about us.✌️

  35. C Hill March 16, 2022 at 9:11 pm

    PE doesn’t work. That’s like saying ECT works. There are so many other effective treatments; EMDR, peer groups, Rec therapy, etc. stuck in the past with old theories that are not effective, that’s the VA.

    • Helen Burley March 17, 2022 at 11:28 am

      I agree. When will va get out of 19th century. Please let’s start making progress…Iam afraid for my life. I am trying to cope but only alcohol seems to help. Spouse living with PTSD veteran. Nothing seems to help. Not even lock down.

  36. ROGER WOODMAN March 16, 2022 at 9:02 pm

    Thank Steve R Thorp Ph.D. who started the program in San Diego. This was about 14 or 15 years ago.
    I was in the trial group before it became a full program. I did a lot of things that were not fun at the start, but my life is a lot better after I finished the program. The gains that I made are long lasting, as I finished 14 years ago.
    This is not a sit and talk program, you have to provide the effort on your end.
    Roger

  37. Conrad Cool March 16, 2022 at 8:23 pm

    Next month I’ll have been married for 50 years! Now that is prolonged exposure!

    • T March 17, 2022 at 12:23 pm

      Made me chuckle – thanks!

  38. Ron Nelson March 16, 2022 at 8:21 pm

    I’m sure I’m not alone in that the idea of “facing” these memories makes me shudder! Maybe it works but it instills a fear that is in many ways scarier then combat!

  39. Aaron Butterfield March 16, 2022 at 8:07 pm

    My name is Aaron Butterfield. I am a recently retired Army vet and I would like to get back into treatment. I relocated from Tennessee to Northern Virgina and I plan on moving again in a few months so I don’t want to open this can of worms just yet. After I move I will have more stability and get back into getting help. I would like to know how to enroll in VA healthcare in Hampton Virginia soI can maybe schedule an appointment soon after I get there. Thanks

  40. Joseph Neal Harris March 16, 2022 at 8:05 pm

    I am glad these veterans appeared to show improvement in their condition.
    I have tried one-on-one therapy twice and it ended badly for me both times. Once I tried it for over six months. It seemed very intrusive to me and I became mostly non-functional. I have been in Group therapy for a period of years until the VA discontinued these ongoing groups. I have attended a weekly support group sponsored by the VFW for three years now. In this group there is no requirement for me to say ” Yes, I have improved.” We all know this and attendance is very good. We obviously get something from these meetings that is illusive to us and the VA since the V A discounted such groups three years ago. I guess we all know the buttons not to push with each other unlike those not afflicted with PTSD. At least it provides us some social interaction that some of us would not otherwise have. We are mostly 100% disabled with PTSD. I appreciate that the VA continues to reach out to us even though the treatment does not work for us all.
    Thank you for doing that.
    Joe Harris

  41. Jim Janssen March 16, 2022 at 8:04 pm

    It does NOT work.

  42. Kenneth Potts March 16, 2022 at 8:03 pm

    I am a Combat Medic, who served three tours in Iraq; 05-06, 07-08, 09-10. I have PTSD, and I’m curious as to how this can help me.

  43. Stephen Brown March 16, 2022 at 7:41 pm

    PE has helped me!
    It is hard at first! But hang in there, it gets better, I’m a combat veteran have had ptsd for 38 years!
    Operation Urgent Fury///
    DRF #1
    307 Engineer Btln
    82nd Airborne

    I highly recommend this///

  44. JESSE J REALMO March 16, 2022 at 7:34 pm

    B#LL SH#T…………………………SUFFERING FROM PTSD IS SO SEVERE OLDER VETS WILL LIKELYBE PUT ON A MEDICATION CALLED METOPROLOL SUCCINATE 50MG SA TABS LIKE I WAS OVER 40 YRS AGO. MY DOCTOR AT THAT TIME WAS DR. HURWITZ. SHE TOLD ME THAT A STUDY HAS BEEN MADE ON VETERANS SUFFERING FROM PTSD & ARE GETTING OLDER. THIS STUDY HAS FOUND OUT THAT OLDER VETS DEVELOP A CONDITION WHERE THEIR HEART BEATS FASTER THEN NORMAL & THIS MEDICATION SLOWS IT DOWN CONSIDERATELY. ONE MIGHT THINK AT 1ST GLANCE THAT THIS DOCTOR IS A LIFE-SAVER BUT REALLY SHE WAS A BITCH. SHE REFUSED TO PUT IN MY MEDICAL FILE THIS DISCOVERY SO I CAN THEN FILE A CLAIM FOR DISABILITY. NO MATTER HOW HARD I TRIED TO GET HER TO BE TRUTHFUL SHE REFUSED SHE ACTED LIKE THIS NEVER HAPPEN YET I’M STILL TAKING THIS MEDICATION EVERYDAY FOR THE PASS 40 YRS PLUS
    IF I AM ASKED WHETHER I TRUST THE VA HOSPITAL THE ANSWER IS ZERO. SO ALL THESE STUDIES BEING MADE ABOUT HOW THOSE SUFFERING FROM PTSD CAN LIVE A BETTER LIFE ARE JUST HORSE SHT………………………..

    • Alan Burch March 17, 2022 at 5:23 pm

      So, you have an Arrhythmia Disorder you believe is caused by service-connected PTSD? And has VA done EP Studies, Stress Tests and imaging to rule out heart disease or heart abnormality? This interests me greatly as I too suffer from an unexplained Arrhythmia, heart rates as high as 260’s). I’ve had all kinds of heart studies done and they can’t seem to figure out what’s causing it. I’ve suffered from Depression, Anxiety, etc. One Doctor says I have PTSD and the other says I’m lacking one of the “criteria”. What do I know? I experience what I experience and I’m not making another up just to get a diagnosis. Diagnosing me with it isn’t going to help fix it. Anyways, was put on Metoprolol (after suffering through several other heart meds) and it helps a little. But at no time has any VA Doctor ever linked this my trouble with PTSD. That’s very odd. You’d think, after all these years and ruling out a medical cause, they’d just admit it’s linked to PTSD.

  45. Hark williamson March 16, 2022 at 7:19 pm

    Yet the va won’t compensate you for it ….smdh

  46. Nick Logan March 16, 2022 at 7:06 pm

    This was the worse PTSD Program I ever experienced. I became more suicidal and depressed throughout the treatment.

  47. Forrest W Byers March 16, 2022 at 6:47 pm

    What about PTSD and Brain Injury, each 100%and they dovetail ?

  48. Ron Sebastian March 16, 2022 at 6:39 pm

    Please let me know when the VA gets to approving magic mushrooms. I understand they could also be useful in treating PTSD symptoms.

  49. Ernie Paul Young March 16, 2022 at 6:28 pm

    Bull, you people don’t even know how to evaluate PTSD nor do you know how to treat it. You don’t listen to those you treat about what helps and what does not. If you never had it you have no clue. It is a life long injury one must live with on the right medication. I so sick of the BS you all keep spreading about cures or helps. I’m so saddened that the VA will not listen and are to quick to make stupid assumptions as to one’s mental status. And, sometimes you just can’t say what really happened because what you say is not truly private. Just tell the truth and they will hang you out to dry. This article is so full of BS it’s not even amusing.

  50. Brian Stoll, USA, LTC, Retired March 16, 2022 at 6:12 pm

    PE almost caused my suicide, and the death of another. I was so severely triggered that there was no talking me down. Several people tried to talk to me, while others tried to subdue me. I was quite manic, up until I dropped from sheer exhaustion. In my opinion, as a multiple combat-tour veteran, it is dangerous and harmful. I eventually found relief through alternative methods, namely EFT, or Emotional Freedom Techniques. These treatments are substantiated and effective. But the VA and military psyche professionals are too tied to big pharma to admit they are hurting service members.

  51. Stephen Gibbons March 16, 2022 at 6:01 pm

    I went through Prolonged Exposure and was not sure it would work or help in anyway. I was sooooo wrong. Prolonged exposure allowed me to take the monkey off my back and realize the light at the end of the tunnel was not a freight train but the opening to a new life that I could take control of

  52. Sandra A Benge March 16, 2022 at 5:59 pm

    Sounds like crap on the veteran again. Keep your crap!

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