Please note that Internet Explorer is incompatible with this site.

We recommend upgrading to the latest Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, or Firefox.

Skip to Main Content

Neurosurgery & Brain Repair

Center of Excellence for Aging & Brain Repair

Complementary therapies for Post-Traumatic-Stress


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disa bling anxiety disorder that may occur after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. The difference between someone who feels stress after a traumatic event and someone who dev elops PTSD is that the person with PTSD will continue to re-experience the upsetting memories of the event and these memories lead to other symptoms that do not resolve and can become debilitating. The range of PTSD symptoms can include:

  1. Reliving the trauma in nightmares, vivid memories or flashbacks
  2. Being upset by things that remind you of the traumatic event
  3. Becoming emotionally and physically cut-off from others
  4. Loss of interest in things you used to care about
  5. Trouble concentrating
  6. Being hyper-alert and easily startled
  7. Being constantly irritated
  8. Having difficulty sleeping
  9. Increased reliance on alcohol and drugs

There are a number of treatments for PTSD, the most widely accepted being Prolonged Exposure (PE) therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). All of these involve reliving the trauma under supervision of a mental health professional. While these treatments can be effective, they are time intensive and costly with a variable success rate. In recent years there has been a move to find alternative or complementary treatments that could provide therapeutic benefit specifically to veterans or active-duty service personnel. The Willing laboratory has an active research program examining the potential efficacy of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for treating PTSD.