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Shot In Neck May Combat PTSD Symptoms

Aired 12/28/11 on KPBS News.

A shot in the neck could improve symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

— An innovative treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is being tested at Naval Medical Center San Diego.

Shot In Neck May Combat PTSD Symptoms

About 40 active- duty service members have volunteered to get an injection of anesthesia in their necks. They are participating in a three-month pilot study on PTSD.

Naval doctors believe the anesthetic may work like a nerve block to turn off triggers that cause anxiety, hyper-stimulation, nightmares and other PTSD symptoms.

Promising results are shown after the first week of treatment.

“ People seem more calm, less jumpy, less likely to have nightmares. They are able to sleep more easily,” said Dr. Robert McLay, director of mental-health research at Naval Medical Center San Diego.

The benefits last for about a month and require re-injection to be effective.

But, McLay warns the shot is not a “cure-all.” If it proves effective, he said, it would be used in combination with other therapies.

“The most important thing is to get into treatment, because whether it’s this shot or something else, there are effective treatments out there for PTSD,” said McLay

The shot was discovered accidentally when Chicago anesthesiologist Dr. Eugene Lipov noticed improvement in PTSD symptoms while treating veterans for chronic pain in 2008.

Military doctors estimate as many as one-third of combat vets suffer from PTSD.

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