Treatment for PTSD can come in many forms. I often speak to Veterans who are involved in group counseling, outpatient treatment, and many other traditional types of treatment. While working (ok, playing) on Facebook yesterday, I noticed a post by the Fayetteville VAMC that reminded me of a non-traditional method I had forgotten about…pet therapy.
Granted, I am one of the 5 people in the world who doesn’t like animals, but I believe in this type of rehabilitation. I decided to do a little research on this topic and was surprised to find information on the VA website. According to the VA, Some people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) find that service dogs or emotional support dogs help them manage PTSD symptoms. The VA is quick to note that studies of the effectiveness of this type of PTSD treatment are still in their early stages.
But, how does it work? After all, I have only known dogs to tear up furniture and make messes. Well, it’s actually quite interesting. The VA website states that dogs make good friends, can help reduce stress, and will help bring out feelings of love. They also mentioned that a dog will help a Veteran with PTSD get outdoors. This aspect is something I hadn’t really thought of, but it makes perfect sense. Veterans with high levels of PTSD are often withdrawn and don’t go out of their houses much. This is a great way to get a Veteran in a new setting. Also, from my personal experience, dog owners really like other dog owners. So, the argument could be made that owning a dog is a great way to meet other people.
Does it actually work? Like I mentioned earlier, there is not a lot of evidence to support the effectiveness of dogs on Veterans with PTSD. However, there are some studies that show it works. For instance, a 2009 survey found that 82% of participants with a PTSD diagnosis report symptom reduction after partnership with a Psychiatric Service Dog. Another 40% report that their use of medication has decreased subsequent to the human-canine partnership.
On a personal note, I met a Veteran with severe PTSD at our company’s annual Veterans Day cookout. He shared his personal story of how his dogs have helped him cope with his issues. He went on to say that his dogs were often the only thing he can turn to in his darkest hours.
If you are curious about filing a VA disability claim for PTSD or would like to know more about our services, give us a call today for a free consultation. 1-877-526-3457. Or, fill out this form and I will give you a call.