Emotional trauma can be difficult to identify and treat. It can seep into our everyday lives, impact our decisions, and can trigger depressive episodes or be the cause of other long-term disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Here at Crownview Co-Occurring Institute, we work with those who have experienced a traumatic event and those who live with severe PTSD. Alongside talk therapy and educational programs designed to provide our clients with the skills they need to return to their daily life, we also use a variety of medicinal treatments. This includes the stellate ganglion block (SGB).
What Is Stellate Ganglion Block?
The goal of the SGB is to provide relief from symptoms such as continual sleep disturbance, surges of anxiety and irritability, difficulty concentrating, jumpiness, and other life-altering symptoms of anxiety disorders. These symptoms are very common in those who suffer from numerous anxiety disorders, including PTSD.
Using image-guided techniques, one of our highly trained doctors injects a local anesthetic into the stellate ganglion. This cluster of nerves is found at the base of the neck and is a part of the sympathetic nervous system. These nerves, when stimulated, prepare the organism for stress by increasing its heart rate, increasing blood flow to the muscles, and decreasing flow to the skin. By injecting the local anesthetic into this cluster of nerves, we can relieve symptoms of anxiety and PTSD and provide a restored sense of safety to our clients.
Stellate Ganglion Block and PTSD
PTSD is a life-altering disorder that can be debilitating to live with. The sympathetic nervous system is known to play a part in PTSD. Some believe that extreme trauma can cause physical changes to this system, leading to PTSD symptoms that may persist for years.
This mental disorder can develop in individuals who have lived through a shocking, dangerous, or traumatic event. These events can be violent or traumatic (such as being physically attacked or being in a car crash), but they do not have to be. Unexpected life events, such as the sudden death of a loved one, can also lead to PTSD. Symptoms usually begin early, within three months of the traumatic incident, and may last for years.
These symptoms are often disruptive to the lives of those who live with it and cause significant medical, interpersonal, and social impairment. There are various treatments available for PTSD, including psychotherapy and medicine. SGB has shown to be effective for those who have not fully responded to conventional therapies.
Anyone can develop PTSD at any age. To be fully diagnosed with PTSD, an adult must have the following for at least one month:
- At least one re-experiencing symptom, such as a flashback, bad dreams, or frightening thoughts
- One avoidance symptom, such as avoiding thoughts or feelings related to the traumatic event or avoiding objects, events, or places that they may associate with the event
- At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms, such as being easily startled, feeling tense and on edge, having difficulty sleeping, and experiencing angry outbursts
- At least two cognition and mood symptoms, such as trouble remembering the traumatic event, negative thoughts about oneself or the world, distorted feelings like guilt or blame, or a loss of interest in enjoyable activities
There are many first-line treatments for PTSD, such as psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of the two. However, there have been several challenges identified in the effectiveness of these treatments. Some barriers for those with PTSD include concerns about the treatment, a lack of emotional readiness for treatment, stigma, and logistical difficulties. SGB provides an alternative and innovative approach to improving the health and well-being of PTSD. Some of the proposed benefits include:
- Destigmatizing treatment by offering a physical treatment for PTSD management: Many are reluctant to rely on psychotherapy or medication to treat their symptoms. For some individuals, the knowledge that they are undergoing a procedure to treat their mental illness can validate the severity of their PTSD without robbing them of their agency.
- Offering a fast-acting treatment alternative with improvements reported within minutes to days of the procedure: As mentioned above, there can be a reluctance to rely on medication or psychotherapy alone. Often, the reluctance stems from the time this treatment takes. Clients may not feel as though they can wait for several weeks for treatment to begin effect.
- Offering a treatment that does not require continuous daily or weekly administration: SGB may reduce symptoms of PTSD for at least a few weeks. This removes the necessity for patients to take daily or weekly dosages of medications to control their PTSD symptoms.
Is Stellate Ganglion Block Right for You?
Only an accurate diagnosis and discussion with a medical professional can truly answer this question. Here at Crownview Co-Occurring Institute, we work with our clients to ensure that the corrected diagnosis is provided so that we can provide the best possible treatment. We’ve worked with many individuals over the years, and in some cases, psychotherapy, medication, and a focus on life skills have been enough to help someone recover. In those cases where additional help was needed, we found SGB treatment to be effective, especially in those struggling with severe PTSD symptoms.
It may be difficult for a client to take that initial step themselves. It is important to remember that you can get better, although it may take some time. With the help of psychotherapy, medication, and long-term treatment, we at CCI will do our best to help all of our clients to take control of their lives in a way that caters to their individual needs.
If you or a loved one has been experiencing life-altering symptoms of PTSD, then the stellate ganglion block may be right for you. Call us today at 855-616-1095 for more information.