The Benefits of HBOT for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is often linked to war or combat. However, this mental health condition is triggered by other traumatic events, including the death of a loved one, sexual assault, automobile accidents, or surviving natural disasters.
Fortunately, there are several treatments of medication and psychotherapy that can help. Thanks to medical advancements, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is one such treatment showing plenty of promise.

PTSD Symptoms and Traditional Treatment Options

It is common to experience severe anxiety or nightmares after going through a traumatic event. While some people can process their traumas, the symptoms of those with PTSD tend to worsen over time.
There are four main types of PTSD symptoms. They include:

  • Avoidance: You will try to avoid thinking or talking about the event. You might even avoid places, things, and people that remind you of the event.
  • Memories: You might experience flashbacks from the event. Daily events or images might bring back memories, causing severe physical or emotional reactions.
  • Changes in Emotional and Physical Reactions: You might become aggressive, irritable, or engage in self-destructive behaviors.
  • Changes in Thinking and Mood: You might begin to feel pessimistic about yourself and your future. Some patients even find it difficult to maintain relationships.

Traditional Treatments for PTSD

Traditional treatments aim to address the symptoms associated with PTSD while helping patients learn how to cope with the trauma. These treatments include medication and psychotherapy.
When it comes to medication, there is no one-prescription-fits-all fix. Treatment involves a trial-and-error approach with doctors prescribing various anti-anxiety drugs and antidepressants.
As for psychotherapy, there are various options:

  • Exposure Therapy: The treatment helps you face your trauma by exposing you to it in a safe environment through virtual reality, mental stimulation, or writing, helping you become less vulnerable to the event.
  • Stress Inoculation Training: This therapy helps reduce your anxiety levels by arming you with coping skills that enable you to develop new ways of reacting to stress.
  • Cognitive Therapy: Your therapist works with you to understand your trauma, helping you change your behavioral and thinking responses to the trauma.
  • Present-Centered Therapy: This type of therapy does not focus directly on your trauma. It teaches you problem-solving skills that will help you deal with the traumatic event.

Over the years, PTSD patients have used a combination of psychotherapy and prescription medications to help them deal with past traumas. While this approach has had success, more and more patients are including hyperbaric oxygen therapy in their treatment.

What Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

HBOT is a treatment that involves breathing almost pure oxygen in special, pressurized hyperbaric oxygen chambers. Though it might sound new to you, it is an established method of treating decompression sickness — a potential scuba diving risk.

A Brief History

The first hyperbaric chamber was built in 1662 when a physician constructed a sealed room with a series of valves and bellows. However, it was not until the 1940s when HBOT became the country’s standard treatment for military divers.
Today, the FDA has approved hyperbaric oxygen therapy as a treatment for thirteen conditions, with more and more people urging for further approvals.

How It Works

For your body tissues to function, they need an adequate supply of oxygen. If your tissue is injured, it needs even more oxygen to repair itself. HBOT increases the amount of oxygen your blood can carry.
The air pressure in the chamber increases up to three times higher than usual. These conditions allow your lungs to gather more oxygen than they would if you were inhaling pure oxygen at standard air pressure levels.
Your blood then carries this extra oxygen, spreading it throughout your body to stimulate the release of stem cells and growth factors that promote healing.

While hyperbaric oxygen therapy is mainly used for diving-related illnesses, it can also be used for wound care or wound healing, as well as treating bubbles of air in your blood vessels. You can also apply it to non-healing wounds like diabetic foot ulcers.
Other conditions hyperbaric oxygen therapy can treat include:

  • Burns
  • Brain abscess
  • Severe anemia
  • Carbon dioxide poisoning
  • Sudden deafness
  • Sudden vision loss
  • Skin or bone infections that cause tissue death
  • Gangrene
  • Traumatic brain injuries


What to Expect During and After Your HBOT Treatment

During Your Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Treatment

Only specific medical professionals can administer or prescribe HBOT. While the treatment is usually performed as an outpatient procedure, it can also be done in a hospital. The therapy often lasts about two hours for most conditions, with the medical team monitoring everything during the process.
There are two types of chambers — an individual unit and a multiperson hyperbaric oxygen room. Whether you opt for the individual or multiperson unit, the benefits of the treatment are the same.
An individual unit is a chamber designed for one person. Here, you will lie down on a table that slides into a plastic enclosure.
In a multiperson hyperbaric oxygen room, you either receive the oxygen through a transparent, lightweight hood placed over your head or a mask placed over your face. With this type of chamber, you have the option of lying or sitting down.
Since the pressure is up to three times higher than normal air pressure, you will experience a temporary feeling of fullness in your ears. You can easily relieve this feeling by swallowing or yawning.

After Your Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Treatment

After your session, the medical team will assess you, taking your pulse and blood pressure and looking in your ears. They might also check your blood glucose level if you have diabetes. Afterward, you are free to get dressed and leave.
Some patients report feeling hungry or tired after the treatment, but these minor effects will not limit your ability to perform everyday activities.

How Many Treatments Will You Need?

You will need more than one session to benefit fully from the treatment, but the exact number of treatments will depend on your condition.


Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for PTSD Patients

In recent years, different studies have analyzed the potential benefits of HBOT treatments for PTSD and traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients.
PTSD cases often include cases of traumatic brain injuries. Many suspect the development of post-traumatic stress disorder in such cases is connected to how much damage the brain sustains.
That said, there are cases where patients develop PTSD without TBIs. Here, neuro-imaging tests often reveal damage to some regions of the brain, including:

  • Altered activity in your brain’s insular cortex
  • Hypo activity of your hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis
  • Hippocampal atrophy

These are the areas in your brain responsible for distinguishing between unsafe and safe conditions. On top of that, they also control your brain’s fear conditioning, emotional and cognitive interaction, and interpretation of stimuli. If you have PTSD, all of these areas are usually abnormal.

A Case Study on the Effectiveness of HBOT on PTSD Patients

A study published in Medical Gas Research monitored 29 retired and active-duty military personnel with mild traumatic brain injuries. All participants in the study suffered from post-concussion syndrome, and some of them also had PTSD.
Upon completing 40 treatments, 52% of the participants who met the military’s PTSD diagnosis checklist no longer met the threshold. They experienced improvements in general depression, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms.
On top of that, from the 12 participants who expressed suicidal thoughts at the start, ten no longer had suicidal urges. According to the study’s results, participants experienced one of the most impressive reductions in PTSD symptoms in four weeks compared to other reported treatments.

Key Benefits of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for PTSD Patients

Thanks to the 100% oxygen HBOT treatments deliver, the therapy can help you:

  • Repair damaged brain tissue
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Improve blood flow
  • Promote the growth of new blood vessels and tissue

Additionally, there are other key benefits you can experience when you opt for HBOT treatments.

Reduction of Suicidal Thoughts

One of the most desirable benefits of HBOT treatment for PTSD is the significant reduction of suicidal idealization. Thanks to the administration of this treatment, you can manage suicidal thoughts and achieve a more positive outlook on life.

Reduced Depression and Anxiety

Other health improvements of HBOT include significantly reduced depression and anxiety. You can ultimately improve your mindset along with increased memory performance.

State-of-the-Art Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Treatments

If you have PTSD and are curious about how HBOT can help your condition, reach out to NexGen Hyperbaric. Our clinics provide cutting-edge HBOT treatments for a wide range of medical conditions, including PTSD. Our goal is to make HBOT treatments accessible, helping all our patients improve their quality of life.
Contact NexGen Hyperbaric today at 888-567-4302 to get a detailed medical evaluation of your health needs and learn how our hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments can benefit your PTSD.