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Therapy for PTSD

Therapy for PTSD

If you’ve lived through a trauma, even if you weren’t physically harmed, you know how you feel sometimes. A slamming door may remind you of a car accident, a firecracker, of a gunshot. However, if these feelings become overwhelming or affect your mood for extended periods of time, you may be suffering from PTSD.


Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident,  or other dangerous situations that a person lives through, either with or without being injured.  PTSD does not necessarily result from the event itself, but how a person is able to deal with or process what has happened to them. When a person is unable to cope with an event(s), the results manifest as mental trauma. The American Psychiatric Association notes the condition’s long history, even before it was officially recognized in 1980. Over the years, it has been referred to by many names, like “shell shock” during World War I and “combat fatigue” following World War II.  Regardless of the name used, PTSD can happen to anyone at any age.


According to some studies, PTSD affects about 3.5 percent of U.S. adults each year, and an estimated one in 11 people can expect a PTSD diagnosis in their lifetime. Women get PTSD twice as often as men. Three ethnic groups – African Americans, American Indians, and U.S. Latinos – are overly affected and show higher rates of posttraumatic stress disorder than whites of non-Latino heritage. Despite mainstream media reports, PTSD affects more than just U.S. combat veterans.


If you believe you’re suffering from PTSD, the best way to find out is through an exam. In most cases, this is accomplished through a psychiatric evaluation from a mental health professional. Diagnosis are characterized by comparing your symptoms with criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. Once diagnosed, the goal is to treat the root cause of the problem.  This entails finding resolution or emotional acceptance of the event(s). There are many types of treatment for PTSD, but none of them work as rapidly as integrated ketamine infusion therapy.


Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals use different effective and research-validated therapies to help people suffering from symptoms of PTSD. Although there are many effective treatments, they are often tailored based on factors like overall mental and physical health, the duration and severity of the symptoms, and willingness to try certain treatment options. Here are several choices to ask about.

  • Ketamine was introduced in the early 1960s and used primarily as an anesthetic. Because of its safety profile, it gained widespread acceptance and popularity during field trials on wounded U.S. combat troops fighting in Southeast Asia. Soon afterward, doctors, scientists, and private citizens discovered its other curative powers, including ketamine’s ability to treat the symptoms of PTSD and chronic pain which didn’t respond to previous treatment. Today, ketamine is used with great success to treat PTSD.  When combined with integration, we are seeing prolonged effects.


  • Cognitive Processing Therapy, which focuses on changing painful negative emotions which may include shame, guilt, and many others, and beliefs that can lead to stress, like “I am a failure”; “the world is unsafe” and caused by a traumatic event. Doctors or clinicians help the person face such distressing emotions and memories and return to productive everyday living.


  • Prolonged Exposure Therapy, which uses recurring, detailed envisioning of the trauma or liberal exposures to symptom prompts in a secure, controlled manner to confront and gain control of distress and fear and build valuable coping mechanisms. As an example of technological advancements, virtual reality programs are now utilized to assist war veterans with PTSD to re-experience the battlefield in a regulated, therapeutic way.


  • Stress Inoculation Therapy has the goal of arming someone affected by PTSD with the required coping skills to effectively defend against stress triggers through the application of milder levels of stress, like how a person is inoculated to prohibit infection following exposure to an illness.


  • Ketamine is sometimes combined with other forms of psychotherapy, like group therapy. Group therapy helps survivors of comparable traumatic incidents to disclose their experiences and responses in a non-judgmental and comfortable setting. Group members help each other realize that many people would have the same responses and experience the same emotions. 


  • The National Center for PTSD has also reported on other complementary therapies for PTSD, like relaxation, meditation, and acupuncture. Before starting therapy, it’s critical to ask about risks and benefits for each and choose one you’re comfortable with.


PTSD is a serious mental health condition affecting thousands of people in the U.S., and many more worldwide. If you experience symptoms, get help by talking to your doctor or seek a mental healthcare professional, research the benefits of ketamine as a therapy, or contact Advanced Wellness and Pain today to schedule a complimentary consultation. 

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James T. Leathem, DO

Dr. James Leathem is a board-certified anesthesiologist and a member of the American Society of Anesthesiologists. He was born and raised in Connecticut and graduated from Florida Southern College with a bachelor of science in marketing management with minors in sociology and communications. He obtained his medical degree from Midwestern University’s Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed his residency in anesthesiology at Michigan State University and its affiliated McLaren Greater Lansing Hospital.

In 2015, after residency, Dr. Leathem returned to Arizona to practice anesthesiology. He joined Red Mountain Anesthesiologists and worked primarily at Banner Baywood Medical Center in Mesa, performing 100% of his own cases. He was made partner in the group after demonstrating 3 years of anesthesia excellence and administering over 4,000 anesthetics. In 2019, a corporate change occurred and an opportunity presented itself in which he was able to transition out of the hospital to surgery center and clinic-based anesthesia.

Dr. Leathem realizes that the only constant in life is change. In 2020, amidst the global pandemic, his career took a different direction. This change led him to collaborate with Dr. Wong and Dr. Sharma and they founded Advanced Wellness and Pain (AWAP). Their mission is to provide a variety of state-of-the-art procedural services that improve patients’ quality of life and overall physical and mental well-being.

Dr. Leathem believes that we are all a work in progress and that each day, one should strive to make positive changes in their life. He is here to help empower each patient on their journey to be their best self and live their best life. When you are being cared for by Dr. Leathem, you can be assured that he will give you his undivided attention and time.

Gregory Wong, MD

Dr. Wong is a Board-Certified Anesthesiologist and a member of both the American Society of Anesthesiology and the Arizona Society of Anesthesiology. He did his undergraduate training at the University of California at Davis, Davis, California; doctorate training at The University of Health Sciences of the Chicago Medical School, North Chicago, IL; and his post-doctoral training at the Integrated Program at the University of Arizona, Phoenix, AZ. He has spent his whole 24-year career practicing in Arizona.

Dr. Wong grew up in the Bay Area of California. He is married and is raising three daughters. At the early age of 12 years old, he knew he wanted to become a physician. His love of the human spirit, intrigue of human physiology, and compassion for human suffering led him to the path of anesthesiology and pain medicine.

Today, Dr. Wong realizes patients need a holistic biophysical-mental-spiritual care. This philosophy has brought him to the studies of regenerative medicine and infusion therapies. He has firsthandily witnessed the overwhelming success of these therapies for treating chronic pain and depression and the return of patients of “life-functionality.”

“There has never been a time more important than now to advocate for our patients in these difficult times. We owe it to our patients to offer these state-of-the-art treatment modalities that weren’t available before.”

Deepak Sharma, MD, MBA

Dr. Sharma is a Board Certified Anesthesiologist and a member of the American Society of Anesthesiologists. He completed three degrees at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA: a Bachelor in Finance, a Master in Business Administration, and a Doctor of Medicine. He went on to complete residency at the Mount Sinai Morningside-West Hospital System in New York, NY and post-graduate fellowship at Stanford Medical Center in Palo Alto, CA.

Dr. Sharma is committed to treating his patients as a whole with a comprehensive biophysical-mental-spiritual approach. He is a lifelong learner and is constantly researching cutting-edge therapies backed by scientific studies. He has taken a particular interest in regenerative and infusion therapies after witnessing firsthand their significant benefits on those suffering from chronic pain and depression. In his free time, Dr. Sharma enjoys spending time with his family and friends, hiking, traveling, reading, and meditation.

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