To the Editor:

Re “Tackling PTSD, With Sharks and Yoga” (news article, Sept. 18):

Physical exercise releases chemicals in the brain that have long been recognized by therapists as improving the mood of patients in the days between therapy sessions. Scuba diving as described seems to have added benefits. For some veterans, these exercises become their only treatment.

The exposure and behavioral therapies used by the V.A. have limitations and often turn off veterans. They have been recognized by the military and the V.A. as unable to prevent suicidal behavior in combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Modern psychodynamic therapy, which recognizes the role of the unconscious in influencing behavior, has been defined succinctly as “enabling the therapist to know the patient, not just the diagnosis.”

Research has shown evidence of its being able to prevent suicidal behavior in veterans of the Vietnam War who had been treated with behavioral therapy and medication without success.

It has also been shown to be successful in treating civilian patients with a variety of conditions with the added benefit of having the patient continue to improve after the therapy is completed.

The V.A. should embrace psychodynamic therapy and make it available to veterans.

HERBERT HENDIN

Chief Executive and Medical Director

Suicide Prevention Initiatives

New York

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