Non-pharmaceutical, physical treatments have been investigated as alternative treatments for PTSD. These include transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), acupuncture, and exercise. Click on the tabs below to access the evidence, or navigate through the topics via the drop-down menu on the left.

Image: ©


What is acupuncture for PTSD? Acupuncture is practiced as an accepted health care model in China, Korea and Japan. Traditionally, it involves the stimulation of specific points (acupoints) by inserting needles into the skin. Electro-acupuncture is similar in that the same points are stimulated with needles inserted on specific points along the body. It uses two needles attached to an electrical device that generates continuous electric pulses. These pass from one needle to the other with varying frequency and intensity dictated by the condition. Administration is usually for no more than 30 minutes at a time. Laser acupuncture is essentially…


What is biofeedback for PTSD? Biofeedback is a technique where information about the person’s body is fed back to them so that they can be trained to alter their body’s conditions. Physical therapists use biofeedback to help stroke victims regain movement in paralyzed muscles. Other specialists use biofeedback to help their patients cope with pain. It is also commonly used to reduce stress and anxiety, and to encourage relaxation. Electromyographic biofeedback is used by psychologists to help anxious patients learn to relax. The electromyograph picks up electrical signals in the muscles and translates these signals into a flashing light or…


How is exercise relevant for PTSD? People with serious mental illnesses are more likely to be sedentary than the general population. This can lead to chronic medical conditions associated with inactivity. Physical activity reduces the risk of these medical conditions, and positive psychological effects have also been reported, including improved quality of life. Exercise also has the potential to alleviate secondary symptoms including depression, low self-esteem and social withdrawal. What is the evidence for the effectiveness of exercise for people with PTSD? Moderate to high quality evidence found a medium-sized effect of improved PTSD symptoms following physical activity (pre-post analysis)….

Hyperbaric oxygen

What is hyperbaric oxygen therapy for PTSD? Hyperbaric oxygen is used to treat traumatic brain injury and post-concussion symptoms. It increases the amount of oxygen dissolved in the blood and increases oxygen delivery to tissues. Oxygen is the active ingredient which is titrated in a manner similar to dosing a drug. The dose is dependent on the amount of oxygen in the gas being breathed multiplied by the absolute atmospheric pressure inside the hyperbaric chamber, and also the duration and frequency of the treatment. Hyperbaric oxygen may improve PTSD symptoms in people with both PTSD and traumatic brain injury. What…

Transcranial magnetic stimulation

What is transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for PTSD? Repetitive TMS (rTMS) is a non-invasive method used to stimulate nerve cells in superficial layers of the brain. Control comparisons include ‘sham’ rTMS, which may involve tilting the stimulation coil against the scalp by 45 or 90 degrees, thus reducing the degree of brain stimulation, or use of a “placebo” coil of identical appearance. These placebo methods usually involve a ‘click’ noise but no magnetic field and no twitching sensation on the scalp. Comparison groups can also receive active rTMS applied to other brain regions. What is the evidence for the effectiveness…

NeuRA Libraries

Title Colour Legend:
Green - Topic summary is available.
Orange - Topic summary is being compiled.
Red - Topic summary has no current systematic review available.