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Are you wondering what is the function of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatment for your loved ones? Whether it is insomnia, nightmares, flashbacks of traumatic events, low self-esteem, or emotional disturbances, treatments for PTSD are likely to be a long-term solution for your loved ones. 

But, what are the goals of trauma therapy? How do treatments for PTSD work? How to get rid of PTSD? Can it be cured? And if yes, then how to cure PTSD? If these questions have been clouding your mind endlessly, you are one article away from finding all the answers! Read ahead and explore all the details you need about therapeutic treatment for PTSD. 

Shadow on the wall of a plant.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 3.6% of the adult population in the U.S. is exposed to the risk of acquiring PTSD each year. 

With these statistics, it is fair to acknowledge that significant attention has been awarded to the studies concerning PTSD therapies and medicines for PTSD.

Mental Breakdown Symptoms

PTSD treatment can be administered in three ways: Behavioral therapy, neurological therapies, and pharmacotherapy (medications). 

Oftentimes, all three forms of treatments for PTSD are sustained in the long term and the short term for complete effectiveness. 

A PTSD treatment plan for you will be devised by a specialist and will most likely consist of: 

  1. Behavioral Therapies (Psychotherapies): Cognitive Processing Therapy, Prolonged Exposure Therapy, and Stress Inoculation Training. 
  2. Neuropsychological Therapy: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). 
  3. Pharmacotherapy (Drug Therapy for PTSD): SSRIs (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and SNRIs (Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors), along with a few other medications. 

In multiple cases, patients of PTSD can also practice alternative treatments for PTSD and some innovative forms of therapeutic approaches for PTSD. 

Despite the type of PTSD treatment plan, you need to remember that it is not impossible to manage and counter the symptoms of PTSD. It might require multiple PTSD counseling sessions, but you will return to find your life as it was before a life-changing trauma. 

Generally speaking, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy works as the talk therapy for PTSD to identify disturbing thoughts, emotions related to traumatic events, and the feelings that trigger extreme stress. 

Furthermore, your PTSD psychologist, as part of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for PTSD will attempt to replace these thoughts with positive memories. 

Even if your loved ones are in denial about being a subject of this life-altering mental health disorder, their PTSD therapist will find a way around their mind to identify, investigate, eliminate, and replace the thoughts that trigger stress-related behavior. 

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Cognitive therapy for PTSD is a mere aid for a trauma therapist to take multiple approaches to treat the disorder. 

Overall, there are three individual, behavioral therapeutic treatments that can be approached from a Cognitive therapy point of view for PTSD treatment. 

Cognitive Processing Therapy for PTSD Treatment

Cognitive Processing Therapy is a form of behavioral trauma therapy. It is an adaptation of Cognitive therapy for PTSD. 

So, what is the main principle of working for Cognitive Processing Therapy for PTSD? 

Cognitive Processing Therapy for PTSD centers on the belief that you might not have been able to completely process or understand the traumatic event after it took place. 

As time passes, you might jump to negative conclusions about the traumatic event and how it affected you. 

These unhealthy conclusions will be investigated by your PTSD psychologist while you are undergoing PTSD therapy. 

The question is, why is it so important to focus on these unhealthy thoughts and emotions during therapeutic treatment? 

Well, if you fail to acknowledge the effects of trauma immediately after the event, your brain might develop strategies to look at your surroundings in a defensive manner. 

In other words, you develop reflexes to protect yourself from further trauma. In doing so, you might begin viewing the world as a different place or you might become less indulgent in your relationships. 

Several times, your mind will play tricks on you to make you believe in bizarre facts. For instance, you might become convinced that nobody deserves your complete trust. 

Other people who are exposed to trauma and develop PTSD, start to imagine that they are to be blamed for the worst that happened. 

You might even feel “glued” to your self-defeating and demotivating thoughts. 

At this point, can Cognitive Processing Therapy reverse the damage? Yes! It can, indeed. 

CPT will serve as a tool to pick out every self-destructing thought your mind has established after being exposed to trauma. 

Your PTSD therapist, after identifying these outlooks and thoughts, will attempt to evaluate whether they are based on facts or if they are mere fabrications of your mind. 

Your trauma therapist will further find engaging ways to change your feelings and emotions about the trauma and determine a few healthy ways to look at the effects of the traumatic event. 

PTSD counseling with Cognitive Processing Therapy occurs in approximately 12 sessions, whereby each PTSD treatment session lasts for 30-60 minutes. The sessions might remain focused on talk therapy. In some trauma therapy sessions for PTSD treatment, you will be asked to write down your experience. 

Note: Recovery from trauma and PTSD treatment is prevented at the cognitive level. If your mind fails to acknowledge that you are ready to move on, you will never be able to do so. 

Prolonged Exposure Therapy for Traumatic Treatment

Prolonged Exposure Therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder is yet another adaptation of Cognitive-behavioral therapy for PTSD. 

During your treatment for PTSD, your trauma therapist will lean towards the possibility of exploring the option of Prolonged Exposure Therapy for PTSD if you have rational – or even irrational – fears about the experience. 

This form of therapy is also concerned with the aftermath of experiencing traumatic events, like Cognitive Processing Therapy. 

If your loved ones suffer from PTSD, it might not come as a surprise to you if they begin to deflect their triggers and escape from the fears that they have developed after facing a traumatic event. 

For that reason, your PTSD psychologist, during Prolonged Exposure Therapy, will educate you about the symptoms of PTSD. This is only so that you can develop the necessary coping skills to address those symptoms. 

Furthermore, your PTSD therapist will engage you in self-calming techniques during the trauma therapy. 

This factor of the Prolonged Exposure Therapy will enable you to fight the anxiety that comes with the pre-developed fear of your trauma. 

Remember that turning your back on your fears can only work in the short term. In the long term, this practice will keep you miles away from your recovery. 

Gradually, as the therapeutic treatment for PTSD proceeds, your PTSD therapist will ask you to recall the trauma-related memories. 

As you begin to confront each memory, you will learn to calm yourself and manage your PTSD symptoms. 

This treatment will help you battle your PTSD insomnia

Your therapist will keep you engaged to work on one memory exposure and will not move to the next until and unless you are completely ready and mentally equipped. 

So, what is the ultimate benefit of Prolonged Exposure Therapy? It allows you to willingly step into your world of trauma and fight the fears that have caused you to develop PTSD. 

It will take 8-15 therapeutic treatment sessions with your trauma therapist, with 90-120 minutes per session, to complete your PTSD treatment. 

Stress Inoculation Training for Traumatic Treatment

The definition of Stress Inoculation training serves to signify a subtype of Cognitive therapy for PTSD that has been developed to actively manage stress due to traumatic events. 

Alright, but how does Stress Inoculation Training work? Can PTSD be cured with it? 

Well, as a PTSD patient, you must know what it feels like to be in constant, hindering stress. Stress Inoculation Training works by analyzing which thoughts and emotions trigger stress-related behaviors

Once that milestone has been achieved, your PTSD psychologist will continue with your trauma therapy by building your coping mechanism to deal with different forms of stressful situations. 

The three phases of therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder are:

  • Phase I: During this phase, you will learn about PTSD symptoms and how certain situations can trigger extreme stress and anxiety. You will further communicate with your therapist about your existing coping strategies. 
  • Phase II: By this time, you and the trauma therapist will collaboratively develop coping skills for you. Like Prolonged Exposure Therapy, your trauma therapist will teach you breathing exercises and ways to “stay in the moment.” 
  • Phase III: During this phase, you will be encouraged to practice your stress management techniques every day with your PTSD therapist and at home. 

As your treatment comes to an end after 3 months, you will review your progress and develop future plans to stay on the right path. 

If you are wondering, Stress Inoculation Training does not require you to reflect upon your trauma in detail like Prolonged Exposure Therapy. In fact, this form of therapy will not even demand you to mention minor details about your trauma.

Note: PTSD does not have a cure. So, the answer to “how to cure PTSD?” is still blank. However, with effective PTSD treatment, symptoms can certainly be managed. 

Normally, three structures within the brain are responsible for actions concerned with fear, memory, decision-making, and clear emotions. These include:

  1. Amygdala (Fear) 
  2. Hippocampus (Memory) 
  3. Prefrontal Cortex (Decision-making) 

Unfortunately, PTSD compromises the functions of these areas of the brain. In the long term, multiple effects of PTSD impact the neurological wiring of the brain. 

As the function of the amygdala increases a thousandfold, you are prone to having nightmares, which can cause PTSD and insomnia to become best friends. 

For that reason, neurological therapy for PTSD is as necessary as behavioral therapies. 

The most effective form of neurological PTSD therapy is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). 

Let’s explore EMDR in further detail. 

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing for PTSD and Traumas Treatment

Post-traumatic stress disorder treatment can be achieved with Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing uses the neuropsychological technique of repetitive eye movements to ease the symptoms of PTSD. 

During the therapeutic treatment, your PTSD therapist will ask you to recall the traumatic event that has caused you to require PTSD treatment. 

Once you and your PTSD psychologist find the most disturbing memory about the event, you will be asked to recall the details of that specific memory while making rapid and repetitive eye movements. 

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Usually, the eye movements will follow your trauma therapist’s side-to-side finger movement. 

Eventually, as you learn to embrace the memory of the traumatic event, your PTSD psychologist will guide you to reframe the most disturbing memory in a much more optimistic frame. 

So, can PTSD be cured with Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing? Not likely. But, can it be managed? Yes, indeed. 

EMDR can ease most of the PTSD symptoms including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety and Stress
  • Fatigue
  • Paranoia

Note: EMDR is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for PTSD. Its effectiveness, therefore, cannot be doubted. 

At times, in severe cases of post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD therapies might not suffice for the traumatic treatment. In this scenario, you will need medicines for PTSD. 

Because PTSD affects neurological wiring, your hormones – serotonin and norepinephrine – can go out of proportion. 

For this reason, your body can develop a mechanism to keep you on your toes every passing moment. Your brain develops a high-alert zone, while your “fight or flight” response stays active. 

To counter this situation, ease your anxiety, and minimize your stress, your PTSD psychologist will most likely prescribe you medicines for PTSD. 

These include: 

  • Fluoxetine (Prozac) – SSRI 
  • Paroxetine (Paxil) – SSRI 
  • Sertraline (Zoloft) – SSRI 
  • Venlafaxine (Effexor) – SNRI

The SSRIs (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and SNRI (Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) are the universally prescribed medications for PTSD. 

What is extremely important to acknowledge here is that PTSD medications’ side effects can pose some serious threats to your physical health. 

However, depending upon your condition, your PTSD psychologist might even provide you with some other medicines for PTSD, including:

  • Benzodiazepines
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors
  • Antipsychotics or second-generation antipsychotics
  • Beta-blockers
  • Sleep aids for PTSD insomnia

Let’s take an in-depth look at the SSRIs and SNRIs. 

Note: The medicines for PTSD can trigger suicidal thoughts. 

Fluoxetine – Prozac for PTSD Treatment

Fluoxetine is marketed with the brand name Prozac. Prozac for PTSD is an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor). 

As the name depicts, it works by increasing the amounts of serotonin within the brain. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter that stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being, and levels of happiness. Simultaneously, serotonin is also responsible for sleeping. 

In patients with PTSD, depression is extremely common along with anxiety. Similarly, PTSD causes insomnia as well. 

Prozac for PTSD works by sustaining the amounts of serotonin within the brain. 

Oftentimes, your trauma therapist will prescribe you Prozac for PTSD, while also administering neuropsychological therapy with EMDR. 

Your PTSD treatment plan will include more than 2 months of therapeutic treatment with timely prescriptions of Prozac for PTSD. 

Unfortunately, Prozac, when administered daily to PTSD patients, can cause side effects which include:

  • Vivid dreams or nightmares
  • Hyper arousal
  • Weakness
  • Anxiety 
  • Diarrhea
  • Indigestion
  • Flu 
  • The trouble with sleeping schedules
  • Rashes
  • Sweating
  • Hot flashes
  • Tremors 

It is noteworthy that PTSD medication side effects include trouble sleeping and nightmares. This implies that PTSD-triggered insomnia will remain a part of your life even if you consume Prozac for PTSD. 

If the aforementioned side effects do not go away after a few weeks, visit a doctor. Moreover, if you develop any of the worse side effects from the following list, consult a PTSD therapist immediately. 

  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations and symptoms of psychosis
  • Abnormal bleeding or bruising
  • Seizures
  • Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and tachycardia (increased heart rate) 

Note: Hallucinations mean to hear, feel, see, or smell something that is not present in reality. It is a symptom of aggravated PTSD medication side effects. 

Paroxetine – Paxil for Trauma Therapy

Paroxetine is sold with the brand name Paxil. 

Like Prozac for PTSD, Paxil has the same mode of action. It works by increasing the neurotransmitter serotonin in the central nervous system (brain) to improve your stress levels and alleviate your PTSD symptoms. 

Like Prozac, Paxil for PTSD can also be administered along with psychotherapy or neuropsychological therapy. 

Like Prozac, the side effects of Paxil include:

  • Nausea and diarrhea
  • Anxiousness
  • New or worse symptoms of depression
  • Sleeplessness
  • Decreased libido
  • Impotence
  • Agitation and hallucinations
  • Muscle rigidity 
  • Fluctuations in blood pressure and heart rate
  • Changes in vision, pain in the eyes. 
  • Blisters
  • Joint pain
  • Manic episodes
  • Convulsions
  • Unexplained bruising and fractures

Paxil comes with a warning. Unlike Prozac for PTSD, Paxil can cause the symptoms of worsened depression. As a result, according to the FDA, Paxil can cause extreme suicidal thoughts. This is more common among children and teenagers. 

For that reason, once your loved ones are prescribed Paxil, ensure that you keep an eye on them during the first few weeks and when the doses are changed. 

In case of worsening symptoms and suicidal thoughts, make sure that you reach out to a PTSD therapist and find a cure. 

Sertraline – Zoloft for Traumatic Therapy and PTSD Treatment 

The working mechanism for Zoloft is the same as Paxil and Prozac for PTSD. By improving the concentration of serotonin within the nervous system, Zoloft can work as an aid for treatments for PTSD. 

It can dull down the “on-edge” feeling for you while improving your mood and decreasing your levels of anxiety. 

It is, however, unfair if you expect your PTSD symptoms to be cured with Zoloft. 

The common side effects of Zoloft revolve in the vicinity of:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Changes in appetite
  • Impotence
  • Weight loss

If the side effects do not resolve within a few weeks or if you experience the following severe side effects, consult a doctor immediately. 

  • Fever, sweating, confusion, and the feeling as if you might pass out
  • Muscle rigidity and arrhythmia
  • Agitation, hallucinations, and hyperactive reflexes (Serotonin Syndrome)
  • Memory problems, weakness, seizures.

Your PTSD treatment plan will consist of Zoloft PTSD medication, accompanied by other forms of PTSD therapies. 

Venlafaxine – Effexor as a Treatment for PTSD

Unlike Paxil, Zoloft, Prozac for PTSD, Effexor is an SNRI. Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors work by increasing the concentration of both neurotransmitters in the brain. 

While serotonin is concerned with sleeping and mood, norepinephrine is concerned with decreasing stress and anxiety, and suppressing the “fight or flight” response. 

But, does Effexor come without its side effects? Of course not. 

The common side effects of Effexor are:

  • Blurred vision
  • Headaches
  • Drowsiness
  • Profuse sweating
  • Numbness in limbs 
  • Insomnia 
  • Loss of appetite

Like Paxil, Effexor can also worsen the symptoms of depression for people under the age of 25. 

The result? Excessive and extreme suicidal thoughts and temptation. 

Some rare PTSD medication side effects for Effexor include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, mental impairment, and mild amnesia. 

Note: PTSD and insomnia together can cause memory impairment. If insomnia because of PTSD causes your doctor to prescribe sleeping aids, you are more likely to experience a sequence of worsening symptoms in the long run. 

In your quest to find a cure for insomnia, you might come across information regarding different treatments for PTSD. 

One of such treatments for PTSD includes trauma-sensitive yoga and acupuncture. 

These alternative treatments for PTSD cannot find an answer to your question about “how to cure PTSD?” 

But, one thing is for sure. Alternative treatments for PTSD can balance out your thoughts and aid in PTSD treatment. 

When you have exhausted your options for therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder and medicines for PTSD, alternative treatment might help you to some extent.

Let’s traverse through the possibility of trying Yoga and acupuncture for PTSD therapy. 

Trauma-Sensitive Yoga as a Treatment for PTSD 

The purpose of PTSD counseling is to improve and rebuild your thought process in relation to the experienced trauma. The purpose of medicines for PTSD is to ensure that the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain are maintained. 

What is yoga to do in the midst of this? 

As a treatment for PTSD, trauma-sensitive yoga can help by enabling you to reconnect with your body as you move from one pose to another. 

The feeling of mindfulness enables you to observe and experience your physical responses. As you become familiar with your body. 

Trauma-sensitive yoga focuses more on the gentle aspect of yoga. This can allow you to relax. 

With relaxation, you can also expect to battle insomnia due to PTSD. 

Acupuncture – Is It an Effective Treatment for PTSD?

To answer the question, yes, acupuncture has been an effective method to treat PTSD. In fact, it has been around for ages. 

Acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine. It restores the energy balance within the body after a specialist inserts thin needles at specific points in the body. 

But, how is it that acupuncture actually works?

For PTSD treatment, acupuncture affects the autonomic nervous system within the body. Normally, the autonomic nervous system is concerned with hormone production. One of the hormones that come under the effect of the autonomic nervous system is norepinephrine. 

We have already explored how norepinephrine is concerned with the decrease of stress and anxiety. 

So, with increased norepinephrine production, PTSD patients observe an alleviation in their symptoms. Mainly stress and anxiety. 

There are a few forms of treatments for PTSD that have shown some promise as per research. 

The mere purpose of these treatments is to provide the opportunity to the patients to maximize the benefits of PTSD therapy and PTSD counseling. 

Read Also: Famous People with PTSD

Even though these treatments are not always included in the PTSD treatment plan, they can help to some extent. 

Nonetheless, just because a treatment is helpful, it does not mean that it is also completely consequence-free. 

Let’s take a look. 

  1. Virtual Reality Exposure as PTSD Treatment: Like Prolonged Exposure Treatment, virtual reality exposure works by immersing you into your traumatic event with the assistance of technology. 

After the immersion, your PTSD therapist will encourage you to talk about your experience. This is repeated until the immersion ceases to have an effect on you. 

  1. MDMA-Assisted Therapy for PTSD Treatment: MDMA is more commonly known as the drug ecstasy. During an MDMA-assisted therapy session, your PTSD psychologist will administer the drug. 

Following this, you will be encouraged to talk about your trauma with the therapist. Your trauma therapist will provide you with a calm and serene environment where you can completely trust and process your emotions. 

Research shows that ecstasy tends to reduce the fear and anxiety that the memories of trauma tend to trigger. 

Note: Ecstasy is an illicit and stimulant drug. It is very easy to become liable to MDMA abuse and dependence.

If you have not observed, psychotherapy – be it Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and its types of EMDR – works to decrease your symptoms of PTSD. 

Pharmacotherapy has the same role. It functions to increase the neurotransmitters that your brain needs to alleviate the emotional discomfort caused by PTSD. 

So, what is the difference? 

Firstly, psychotherapy for PTSD is a way to acknowledge your trauma over and over again until the repetition of traumatic memories ceases to cast any effect on you. 

Medicines for PTSD, on the other hand, do not alter the effect of the memories. Instead, it manages your symptoms of PTSD.

Secondly, psychotherapy addresses your thoughts and emotions at a much deeper level than medicines for PTSD do. They merely mask your thoughts for the time being until the symptoms appear again. 

Thirdly, psychotherapy keeps you engaged. It allows you to rebuild yourself from scratch. Medicines for PTSD can never achieve that. The mind is always stronger than the body itself. 

Furthermore, the effects of psychotherapy tend to last a lifetime without any consequences. However, if medicines for PTSD are continued for an extended period, you can become dependent on them. 

Your brain will fail to function without the medications for PTSD. Eventually, you might abuse the antidepressants (SSRIs and SNRIs) and become addicted to them. 

If your trauma therapist prescribes you Benzos and sleeping aids to combat PTSD-triggered insomnia, you will definitely fall prey to sleeping aid addiction and Benzodiazepines addiction. 

Last but not the least, psychotherapy does not expose you to any physical or mental harm. But, as for pharmacotherapy, the side effects of prescribed medications are innumerable. 

Ranging from your heart and gastrointestinal tract to your skeletal system and the brain, the side effects of medicines for PTSD can cause you to experience multiple disorders. For instance, Mania and Serotonin Syndrome. 

Regardless of the side effects and cons of pharmacotherapy, medicines for PTSD are important in many cases. In fact, for 9 out of 10 people, trauma therapy cannot proceed without medicines for PTSD. 

When a life-changing mental health disorder like PTSD comes knocking at your door, it is suitable for you to integrate a few changes within your lifestyle to ensure that the symptoms of PTSD do not become a hurdle to life itself. 

Here are a few changes that can improve your lifestyle:

  1. Increase contact with trauma survivors: If you still haven’t, it is a good option to find PTSD support groups and become familiar with the story of other trauma survivors. It is likely that your trauma therapist will encourage you to do so. 

Being in contact with other PTSD patients can allow you to gain support. It will make you realize that your journey is also the journey of thousands of other people.

  1. Exercise: Walking, jogging, and sprinkling some other cardio exercises on top can allow you to release physical tension. 

The endorphins that are released in the brain after a good workout can keep your anxiety and paranoia at non-disturbing levels during the day. Exercising regularly will also help you combat PTSD insomnia. 

Furthermore, along with treatment, if exercises suffice as a way to battle insomnia and PTSD at once, you might not require extensive pharmacotherapy for insomnia separately. 

  1. Avoid drug abuse: During your PTSD treatment, you will come in close association with sleeping aids, antidepressants, and other stimulant drugs. Oftentimes, you might feel inclined to consume higher-than-recommended doses. 

But, remember that the last thing you need is a drug addiction to fall onto your lap. Make sure that you maintain the integrity of prescription drugs. 

  1. Invest time in personal relationships: Whether it is your son, daughter, wife, husband, or an old friend at work, make sure that you invest time and effort in the relationship. 

The support that comes from your PTSD therapist or PTSD support groups is nothing in comparison to the strength that your loved ones can provide you. Do not escape from your relationships. 

  1. Volunteer: One way that you can reconnect with your surroundings is by doing some community service. You can contribute to health services, sports activities, commercial activities, elder homes, reading programs, and whatnot. It will help you realize that you are as much a part of the community as others. It will make you feel included. 

So, what is the bottom line? Well, even though PTSD cannot be cured, treatments for PTSD are multidirectional and can allow you to recover from it in no time. 

While Cognitive Processing Therapy, Prolonged Exposure Therapy, Stress Inoculation Training, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing allow you to reconstruct the trauma in a positive light, medicines for PTSD allow you to restore the natural chemical balance of the brain. 

Either way, your PTSD treatment plan can consist of a number of possibilities. 

Your PTSD therapist will be responsible for devising the best PTSD treatment plan for you depending upon your condition. 

Alternative treatments for PTSD can allow you to achieve robust outcomes along with the therapeutic treatment plan. 

However, you will need to incorporate some lifestyle changes to fully observe the effects of PTSD treatment in the long term. 

PTSD might not have a cure, but it is certainly treatable. Finding your way to a better life is indeed possible. 

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