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According to National Institute of Mental Health, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, also referred to as PTSD, is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. It is classified as an anxiety disorder. During a traumatic event, changes occur in the body to defend against or avoid the situation. While many people recover naturally from a traumatic event or experience, some continue to experience difficulties due to the traumatic event may be diagnosed with PTSD. Most commonly related to military personnel returning home from war related experiences, PTSD can affect any person and be related to any traumatic event.
Symptoms of PTSD are grouped into three classes, re-experiencing, avoidance, and hyper-arousal. Symptoms may occur anytime after the experience; even years later. Symptoms lasting more than a month after the experience may need assessment to determine the severity of the situation. They last for extended periods of time and have an affect relationships and work. Symptoms may include flashbacks, bad dreams and thoughts, avoidance of stimulants that may remind the person of the experience and avoidance of thoughts or feelings, uneasiness, feeling on-edge, easily angered, sleeplessness, mood-swings, negative thoughts, feelings of blame or guilt, and lost of interest in enjoyable activities. These symptoms can become dangerous and even life-threatening if not cared for. If these last more than a month or become serious, it is important to seek advice from your caregiver.
Many options exist for one who wishes to overcome PTSD. These options modalities commonly used in western medicine, traditional chinese medicine, and complimentary alternative medicine. Current western therapies include trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), stress inoculation training, and pharmaco-therapies. Complementary alternative medicine and traditional chinese medicine offer holistic modalities that may help calm the discomforts related to PTSD. Some studies indicate that a few of these modalities; acupuncture, hypnotherapy, meditation, and visualization; may offer beneficial outcomes.
Acupuncture is the process of inserting needles into meridian points for therapeutic or preventative purposes. Among many other discomforts, acupuncture is used for mental disorders such as anxiety, insomnia, eating disorders, and disorders related to substance-abuse. A “point-prescription” can be used for overall symptoms. This can be individualized based on personal needs. When used for PTSD symptoms, acupuncture may relieve symptoms of stress, anxiety, anger, mood-swings, fogginess, pain and more. Acupuncture can also be used for other conditions and dis-ease of the body.
Hypnotherapy is the treatment of a variety of health conditions by hypnosis or by inducing prolonged sleep. Hypnotherapy may be used to help a person quit bad habits, gain relief from symptoms of mental disorders such as anxiety and PTSD, depression, with pain relief, and even with physical ailments such as IBS and skin conditions. Hypnotherapy uses hypnosis and deep relaxation techniques to provide relief.
To meditate is to engage in mental exercise (such as concentration on one's breathing or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness. This process is known as the modality of meditation. The goal of meditation is to calm the mind and body, create a heightened sense of awareness, and to increase personal or spiritual growth. Meditation may help to reduce stress, control anxiety, promote emotional wellness, strengthen self-awareness, improve attention span, improve attitude, encourage positive thoughts, and may even assist in combating memory loss.
Visualization and Guided Imagery are tools used to direct concentration towards images held in the “mind’s eye”. In enhances the connection between the visual brain and the involuntary nervous system. Visualization techniques and imaginal exposure exercises, sometimes called guided imageries, can be used to reduce stress and improve relaxation, improve performance, and change unwanted behaviors.
Other Holistic Options
Evidence for other complimentary modalities such as biofeedback, Emotional Freedom (EFT), Thought Field (TFT) therapies, yoga, and natural products is unclear and additional research is required. These modalities are worthy of further study given that PTSD and other mental health concerns are becoming so prominent in our country. Additionally certain nervine and adaptogenic herbs can provide support. Nervine herbs may provide tonic, relaxing, or stimulating effects on the nervous system. Adaptogenic herbs are known to be non-toxic, builds the whole bodys’ resistance to stress, and restore balance to body functions. As with all herbs, consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new herb, especially if you have other health conditions or are taking pharmaceutical drugs. The possibility of adverse reactions and contraindications can be severe and life threatening.
Using holistic modalities to assist in the process of healing mental wellness can provide effective and safe outcomes. Many of these modalities can be used in unison with western medicine. These holistic modalities may provided relief to symptoms of mental distress, provide tools to calm and control symptoms, and may also be beneficial to physical health and wellness.