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PTSD and Trauma Symptoms in Times of Coronavirus

As the new coronavirus shakes up our world, fear and anxiety abounds. And as people retreat further into isolation, any existing mental stress becomes magnified. This is especially true for those struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

As social creatures, we humans rely on others for our psychological wellbeing. Whatever our varying vies might be, COVID-19 has brought our attention to survival. And for those who already live in a heightened state of fear, the effects of loneliness may be enough to push them over the edge.

To experience PTSD is to experience total overwhelm. People can’t simply will themselves out of it – symptoms usually recur unless it’s well and truly healed. But in a world where the availability of PTSD treatment is also in flux, is it still possible to access high-quality care?

The Sanctuary is committed to providing the same, intensive programming we always have. This includes live, in-person counseling, and connection to the community, all within a context of enhanced safety standards.

It’s never too soon to start healing from trauma. Let’s learn how we can go about it.

The Stress of Social Isolation

In addition to fears of exposure to the virus, COVID-19 has led to a range of trauma- and stress-related concerns, including PTSD. And for those already living with PTSD, the added strain of social isolation can make symptoms spiral out of control.

It’s long been known that loneliness is linked to poor health outcomes across the board. But a recent study specifically regarding the effects of loneliness on PTSD finds, “loneliness plays a major role in the development of complex PTSD and in the preservation of its symptoms. Consequently, therapies for complex PTSD should include interventions that address loneliness.”

Other research on what psychiatrists term “post-COVID stress disorder” recommends countering coronavirus-related stressors with certain “protective factors.” In addition to timely COVID-19 testing, these include:

  • Social support
  • Healthcare resources
  • Wellness programs

Healing From COVID-related PTSD at The Sanctuary

Calming the Nervous System  

PTSD causes changes in your nervous system. That is, it escalates the part of your nervous system that creates “fight, flight, or freeze” mode, and depletes your “rest and digest” system. People with PTSD live in an adrenaline-induced state that heightens their stress response and negative emotions. This state, unfortunately, impairs the parts of our brain that help us feel good and make sound decisions.

Your parasympathetic nervous system, on the other hand, is where immunity and resilience lives. This is the state you’re in when you feel safe and calm. And this is what our holistic program encourages as a first step in your treatment process. Switching out of survival mode makes you more receptive to change. And once you change your internal landscape, your external reality starts to reflect that safety back to you. You’ll experience this via:

  • Our calming natural environment
  • Daily meditation
  • Sound healing
  • A brain-healthy diet and supplement regimen

Social Connection

Humans have always depended on each other for survival. As such, we’re wired to feel safer and happier when we’re together. While COVID has posed some significant challenges to that, our small group size and secluded location at The Sanctuary allows us to maintain our family feel. And that sense of community goes a long way in restoring what’s been lost to isolation. You’ll get to engage with others by:

  • Living and attending treatment in a small cohort, with a maximum of 9 other clients
  • Eating meals together with clients and onsite staff
  • Giving and receiving support in daily group therapy
  • Sharing weekly activities like nature hikes and creative nights

Body-based Therapies

Health comes from flow; disease comes from stagnation. When emotions get trapped in the body, they can create a cascade effect that leads to illness. That’s why we use movement and touch to release stuck trauma from where it’s physically held. In order to do this, we use therapies like:

  • Yoga
  • Breathwork
  • Bodywork
  • Trauma release exercises (TRE)

COVID Safety Measures

At The Sanctuary, we understand that psychological safety is a necessary prerequisite to treatment. And we’re completely committed to creating the environment you need to focus on healing.

Our policies regarding COVID-19 are based on Arizona Department of Health Services standards, as well as recommendations of our clinical and medical directors. Health and safety measures we take include:

  • Screening for COVID-19 upon arrival
  • Continuously monitoring clients and staff for symptoms
  • Making sure all clients have contingency plans in place
  • Extra cleaning and hygiene measures throughout our facilities

We review and update these policies frequently as regulations change. See the full details of our COVID-19 policy here.

Honoring Your Needs

We understand that everyone has a different threshold for safety around the coronavirus. Everyone has the right to decide what’s right for them, and we fully respect your needs.

Our team is happy to meet you where you’re at and accommodate your concerns. We invite you to ask our admissions coordinator anything you need to know about how we’re meeting regulatory standards, and what you can expect in daily life at The Sanctuary. We also welcome an open conversation upon arrival and at any point during your stay.

You don’t have to struggle with PTSD alone. We’re here, we’re open and we’re ready to guide you on an empowering journey that can truly change your life.

Contact us today to learn more.