Living with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is no walk in the park. You may never feel safe, believing every stranger to be a threat. It may cause you to spend most of your time alone because you’re scared of being around people – even people you know. You might be afraid to go to sleep or close your eyes, or experience sudden physical symptoms like adrenaline rushes and hyperventilation in response to an unpleasant memory, or seemingly out of the blue.
If this sounds like you, you’re not alone – 24 million people in the US have PTSD. Each one of those people deals with a disorder that is downright debilitating. But the bright side is that even though at times it feels like hope is lost, with the right treatment and support, there’s plenty of potential for a happy and fulfilling future.
What is PTSD?
PTSD occurs when someone is unable to recover from witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event. Some of its most common causes are war, child abuse, rape, and assault. Symptoms of PTSD include:
Flashbacks, re-living the event
Avoiding situations that remind you of the event
Hyperarousal, heart palpitations, anxiety
Excessive guilt, fear, and shame
Emotional numbness, dissociation
When you suffer from PTSD, your body is in a constant state of stress, because your limbic system floods the body with stress hormones every time memories of the event surface. Trauma also damages the hippocampus – the part of your brain responsible for organizing memories. That’s why traumatic memories keep resurfacing and feel fresh, as opposed to being filed away in your long-term memory.
Needless to say, continuously being under stress in this way is harmful to your physical, emotional, and spiritual health. You can also experience PTSD symptoms as a result of vicarious trauma – bearing witness to a traumatic event experienced by someone else.
How Trauma Leads to addiction
Because of the extremely uncomfortable state of fear, anxiety, and depression trauma victims live in, it’s easy to see why people would do anything to escape it – and why so many turn to substances to do so. But that self-medicating can easily lead to dependence and addiction, creating a dubious downward spiral that requires professional treatment to escape. And unfortunately, this is even more common among service members (one-third of veterans with substance use disorder also have PTSD) and women (up to one-half of women in treatment for substance abuse have experienced rape or sexual assault). The likelihood of co-occurring trauma and addiction also has to do with factors like how well-developed your natural coping mechanisms are, and your genetic predisposition to addiction.
What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger: Post-traumatic Growth
The good news is, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, some people emerge from trauma in even better shape than before. This is due to a phenomenon called post-traumatic growth: the positive psychological changes you experience when you’re able to harness the effects of your trauma, shape them into something important and use them to better your life. Humans are resilient beings; when given the chance and the resources, we can come back even stronger than ever.
What’s the Most Effective Treatment for PTSD?
Co-occurring trauma and addiction are best treated through a dual diagnosis approach that untangles both issues simultaneously. While conventional trauma therapy focuses on treating the mind and body, this may not be enough to address the intense suffering felt by PTSD sufferers. To truly heal from trauma, your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs must all be taken into account.
The Sanctuary offers a holistic, integrated PTSD treatment program that uses the newest advancements in epigenetics and neuroplasticity, making it possible for you to reshape genetic factors and transform your cellular biology to restore yourself to health on every level. We combine Western medicine and a wide variety of holistic therapies to realign your mind, body, soul, and spirit, so you can live the life you deserve.
For more information on how spirit and holistic healing can help you, read our article The Energy Body – Spirit and Holistic Healing.
To learn how we can help you overcome trauma and PTSD, contact us at (877) 710-3385 today.