Holistic Treatment for PTSD. What do the words post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, bring to your mind? In our society, it’s not uncommon for us to associate PTSD with military veterans struggling from the mental scars of combat and war. But the truth is, you don’t have to have gone to war or even ever been in the military to have PTSD.
Between 60-80% of Americans – civilians with no military background – have some form of PTSD. And what’s more, nearly everyone is probably living with some degree of trauma, whether overt or subconscious.
PTSD can be triggered by a wide variety of trauma ranging from a one-time event to some type of sustained abuse. Trauma can be defined as anything that affects our system to the degree that it interferes with our ability to be able to process information, to be able to live life, and to be able to feel good. The symptoms created by traumatic events vary greatly and can manifest as PTSD in some.
Today, trauma work is the cutting-edge science of psychology and holistic treatment. More and more, people who come to rehab to address potentially harmful coping strategies, like substance abuse or codependency, discover that the underlying cause of these struggles is actually some form of past or present unresolved trauma and, in many cases, PTSD due to that trauma.
No one has identical experiences of the same events – what may be traumatic for one person might hardly affect another. Similarly, the set of symptoms and the severity of those symptoms as triggered by traumatic events vary greatly.
PTSD’s large network of symptoms is often grouped into four commonly recognized categories:
- Intrusive Memories: Unwanted flashbacks, intense reoccurring memories, and nightmares
- Avoidance: Avoiding anything that could remind you of the traumatic event including people, places, and activities, social withdrawal due to avoidance, not talking or thinking about the trauma, use of alcohol and/or drugs as an escape
- Negative Moods or Thoughts: General negative self-talk and world outlook, loss of memory, feelings of hopelessness and wanting to give up, detachment even from close friends and family, loss of interest in hobbies and previously enjoyable activities, numbness or a complete lack of emotions
- Changes in Reactivity: Being easily startled or frightened (aka startle response), physical muscle tension, increased alertness or “on guard” behavior (aka hypervigilance), insomnia, loss of concentration, uncharacteristically irritable or aggressive behavior, overwhelming guilt or shame (sometimes from survivor’s guilt)
If you are experiencing more than one of these symptoms regularly for more than a month, or if the disturbing thoughts and feelings increase in severity, you might have long-term post-traumatic stress disorder.