Holistic Non-12 Step Treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Holistic Non-12 Step Treatment for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.
The internal struggle of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is so much harder than it looks from the outside. While to others, you may just appear socially withdrawn, there’s an entire world of fear and anxiety unfolding within you. That experience can be so alienating that you want to go back to the traumatizing situation just to feel normal again. You live on alert, and without warning, you may suddenly start to feel afraid of everyone. You’re exhausted, but you avoid sleeping because you have nightmares. You worry that because of your trust issues, you’ll never be able to have a normal relationship again. You wish you could forget the past, but PTSD makes it impossible. You feel like a prisoner in your own mind.

Many people are afraid to get diagnosed or seek treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder because they don’t want to look any closer at the problem. Understandably, many are anxious about the stigma that comes along with it. And as a result, their feelings of aloneness and rejection continue unchecked.

At The Sanctuary, many of our clients come to us for problems like interrupted sleep, startle response and feeling stuck in a hypervigilant, fight-or-flight mode. This is a very real form of suffering.

But the good news is that the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder are fairly easy to remedy; modern holistic treatment offers a variety of powerful techniques to release its symptoms. However, without doing the deeper work, those symptoms can always come back. Beyond simply treating the symptoms, we need to the core of trauma, and the beliefs that have been created around it.

You can resolve, heal and transform your trauma – and doing so is often an entry point into an even more engaged and joyful life. The Sanctuary can help you get there, by:

  • Creating an environment in which you’re completely safe
  • Using a holistic selection of healing methods to alleviate the symptoms of PTSD and allow you to feel comfortable
  • More deeply addressing the root causes of your trauma, so that your symptoms no longer occur

Causes of This Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a set of symptoms that develops after a traumatic event. An occurrence is considered traumatic if it overwhelms your ability to cope with the stress that it causes. Our experience of trauma is highly subjective: what doesn’t significantly affect one person may be totally overwhelming to another.

About half of all adults experience trauma in their lifetime. For some people, trauma goes away on its own with time. But others may carry it with them for years – even for life – unless it’s intentionally and effectively treated. Any traumatizing event can cause PTSD, but it’s most commonly associated with military combat, violence, natural disasters and abuse. It’s estimated that around 6.8 percent of people in the US experience post-traumatic stress at some point in their lives. Rates of PTSD are higher among women than they are among men.

Someone is considered to have PTSD when their stress symptoms last for over a month following the traumatic event. But for some people, the onset of symptoms can show up as much as six months afterwards. Reminders of the incident, such as people, places and dates associated with it, can trigger flashbacks and flare-ups of other symptoms. As a result, many people do their best to avoid situations that might remind them of the incident. If their PTSD is severe enough, they may want to avoid the outside world entirely.

Post-traumatic stress disorder changes the way your body deals with stress. It increases your stress hormone levels and throws off your neurotransmitters, changing your neural pathways and networks. In other words, it alters how your brain functions. This is why people with PTSD can’t simply turn it off or get over it: its effects can feel completely out of your control.

Signs and Symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

The symptoms and acuteness of PTSD vary from person to person, but often include some combination of the following:

  • Disruptive memories and visualizations that you can’t shut off
  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks (and corresponding behavior)
  • Insomnia (due to anxiety and fear of sleeping)
  • Emotional detachment or numbness
  • Major depression
  • Hyper vigilance (feeling like you’re always on alert)
  • Startling easily
  • Dissociation or sudden confusion about your surroundings
  • Social withdrawal
  • Loss of focus
  • A sense of bleakness about your future
  • Mood swings and angry outbursts

You might also have intense physical reactions to your memories of the event, like a racing heartbeat, shortness of breath, panic or dizziness. Avoidance is a natural trauma response; because of this, you might even have a hard time remembering what exactly happened to cause your trauma. You might also blame yourself for what happened, or for surviving the event when other people did not (known as survivor’s guilt).

The most common symptoms of PTSD are often the most difficult to recognize. Avoidance, for example, is a normal part of human nature: we want to steer clear of what we know to be painful. Survivors may avoid thinking about anything that reminds them of their trauma or causes them discomfort and pain. But because fear often generalizes rather than being obviously related to a specific event, you may not even realize why you’re avoiding certain things. That’s why it’s so important to address the source of your fear on an energetic level; to understand and change your relationship with it for good.

Holistic Non-12 Step Treatment Options for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.

Conventional treatment for PTSD centers on talk therapy. But new research shows that trauma is an embodied experience, and to truly be effective, treatment should be, too. Some people find that talking through their experience over and over has the effect of retraumatizing them. For others, it may be difficult to even verbalize their experience in the first place. But some holistic treatment techniques are able to bypass cognitive processing and directly release the trauma from wherever it is stuck. Here are a few examples:

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

In EMDR, your therapist has you repeat bilateral eye movements while recalling distressing memories. This cues your brain to move the events from your active, working memory to your long-term memory where they get appropriately filed away. As a result, you can still remember the event, but it doesn’t affect you as strongly – you don’t feel it like it happened yesterday. EMDR is extremely effective in treating PTSD: most people notice significant improvements after just a few sessions.

Trauma-Sensitive Yoga (TSY)

Trauma disconnects you from your experience of your own body. Trauma-sensitive yoga is designed to gently bring you back into your bodily awareness, helping you identify the physical sensations associated with your emotions. It all takes place in a safe space that’s intentionally designed to minimize triggers. The more often you practice actively relaxing, the easier it becomes to transition into a calm state.

Energy Medicine

Based on scientific principles, Energy Medicine is a holistic practice that helps you clear toxicities and remove blockages from your energetic field. This practice restores you to a state of balance, flow and health on a level that purely psychological treatment can fail to address. Energy medicine is a powerful tool for releasing trauma in a deep and sustainable way. Combined with other aspects of the holistic treatment process, it activates your natural abilities to heal yourself, leading to a more complete recovery.

Nutrition, Bodywork and Other Therapies

Nutrition for PTSD

Through modern science’s understanding of the gut-brain connection, we now know how intimately diet and mental health are linked. Inflammation in the body has a powerful effect how you feel, and can even lead to the development of conditions like depression and anxiety. Using our knowledge of this connection, we can eat foods that help us heal from all kinds of mental distress, including trauma and PTSD. Our bodies are chemical repositories that require the right fuel, lubrication and electrical connections. All of this is powered by the chemistry of what we put into our bodies: our food.

Because each person’s ancestry and physical composition is different, there’s no right way to eat. That’s why nutritional education is a key part of our holistic post-traumatic stress disorder treatment program. Our nutritionist works with you to find the right nutritional balance to encourage your body’s natural healing processes. This not only eliminates the inflammation that leads to depression and pain, but empowers you with the knowledge to sustain a brain-healthy diet long after you leave treatment.

Bodywork for PTSD

“Feelings” don’t just manifest as emotions, but also as physical sensations and reactions. Trauma has a tendency to become stuck in the body: events replay themselves over and over not just as mental loops, but also as bodily expressions. Over time, it’s no longer the direct memory, but your body’s memory of it, that’s being acted out.

Your nervous system has a huge impact on your mental health, and it can be most effectively regulated through the body. Getting out of our heads and into our bodies makes healing more possible. While trauma jolts you out of your body, bodywork methods like somatic experiencing help bring you safely back in. Through this and other holistic practices, your body can lead the way to a healed, healthy and balanced state.

Other Therapies for PTSD

Other healing methods we use at The Sanctuary include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Holotropic Breathwork
  • Trauma Release Exercises (TRE)
  • Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)
  • Somatic Release Therapy
  • Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS)

Who is at Risk for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder is commonly associated with military veterans, and while this is commonly the case, the fact is that anyone can develop PTSD. Trauma can come in the form of physical violence, sexual assault, abuse or accidents. Sometimes trauma isn’t one, pronounced event, but many smaller events over time, as is often the case in childhood abuse. Trauma is also sometimes experienced indirectly, when you witness someone else in danger.

Not everyone who goes through trauma develops post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD occurs when your ability to cope with the stress becomes overwhelmed – and this reaction is different for every person. Some people can experience a hugely traumatizing event and not end up with PTSD; others can be affected for years by what seems like a relatively insignificant occurrence. What’s important to remember is that your response to trauma isn’t a sign of weakness, but an indication of something that needs to be resolved so that you can move forward in a positive, self-empowered way.  

There are some risk factors that may make people more likely to develop PTSD. These include:

  • Lack of a support network to help you process trauma
  • Additional life stresses that coincide with the traumatic event
  • A family history of addiction or mental health disorders
  • Adverse childhood experiences

There’s also a lot that can be done to increase your resilience to trauma. Increasing your resilience and integrating it into your daily life is a key aim of The Sanctuary’s healing program for post-traumatic stress disorder.

How PTSD Can Lead to Substance Abuse

When you live in a constant state of fear, sadness and isolation, it’s natural to want to somehow ease your pain. And unfortunately for many people – especially those who don’t receive the treatment they need – alcohol and drugs become the easiest way to escape their emotional state. People with unresolved trauma often turn to alcohol and drugs to self-medicate. In fact, at The Sanctuary, we find that many of those who come to us for addictions are actually using substances to soothe some sort of underlying trauma. The guilt and shame associated with trauma keeps many people from being able to express their pain, which in turn makes drugs and alcohol seem like a more acceptable choice.

Trauma causes a feeling of disorientation and separation from the world around you. Because those with PTSD have to cope in a word that’s unfamiliar, in which it seems that no one understands where they’re coming from, drugs and alcohol become a way to calm down temporarily. 

The problem with this is that substances only make the situation far worse. That’s because they destabilize your mood, heighten your anxiety and depression and compound the psychological effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Substances are far more likely to lead to dependence and addiction when they’re used for self-medication. Whether or not addiction co-occurs with PTSD has to do with factors like how well-developed your coping skills are, and your genetic predisposition to substance dependence.

Drugs and alcohol can’t heal your past trauma, but holistic treatment can.

Holistic Treatment for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

Because post-traumatic stress disorder is a complex condition that often involves other co-occurring disorders, it can be complicated to treat. Using conventional talk therapy alone to treat PTSD not only takes quite some time, but can be a drudging process in and of itself. In fact, many people who pursue this route end up quitting it prematurely, and understandably so. The avoidance patterns that are so common with PTSD make it hard to sustain this level of emotional intensity.

Today, increasing numbers of people are seeking out alternative avenues for healing their trauma. Thankfully, many alternative therapies don’t require you to retell the story of your trauma. This makes holistic treatment much more comfortable, which increases the potential for seeing it through to completion.

At The Sanctuary, “holistic” means we treat you as a whole person – not just a set of isolated symptoms. Holistic treatment for healing post-traumatic stress disorder supports your recovery by:

  • Making the process more comfortable for you
  • Enhancing the benefits of your talk therapy
  • Accessing parts of the brain that conventional talk therapy can’t reach

In our holistic treatment program for post-traumatic stress disorder, all components work together to create a synergistic whole. This doesn’t just advance your potential for healing from PTSD, but is the foundation for our entire approach at The Sanctuary.

Possible Prognosis After Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

Trauma can last for a very long time after the event that originally caused it is over. In order for post-traumatic stress to be diagnosed as a disorder, symptoms must last for over a month. But the reality is that many people carry the effects of trauma with them indefinitely, until they’re able to get the help they really need.

Trauma survivors often cycle through PTSD symptoms for years. Many clients who come to The Sanctuary have experienced symptoms for the majority of their lives prior to seeking treatment with us. Your ability to cope with trauma may involve several factors, like your personal background, social support network and overall state of health. But at The Sanctuary, we believe all people have the potential to completely heal. Our trauma healing program has helped many people recover to an extent they never thought possible. Here’s how some of our clients describe their experience:

“A holistic approach to a lifetime of buried trauma and the whole staff help you heal, which I thought was impossible.”

“Holistic trauma recovery and a second lease on a life of happiness, provided you’re willing to do the work.”

“A safe, nurturing holistic healing opportunity.”

“I highly recommend the Sanctuary to anyone going through a difficult time.”

I’ve Struggled with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder for Years. Can You Help Me?

Trauma has many ways of showing itself: nightmares, isolation, depression, anxiety, flashbacks and anger. If these sound familiar to you, you’re not alone – and you have the ability to leave them all behind.

At The Sanctuary, our holistic post-traumatic stress disorder treatment program is designed to help you feel safe. We make sure to take all the time necessary getting to know you and establishing a mutually understood relationship before we start working on anything that may be more vulnerable. We purposefully create a setting where you can relax, feel at home and be involved in the therapeutic process without feeling pressured to do anything you’re not ready for. And when you stay at our peaceful center among the natural surrounds of Sedona, eat a diet of natural, nutrient-rich foods and feel the genuine acceptance of our community, you’ll find it easy to calm down and settle in.

The Sanctuary is far more than an old-paradigm addiction treatment center. We’re not just looking at symptom management. We understand that overcoming post-traumatic stress disorder is about far more than just mitigating the behavior that’s making you feel stuck – it’s about getting underneath it and healing its root causes. We want to help alleviate the symptoms of your PTSD and get you to a comfortable place, and then take it a step further, so you can have sustainable change.

You can be free from these experiences that have been following you for a long time.

Are you ready to change your life? Reach out today to take the first step with us.

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