Self-help and treatment alternatives for PTSD

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PTSD is a disorder that develops after experiencing an event that the patient perceives as a dangerous, shocking or scary one, such as a serious car crash, the injury or death of a dear person, etc. In the opinion of specialists, when experiencing such an event, trauma is felt both psychologically and physiologically. The body of a person will instantly trigger a coping mechanism, to avoid reliving the event to the same intensity even years after the incident. Due to this self-protection mechanism, many people manage to recover naturally after that traumatic event. If the shock is too big, and the person in question feels that the stress continues and is still scared even if the danger has passed a long time ago, then they suffer from PTSD.

What happens inside the brain?

The nervous system knows a few methods of response to stressful events. The first one is mobilizing, when the heart begins to beat rapidly, the blood pressure rises, the muscles contract, the resistance of the body and the reaction speed are increased. In this case, once the danger has passed, the nervous system calms the body down, decreases the heart rate and returns to a normal balance.

The second one involves immobilization. This occurs when the person is confronted with an overwhelming amount of stress and, although the initial mobilization reaction passes, the person remains to invert. In this situation, the nervous system is unable to return to its normal state and cannot overcome the traumatic event.

The mental repetition of that moment generates a continuous stress, which persists even after the traumatic event has ended. In this case, the problem occurred is PTSD. People who have experienced a traumatic event will have reactions that can include shock, anger, nervousness, fear and even guilt, and symptoms begin to feel even three months after the event has passed.

What events can cause PTSD?

A multitude of psychological, social and biological factors can cause PTSD. PTSD is an anxiety disorder, which means the person automatically feels a concern, a threat. Unlike other anxiety disorders that don’t necessarily involve the existence of a traumatic experience to trigger it, PTSD involved a menacing event that already occurred and generated the symptoms of the disease. The problem begins when the person can no longer leave the event in the past and is constantly disturbed by emotions that are directly related to that event. PTSD is accentuated when stress is present in large quantities in one’s life. The sense of threat which can be felt by the patients while they struggle with PTSD can be caused by negative assessments of trauma and their tremendous consequences, but also by a disturbing autobiographical memory, which is related to poor contextualization or a strong associative memory, which involves correlating a present event with one in the past that can generate negative emotions. The events that may cause PTSD vary, but noticing the symptoms of this disease is paramount in the long run. The consequences of PTSD can lead to suicidal thoughts

What symptoms indicate PTSD?

There are multiple types of symptoms that have to do with PTSD. These symptoms can be intrusive, emotional or neurophysiological. Here are the most common symptoms of PTSD:

  • Flashbacks and nightmares – these represent the most common symptoms of PTSD; the traumatic event and the feelings which are directly related to it are relived through flashbacks and nightmares, which accentuate the stress and lead to a worse condition
  • Intense emotional reactions when the event is brought to light – whenever someone talks about the event, the patient has uncontrollable emotional reactions, even after long periods of time since the incident
  • Physical reactions – night sweats, muscular tension, pain, and others
  • Emotional paralysis – these signs are similar to the symptoms related to depression; anything related to the event is avoided; the patient may also suffer from memory loss; the patient might feel detached from people and activities that were previously enjoyed
  • Neurophysiological reactions – insomnia, irritability, paranoia, the inability to focus, intermittent explosive behavior and others

Treatment alternatives

  • CBT

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, also known as CBT, is a form of short-length therapy that requires a detailed assessment by a therapist to determine what the problem to be addressed is and to develop a structured treatment plan. The patient and the therapist collaborate in this approach to identify and understand problems through the relation between thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. The approach is centered on “here and now” and involves the development of therapeutic strategies and goals that are monitored and evaluated during therapy. Emphasis is placed on the acquisition and use of new skills in an active manner, through the practical application of learning things between meetings. In fact, over time, customers learn to apply CBT principles in everyday life, requiring less and less guidance from the therapist. Assuming this role by the patient needs to be continued after the actual completion of the therapy to see results in the long run.

  • Antidepressants

Administering antidepressants is a last resort method for people who can’t get over their diseases using any other method. Antidepressants are recommended to people who tried every other method and no results were shown. These patients should visit a psychotherapist and see what is the best method to approach next. If the psychotherapist decides that using antidepressants is safe, then medication is the best alternative to treat the issues.

  • Holistic treatments

Choosing holistic treatment for PTSD is one of the best methods to overcome the dramatic effects of the disease. Treating this disease with holistic medicine is an extremely complex process in which success is conditioned by the existence of empathy between the doctor and the patient. When developing a treatment scheme, allopathic physicians, naturopathic doctors, chiropractors, and homeopaths will be involved, depending on the severity of PTSD. Among the first recommendations is a change in lifestyle, which will include diet adjustments. Depending on the general condition of the patient, a diet is recommended to meet the daily nutritional needs. Holistic treatments also involve detoxifications, eating organic, physical movement programmes, health tests and so on.