Do you or someone you know suffer from PTSD? PTSD is an extremely difficult mental health concern, as 12 million adults in the US have PTSD in a given year. Before delving into ways to help manage PTSD, it's important to define it.
What is PTSD?
PTSD is defined as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD has been called many things: shell shock, soldier's heart, railway spine, battle fatigue, war neurosis, and more. While PTSD has vastly impacted soldiers, veterans, and those who have experienced war or violence, it has also been well documented that others who have experienced accidents, tragedies, or other traumatic events can also suffer from this condition. Stretching back centuries and being widely known since ancient times, PTSD can affect anyone who has endured a very stressful or frightening event or prolonged traumatic experience.
Some may also be diagnosed with a fairly new categorized term called Complex-PTSD, which is a condition where you experience PTSD issues along with some additional symptoms, such as difficulty controlling your emotions and feeling very angry or distrustful towards the world. The main difference between PTSD and Complex PTSD is that PTSD is generally related to a single event or series of events within a short period of time, while Complex PTSD is related to a series of events that repeatedly occurred over an extended period of time. Both lead to symptoms that can impact daily life functioning and well-being.
Symptoms of Complex PTSD
Memory loss and forgetfulness of the traumas
Drastic behavioral changes
Irrational patterns of thinking
Inability to control or regulate emotions
While PTSD and Complex PTSD can be extremely challenging, there are many studies and resources that show how people can manage and heal. Read below on 4 ways to help manage PTSD.
1.) Awareness & Asking for Help
One of the first steps to managing PTSD is becoming more aware of what PTSD is and what it means for the body and for the brain. Understanding PTSD better helps those affected process their thoughts and symptoms with more clarity, making it easier for them to take action with less judgment. People with PTSD can be very hard on themselves, questioning why they can’t just get over their negative and sometimes crippling symptoms. What many people don’t realize is that PTSD causes very real physiological reactions in the body, making it physically challenging to self-regulate. For example, people with PTSD have higher than normal stress hormones in the body, keeping their body in an easily triggered defense mode. The part of the brain that processes fear and emotion (the amygdala) is also more active in people with PTSD.
Learning more about PTSD and its strong impact on the brain and body can help those who suffer let go of a lot of self-criticisms and unhelpful pride that may be holding them back from seeking help. Self-isolation and fear of speaking about PTSD are common among sufferers, but can lead to increased feelings of loneliness, heartache, guilt, and shame; these heavy emotions can be further stored in the body leading to more physical symptoms like headaches, muscle tension, pain, stomach issues, and fatigue. Fortunately, becoming more aware of these emotional and physical symptoms is the first step to getting help, as awareness allows you to work through and potentially verbalize what you’re going through with close friends and family, therapists, and other professionals. The stigma that “asking for help is weak” or “asking for help means you can’t handle your problems on your own” is the farthest thing from the truth; asking for help actually requires a great deal of courage, vulnerability, and strength. When reaching out for support, finding someone who can hold a safe and comfortable space for you is essential; this space holder can be someone you know, a group of people, and/or someone who has professional experience like a therapist or wellness practitioner.
Additional Resources for Professional Help:
2.) Mindfulness + Breathwork
Managing PTSD and other symptoms with mindfulness and breathwork is an incredibly effective way to reduce mental, emotional, and physical symptoms associated with PTSD. Mindfulness can be defined as a state of being or practice that involves focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. Research shows how mindfulness practices can help those who suffer from PTSD reduce symptoms (e.g. unwanted memories/flashbacks, negative mood), decrease avoidance of trauma reminders, and lessen feelings of shame or self-blame. Breathwork is the use of breath awareness and conscious breathing for healing, growth, and physical and emotional transformation. Emerging studies about breathwork are showcasing its ability to calm the autonomic nervous system, shifting your body from fight or flight mode to rest and digest mode. Learn more about the benefits of breathwork here. Both practices are extremely effective in combating symptoms of PTSD, especially when paired together.
Acupuncture is a time-tested healing technique that has been utilized for thousands of years, helping many relieve mental, emotional, and physical symptoms through the insertion of needles on specific points on the body. According to the research, acupuncture can relieve symptoms of PTSD by helping the autonomic nervous system and prefrontal as well as limbic brain structures. There is also a specific acupuncture ear protocol called NADA that has shown to be very effective in relieving PTSD symptoms. This NADA protocol will be used at our upcoming Community Acupuncture & Breathwork Clinic for PTSD where participants with PTSD and Complex-PTSD will receive the PTSD-specific acupuncture treatment while practicing calming breathing techniques in our Himalayan Salt Cave.
This Event Includes:
Group Acupuncture Treatment In Our Himalayan Salt Cave
PTSD Specific NADA Ear Protocol
Calming Breathing Techniques
Community support with others who suffer from PTSD
Learn more & register for this $15 event on our website here.
4.) Creative Expression
Delving into creative expression helps PTSD sufferers put their energy toward something they enjoy while also providing them with a healthy outlet to cope with their feelings. Creative expression is subjective, allowing people to find an activity that works best for them. You can create an abstract painting to express your feelings of anger, sing or play a song to get out feelings of sadness/fear, or build something to get out of your mind and into your body. Creative expression can boost your mood, slow your heart rate, reduce stress and anxiety, and calm the nervous system. Creative expression also helps release the happy hormone dopamine from the brain, a natural antidepressant.
The beauty of creative expression is that it is a healthy way to process trauma without having to talk about it. Sharing or repeating a PTSD story can feel challenging or draining while expressing your feelings creatively can be an easier way to process and self-heal. Creative expression can decrease feelings of isolation as it often leads to the desire to engage with or be inspired by others.
Ideas for creative expression
Music-singing, song-writing, composing, playing an instrument
Building (e.g. DIY household, backyard items)
Social support is incredibly helpful when navigating the challenges of PTSD, so try the above creative activities with others or the following group activities:
Group art class
Music or band lessons
Team sports or games
Hiking or outdoor activities
PTSD is not something sufferers need to go through alone. There are so many resources and qualified professionals that can help. Our team offers a great deal of experience and healing modalities that can ease your mind and your body. If you have any questions about how our center can help you or someone you know with PTSD or Complex PTSD please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
Written By Michelle Eggink NTP
Nutritional Therapy Practitioner
Meditation & Mindfulness Teacher
Ceremonial Breathwork Facilitator