Why Talk Therapy And Drugs Arent The Best Treatment Options
Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, MD, a psychiatrist at the Boston University School of Medicine and one the worlds leading experts on trauma, is convinced that talk therapy isnt that effective, and psychiatric drugs dont get to the root of traumatic issues:
The study of trauma shows that you cannot knock sense into people by talking to them. Trauma is not an issue of cognition. Its an issue of disordered biological systems.
Based on my experience, I agree with Bessel van der Kolk, and I highly recommend you check out his book The Body Keeps Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma if youre interested in learning more.
The book talks about how the brain is shaped by traumatic experiences, how traumatic stress is experienced by the entire body, and how this knowledge needs to be integrated into conventional treatment.
Because of trauma, I used to struggle with chronic hyper-vigilance a heightened state of awareness and over-activation of my “fight-or-flight” response.
In other words, my brain was irrationally on constant alert.
This is because trauma impacts the unconscious, emotional, reptilian” part of our brains, causing us to become chronically frightened and interpret the world as dangerous.
You know you shouldnt feel that way, but you do.
And then that makes you feel even more defective and ashamed.
You cannot reason your way out of that.
Talk therapy can be helpful in acknowledging what has happened to you and how it has affected you.
Residential Inpatient Ptsd Treatment Centers
If you or a loved one is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and wants to seek treatment, residential or inpatient PTSD treatment centers are a solid option. These centers are staffed by trained specialists who can assess your condition and formulate the best treatment plan for you in an atmosphere that is as stress-free as possible.
When To Seek Ptsd Treatment
Any trauma survivor would tell you that healing from PTSD naturally takes dedication and endurance. As youve seen here, there are many widely effective natural ways to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. If youve found that your trauma symptoms are impacting your functioning, it may be time to seek therapy, confirm a diagnosis using a PTSD test, and find an approach out of all the treatment options that works best for your needs.
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How To Overcome And Cure Ptsd
There are many different scenarios that can lead a person to experience PTSD . As a person who has had to deal with PTSD and knows about the extreme fight or flight response and adrenaline that accompanies this severe disorder, I know how painful it can be to deal with. Not everyone with the disorder will overcome the severity of symptoms that they experience, but after putting up with the rapid-thinking, extreme sense of fear, flashbacks, and hyperarousal for years, part of you will want to move on.
If you are ready to acknowledge that part of your spirit is ready to move on to a state of living free of fear and free of this fight or flight response, this is when you know you are ready to attempt to deal with PTSD. For me, I honestly thought I was going to live in a state of fear for the rest of my existence. In totality, my experience with PTSD ended up lasting about 8 years. Mine was brought about by a severe life-threatening diagnosis at the doctor. Im not going to get into all the details, but lets just say that I became so scared, that I was literally hyperfocused on every breath, every heartbeat, and my senses were off the charts normal sounds were like sonic booms.
Is There A Cure For Ptsd
As with most mental illnesses, no cure exists for PTSD, but the symptoms can be effectively managed to restore the affected individual to normal functioning. The best hope for treating PTSD is a combination of medication and therapy. By working with a healthcare professional, individuals with PTSD can resolve their triggering factors and learn new and effective ways of coping with the stress of the past trauma.
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What Happens To Different Parts Of The Brain
Memory is a complex process that involves many parts of your brain, but to keep it simple, well focus on two of the key players: the amygdala and the hippocampus. The amygdala is associated with emotional memory especially the formation of fear-related memories. It evolved to ensure your survival by strongly encoding memories of past dangers youve experienced so that you recognize and respond to those threats if you see them again.The hippocampus, the other region of your brain heavily involved in memory, acts like the brains historian. It catalogs all the different details of an experience who was there, where it happened, and what time of day it was into one cohesive event you can consciously recollect as a memory. In your typical, day-to-day life, your amygdala and hippocampus work together to turn your experiences into distinct long-term memories.However, during a traumatic event this system works a bit differently. Because you are in danger, your bodys built in fight-or-flight mechanism takes over and your amygdala is over-activated while the hippocampus is suppressed. From an evolutionary perspective, this makes sense: the processes involved in building a cohesive memory are deprioritized in favor of paying attention to the immediate danger. As a result, your memory becomes jumbled.
Ways To Deal With Ptsd Triggers
August 2, 2022 By Kim Rosenthal, MD
We all come across things that trigger difficult memories, but for people with PTSD, these memories jumpstart a cascade of internal events that washes on panic, horror, or rage.
Then there are the triggered thoughts. Sometimes theyre clear and distressing , at other times a jumbled mess of painful words and images that dont materialize into something cohesive.
The feelings and thoughts leave the sufferer in a horrible place. Their world tips sideways and they feel like theyre slipping off the edge.
In PTSD, these memories are linked to traumatic events from the past, a castrophic moment in life that balloons out of control every time theres a trigger.
So how does a person with PTSD navigate through these triggers? Here are some methods that can help with those difficult moments.
Immediate rescue: ground yourself.
Grounding is a technique that brings attention back to the present, allowing you to create space between the effect of the trigger and you. Its a profoundly effective do-it-yourself intervention that everyone with PTSD should have in their toolbox.
Triggers carry us to the past, a roller-coaster trip of places we dont want to go. They also make us worry about a doubtful future. Everything looks bleak. When this happens, when the past is so painful its intolerable and the future is so scary youre not ready to go there, focus on the now.
Preventing: rewrite those thoughts.
Identify the trigger and problem thought
After The Threat Has Passed
When the threat has passed, you are left with a strong, negative emotional memory of the experience, but you lack clear recollection of the context of the event. In other words, you may learn to associate individual sights, smells, and sounds from the event with danger, but be unable to recall the sequence of events clearly.
Later on, if you encounter things that remind you of the traumatic event, like a smell that was present when it happened, your amygdala will retrieve that memory and respond strongly signaling that you are in danger and automatically activating your fight-or-flight system. This is why during a flashback, you start sweating, your heart races, and you breath heavily your amygdala has set off a chain reaction to prepare your body to respond against a threat.
Normally when your amygdala senses a possible threat, your hippocampus will then kick in to bring in context from past memories to determine whether or not you are really in danger. But because the hippocampus wasnt functioning properly during the traumatic experience, the context of the memory wasnt stored, and theres no feedback system to tell your amygdala this situation is different and youre not in danger. Also, since the memory is retrieved without context like where or when the experience happened, you might even feel like the traumatic experience is happening again.
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Finding A Therapist For Ptsd
When looking for a therapist, seek out mental health professionals who specialize in the treatment of trauma and PTSD. You can ask your doctor or other trauma survivors for a referral, call a local mental health clinic, psychiatric hospital, or counseling center.
Beyond credentials and experience, its important to find a PTSD therapist who makes you feel comfortable and safe. Trust your gut if a therapist doesnt feel right, look for someone else. For therapy to work, you need to feel comfortable and understood.
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Regain Focus Through Physical Activity
Many people who have been diagnosed with PTSD say that finding an enjoyable physical activity that they can perform regularly has helped them to reduce their levels of stress and cope with their symptoms.
Rebecca Thorne, who was diagnosed with PTSD following childhood trauma, explains how running has helped her to cope with the symptoms that were impacting her life.
I am a runner and I suffer from , she says. One of the many things I think about while Im running, and also when Im not, is the relationship between the two.
I embrace running in all weathers , always with a considerable amount of ascent. As I fight my way up the climbs, I often imagine that the hill is my illness and I am going to slowly and steadily conquer it. Yet it never feels like suffering and, once at the top of the hill, I can reach out and touch the sky.
Researchers from Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge in the United Kingdom found thatsurfing can be an effective coping strategy for war veterans diagnosed with PTSD.
According to the team, this sport helps veterans to attain a focused mind state known as flow, in which they are so absorbed in the activity they are performing that all other thoughts and emotions are pushed aside.
Dr. Nick Caddick, who was involved with the study, compares this with the effects of mindfulness meditation, just that it is more active. He calls it a moving form of mindfulness.
Get Your Daily Routines And Rituals In Place
Most people who experience a crisis lose that ability to get up, eat, care for themselves, and then move about their day. The sooner you re-establish your daily routine the better.
When children are involved the recommendation is the sooner you can resume family rituals the better. Get back to your spiritual home. Remember to have some sort of ritual in your life birthdays, Christmas, or any other familiar activity makes everyone feel better.
Returning to a job or other activity can be a great way to begin your recovery. If you cant work at a paid job consider volunteering. Having a reason to get up and out of the house can jump-start your recovery.
A regular and consistent amount of sleep is important. So is some form of exercise. Be as consistent as possible with mealtimes and bedtimes. Include time for relaxation and positive activities.
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Can You Get Rid Of Ptsd By Yourself
Like most types of mental health conditions, there is no definitive cure for PTSD. But it can be effectively managed.
For most folks living with this condition, a combination of medication, trauma therapies, and self-care techniques is most effective. These treatments can mitigate symptoms and help you process the traumatic event that triggered them.
With the right treatment, people with PTSD live happy, fulfilled lives in which they feel safe. The following self-care tips can be used with any treatments recommended by your doctor or psychiatrist.
Heal Your Adrenal Glands
The adrenal glands generate our natural stress response, otherwise known as the fight or flight response. These hormones include the stress hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline, as well as cortisol. They are central to much of the emotional and mental experience of PTSD. The stress response is the link between the brain and body, where a stressful thought or memory will have a physical impact, causing the body to release hormones that cause anxiety symptoms like panic attacks or irritability. If the adrenals are overstimulated, then the brains ability to function is subsequently affected.
Restoring a healthier hormone balance can make you feel more relaxed during the day, as well as help you get to sleep better. There are a variety of supplements that can assist with this, including the herb rhodiola rosea, which has been used for centuries as a tool for rebalancing stressed adrenal glands. Following a diet like the Adrenal Fatigue Diet may also assist with getting your adrenal glands back on track.
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Arousal And Reactivity Symptoms Include:
- Being easily startled
- Feeling tense or on edge
- Having difficulty sleeping
- Having angry outbursts
Arousal symptoms are usually constant, instead of being triggered by things that remind one of the traumatic events. These symptoms can make the person feel stressed and angry. They may make it hard to do daily tasks, such as sleeping, eating, or concentrating.
Can Anything Help Get Rid Of Ptsd Flashbacks
Reviewed by Melinda Gladden, LCSW
Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a psychiatric illness that happens to those who have experienced some kind of traumatic incidents like a violent attack, natural disaster, or combat in the military service. It is also common in those who are victims of ongoing emotional, sexual, or physical abuse. It affects more than 3.5% of adults in the United States with women being twice as likely to develop the disorder.
Those with PTSD experience disturbing feelings and thoughts that are related to the traumatic incident. It may happen right away, or it could be months or years after the incident. One of the reasons why it is hard to diagnose is because of this delay in the onset of symptoms.
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Treatments For Traumatic Stress
Psychologists can provide evidence-based interventions to help you cope with traumatic stress or acute stress disorder.
One is Psychological First Aid , originally designed to help children, adolescents, adults, and families in the aftermath of a disaster or terrorism. Its now used to help people who have experienced any type of trauma. PFA is based on the idea that distress is normal after a traumatic event. Rather than treat that stress like a disorder, the focus of this approach is to provide support and assistance and share information about stress reactions and coping strategies. Mental health providers and disaster response workers provide PFA in the days and weeks after a trauma, in diverse settings including hospitals, housing shelters, community settings, and even over telephone crisis hotlines. The goal of PFA is to reduce distress and improve coping and functioning, both short-term and long-term.
Another evidence-based treatment is , or CBT, which is successfully used to treat many psychological disorders, including traumatic stress. CBT is a psychological treatment that helps people learn to change unhelpful thinking and behavioral patterns. The World Health Organization recommends trauma-focused CBT to treat symptoms of acute traumatic stress in adults. Some research also suggests that people who receive trauma-focused CBT may be less likely to develop chronic PTSD.
If you or a loved one is struggling to recover from a traumatic event, a psychologist can help.
Can Ptsd Be Cured
The above treatments have been known to improve symptoms, restore self-esteem, and teach individuals with the disorder the proper skills to cope with it. However, adapting these skills wont necessarily make the disorder go away.
While there are several successful ways to relieve symptoms of PTSD, there is no specific cure. People can live perfectly happy and successful lives with the disorder as long as they take the necessary steps to accept their past and move forward with their future.
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Children And Young People
Trauma-focused CBT is usually recommended for children and young people with PTSD.
This normally involves a course of 6 to 12 sessions that have been adapted to suit the child’s age, circumstances and level of development.
Where appropriate, treatment includes consulting with and involving the child’s family.
Children who do not respond to trauma-focused CBT may be offered EMDR.
Eye Movement Desensitization And Reprocessing
With EMDR, you might not have to tell your therapist about your experience. Instead, you concentrate on it while you watch or listen to something they’re doing — maybe moving a hand, flashing a light, or making a sound.
The goal is to be able to think about something positive while you remember your trauma. It takes about 3 months of weekly sessions.
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Have Patience With Yourself And The Persistence To Work Through Your Problems
Recovery does not happen all at once. There may be sudden leaps forward or slips back but a continued effort will get you to recovery.
Use tools like positive affirmations. You are a worthwhile person no matter what has happened to you. Give yourself credit for the things you accomplish.
You can recover from Complex Trauma or Complex PTSD.
Staying connected with David Joel Miller
Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!
My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. Ive been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.
Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.
Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.
As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.
Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.
Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.
Planned Accidents The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.