PTSD and Trauma Symptoms & Treatment
In the blog we look into PTSD and Trauma Symptoms and Treatment. We look at What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is, What PTSD and Trauma Symptoms look like and what and treatment options are.
It’s a popular misconception that the diagnosis of PTSD or Trauma is reserved for those who have bravely served our country or those first responders who support us during crisis, be that paramedics, firefighters or police. However, this is far from the truth, as PTSD/Trauma can impact anyone.
PTSD and Trauma Symptoms
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms typically fit into four main categories:
1. Intrusive Memories
Symptoms may include:
- Physical reaction or emotional distress to something that reminds you of the traumatic event
- distressing memories of the traumatic event
- Flashbacks – Reliving the traumatic event
- Dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event
Symptoms may include:
- Trying to avoid talking or thinking about the traumatic event
- Avoiding places, people or activities that remind you of the traumatic event
3. Negative changes in thinking and mood
Symptoms may include:
- Feeling detached from family and friends
- Feeling emotionally numb or struggling to experience positive emotions
- Negative thoughts and emotions
- Memory problems, including those linked to the traumatic event
- Difficulty maintaining close relationships
- Withdrawal – lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
4. Changes in physical and emotional reactions
Symptoms may include:
- Being startled or frightened easily
- Sleeping issues
- Being on guard for danger
- Self-destructive behaviour
- Concentration issues
- Irritability or angry outbursts
- Overwhelming shame or guilt
PTSD and Trauma Treatments?
PTSD requires professional treatment. Like all mental health illnesses, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to therapy and treatment. Each has its own set of benefits. What’s most important is how you resonate with each treatment option or treatment provider. How well a treatment works and how receptive your body and mind are could be determined by the person, environment or the treatment itself. So do your research, look around and try (where possible) different options. It could be a single treatment option that relieves symptoms or a series of therapies.
To help, here is a rundown of some treatment options, both well-known and emerging. What are they and how can they help?
Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing Therapy PTSD/Trauma Treatment
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an effective psychotherapy method proven to help people recover from post-traumatic stress, trauma, or other distressing life experiences. EMDR approaches psychological issues not via ‘talk therapy’ or medications. Instead, EMDR uses a patient’s own rapid, rhythmic eye movements to lessen the power of emotional memories from past traumatic events.
EMDR uses an eight-phase treatment approach, where therapy involves attention to three time periods: the past, present, and future. Focus is given to past disturbing memories, related events, and current situations that cause distress.
Brainwave Entrainment PTSD/Trauma Treatment
Certain types of stimulation impact our brain function more than others. These can ‘buildup’, causing our brain function to change over time. Mainly the difficult, challenging or traumatic tasks, roles and experiences life throws at us.
Light Brainwave Entrainment stimulates the brain into entering a specific state by using high-frequency LED light. This light recalibrates brain activity, evoking the brain’s ‘frequency following’ response. An induced brainwave state can include enhanced focus, relaxation, meditation, or sleep induction. Simply put, brainwave entrainment pushes the entire brain into a particular state, adjusting or interrupting the brain’s response to certain situations. Essentially reprogramming how your brain processes and responds.
Brainwave Entrainment works for a wide range of people facing a wide range of mental health and happiness-related challenges. Including stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, chronic fatigue and PTSD. It is a simple yet effective way to lead your mind into states you might usually find difficult to reach, allowing you to experience what those states feel like. It does not require face-to-face interaction as seen in talk therapies, meaning it can feel more accessible and less intrusive as a therapeutic treatment.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy PTSD/Trauma Treatment
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is a ‘talking therapy’ available to treat mental health issues by addressing unhelpful thought patterns or problematic thoughts. The idea behind CBT is that certain feelings or beliefs you have about yourself or situations in your life can lead to distress. Focus is applied to your present state of mind without necessarily focusing on finding the causes of your problems. For Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder/Trauma, Cognitive Therapy often is used alongside exposure therapy.
One-third of those who completed CBT achieved high-end state functioning after six months. This equates to a 53% reduction of PTSD symptoms; these results were maintained at the 6-month follow-up mark.
Prolonged Exposure Therapy PTSD/Trauma Treatment
Prolonged exposure therapy is a form of psychotherapy for post-traumatic stress disorder. After a traumatic event, people can experience unwanted thoughts and feelings, disturbing nightmares, depression and hypervigilance. If you experience any of these symptoms, you understandably want to avoid them as they remind you of the trauma.
The goal of prolonged exposure therapy is to gradually help you re-engage with life, especially with things you have been avoiding, making memories of the events less fearful. Patients talk about their traumas with therapists safely and listen to recordings of their trauma narratives in between sessions. Doing so will strengthen your ability to distinguish safety from danger and decrease your PTSD symptoms.
MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy PTSD/Trauma Treatment
MDMA-assisted psychotherapy uses prescribed doses of MDMA in addition to psychotherapy sessions. Research suggests that MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD, including Complex PTSD, might improve treatment effectiveness.
In May 2021, promising results were released from a clinical trial testing MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to treat PTSD.
Theta Burst Stimulation (TBS) PTSD/Trauma Treatment
A 2020 study completed by Australian researchers from the Centre for Post-traumatic Mental Health reported on a pilot study that used TBS. This study published in Military Medicine showed that TBS is a more powerful and effective form of TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation). TBS mimics the human brain’s natural “theta rhythms” to evoke potent effects. TBS has shown to improve depressive disorders in Australian veterans with PTSD.
Theta is the frequency our brains use when learning new things or adjusting to new environments, thus making TBS therapy superior to previous forms of TMS in treating Major Depressive Disorder (MDD or simply depression).
In conclusion, there are various treatment options to help reduce the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder/Trauma, each with its own benefits and merits, but what’s right for you can only be determined by you. So, look around and do your research. If you liked the treatment but not the therapist or provider, keep searching till you find a treatment, treatment provider and environment that works for you and your PTSD/Trauma symptoms.