Unfortunately, the need for us humans to deal with trauma and traumatic events is on the rise, as shown in a US report where over a ten-year period, between 2000 and 2010, a 22.8% increase in trauma deaths was reported. This is further backed up by a survey conducted in 24 countries that showed more than 70% of respondents experienced a traumatic event, and 30.5% had experienced four or more traumatic events and were in need of trauma treatment.
With trauma diagnosis numbers on the rise, the need for trauma treatment and therapy options is on the rise, so what trauma/PTSD treatment options are there?
Common Trauma Treatment Options
Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing Therapy PTSD/Trauma Treatment
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a relatively new type of psychotherapy that is becoming increasingly popular, particularly for treating trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Trauma often occurs after experiences such as military combat, physical assault, rape, or car accidents. At first glance, EMDR approaches psychological issues in an unusual way. It does not rely on talk therapy or medications.
Instead, EMDR is a Structured non-talk therapy that encourages the patient to briefly focus on the memory of a traumatic event while simultaneously stimulating a patient’s own rapid, rhythmic eye movements ( for example, stimulation could involve watching a hand or light alternating from the left to right continuously). These eye movements lessen the power of emotionally charged memories of past traumatic events.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy PTSD/Trauma Treatment
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is one of the most common talking therapies available to treat mental health issues like PTSD and Trauma.
CBT therapy can be broken down into two parts: cognition (what you think) and behaviour (what you do).How you behave often depends on how you think, Cognitive behavioural Therapy (CBT) aims to help you to comprehend your thoughts and to think more positively about particular things. Changing how you think can also change how you feel, act, and relate to others.
CBT focuses on your mind’s state in the present and does not necessarily focus on finding out the causes of your problems.
Prolonged Exposure Therapy PTSD/Trauma Treatment
Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PET) is an intervention method commonly used in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to help individuals confront fears by gradually approaching trauma-related memories, feelings and situations.
Most people naturally try to avoid anything that reminds them of the trauma they encountered, but doing so strengthens their fear. By facing what has been avoided, a person can lessen symptoms of PTSD by actively understanding that the trauma-related memories and triggers are not harmful and do not need to be avoided.
Prolonged exposure is generally provided over a period of about three months with weekly individual sessions, resulting in eight to fifteen sessions overall.
Emerging Trauma Treatment Options
Light Brainwave Entrainment stimulates the brain into entering a specific state by using high-frequency LED light. This light recalibrates brain activity, prompting the brain’s ‘frequency following’ response. Doing so induces a desirable brainwave state, for example, relaxation, meditation, focused and clearer thinking. Simply put, brainwave entrainment pushes the brain into a particular state, adjusting or interrupting the brain’s response to certain situations. Effectively reprogramming how your brain processes and responds.
Brainwave Entrainment helps many people facing various mental health-related challenges, including PTSD, trauma, depression, stress, anxiety, insomnia and chronic fatigue. It is a simple yet effective way to lead your mind into states you might usually find difficult to reach.
MDMA, more popularly known as ecstasy, is a psychoactive drug that acts as a stimulant. As a stimulant, it has an energising effect, heightens your senses, and boosts emotions like self-awareness and empathy. Experts are tapping into MDMA’s effects as part of therapy for severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). MDMA-assisted psychotherapy uses prescribed doses of MDMA in addition to psychotherapy sessions.
Because MDMA appears to reduce anxiety associated with traumatic experience recollection, it can help increase insight and memory. Negative memories may feel less confronting, allowing the patient and Therapist to have productive therapeutic sessions without the patient becoming overly anxious due to stress.
Theta Burst Stimulation (TBS)
Theta-burst stimulation (also known as TBS) is a different form of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS or rTMS). TBS is an alternative treatment option for some mental health conditions like PTSD/Trauma. The treatment encourages cortical activity in the area of the brain responsible for mood and emotion by applying magnetic pulses in a particular pattern called bursts. 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).
Theta-Burst Stimulation is safe and effective with little or no side effects. TBS works similarly to TMS and is administered over the prefrontal cortex.
Behavioural activation is a branch of therapy that focuses on how someone’s environment shapes their actions and, therefore, their mental health. As a treatment for PTSD/Trauma or other mood disorders, behavioural activation is based on the idea that humans tend to avoid and isolate themselves as they deal with trauma or become depressed. This behaviour has a tendency to maintain or worsen their symptoms. The goal of treatment is to work with patients suffering from depression to slowly decrease their isolation and avoidance and increase their engagement in activities that have been shown to improve their mood. People can “initiate” a positive emotional state by purposefully practising certain behaviours. The practice is based on the simple principle that engaging in healthy or fulfilling activities makes someone feel good, making them more likely to keep participating in those activities.
Stellate Ganglion Blocks
The Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) is one of the newest treatment options for reducing PTSD symptoms. SBG is an injection of local anesthetic into the sympathetic nerve tissue of the neck. It works by affecting the nerves near the voice box. It is administered with the help of an ultrasound or x-ray imaging by a doctor or other healthcare professional.The Stellate Ganglion has a nervous system connection with the brain center (Amygdala), activated in patients experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder. Stellate Ganglion Block reduces the nerve impulses and messages sent to the brain center, thereby providing relief to the symptoms of PTSD.
A research study published in 2020 compared the effects of SGB treatment with a placebo treatment. Results showed that although the placebo group saw an improvement in their symptoms of 15%, the group receiving SGB improved by 34%. The study’s conclusion noted SGB as a positive part of PTSD treatment. Understandably not everybody is open to such invasive ways of treating their PTSD and trauma symptoms.
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.