Understanding PTSD and Finding Relief
I have only been a Board Certified Holistic Practitioner for a few months but I have identified a target market that I would like to work with.
I would like to work with women over the age of 50 who are dealing with PTSD or some sort of life trauma that is blocking them from achieving the degree of wellness they would like. I have chosen this market as I myself have had more than one episode of PTSD in my life and have experience in working through it.
For those who are new to the acronym PTSD, it stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This term is relatively new and became much more understood following the Vietnam war.
Many veterans developed PTSD after their time served during war and exposure to violence, death and destruction.
In the past twenty years the diagnosis has become much more common and is much more widespread than just those who have served in the war. It can affect any person at any time in the life continuum. Many people develop PTSD after just witnessing a serious accident or violent act. Still others may suffer PTSD after living in a domestic violence situation, or as children being exposed to parental strife and violent behavior in the home. Some people suffer this condition following a rape or other assault on their person and still others from having been violated by crimes that take their money or personal items.
I myself was first told I had PTSD following a difficult relationship with a violent man. I suspect I had problems well before this that allowed me to enter into such a relationship in the first place. Regardless the diagnosis made sense to me. I recall being very hyper vigilant with increased startle reflex and a feeling that I must always be in a state of preparedness. Ready to flee at any moment.
When a person lives in this state they can develop anxiety and depression; sleep disorders and trouble just functioning in day to day life.
But there is hope for sufferers of PTSD to live a normal life and actually improve their overall wellbeing.
Let's look at some statistics. Studies show that going through trauma is not rare. About 6 of every 10 (or 60%) of men and 5%(or 50%) of women experience at least one trauma in their lives.
Women are more likely to experience sexual assault and child sexual abuse. Men are more likely to experience accidents, physical assault, combat, disaster, or to witness death or injury.
Trauma can be defined as a shocking and scary event that you see or that happens to you. Going through a trauma does not mean that you'll develop PTSD. Even though over 50% of us go through some type of trauma, a much smaller percentage actually develop PTSD.
In the US:
About 7-8% of the population will develop some degree of PTSD in their lifetime.
About 5.2 million adults have PTSD in a given year.
About 10% of women develop PTSD in their lives compared with 4% of men.
Who are the people most likely to develop PTSD?
Persons who were directly exposed to trauma as a victim or a witness
Persons who were seriously hurt during the event; that can be physically or emotionally.
Persons who endured trauma that lasted for a lengthy period; such as living in an abusive marriage for several years.
Persons that felt helpless during the trauma and were unable to help themselves or another.
One is also more likely to develop PTSD if they:
Had an earlier life-threatening event or trauma such as being abused as a child.
Having another mental health problem such as depression or anxiety.
Some other statistics show that persons who drink a lot of alcohol, are women, poorly educated and younger are also more likely to develop PTSD.
What can be done
Let's look at options for treatment of PTSD. There are several very good therapies that will help a person deal with a trauma so that they can release it's hold on them and they can find relief and recovery.
Seeing a therapist is a great place to start. Either an LCSW or Psychologist can be extremely helpful in using talk therapy and guided imagery to help a victim of PTSD. Just allowing a victim to speak in a safe environment to a trained professional can be very successful in having them recapture their sense of security within themselves.
Some of these therapists will also employ the use of EMDR. Let's look at what EMDR stands for. It means Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. The therapist which can be an LCSW or Psychologist will devote approximately 90 minutes per session for the procedure. It is done by following either a lighted panel or the therapists fingers back and forth with the eyes. First the therapist will take you back through the trauma. She'll have you relax and close your eyes and become meditative. The client will describe the feelings around the trauma. Sometimes this can awaken very strong reactions as though the trauma is recurring. This occurs most often in the earlier sessions before the client has been desensitized. Over a period of several weeks and sessions the client will return again and again to the trauma and each time they should find that it has less and less of an impact on their psyche. Ultimately after completion of therapy the person should be able to think about the trauma but not experience the same charge that has disturbed them in the past.
I personally experienced this therapy with excellent results. It did take revisiting the same episode of trauma repeatedly over several weeks but I was able to recover from the PTSD around this particular event.
Another therapy that is newer than EMDR is NLR or Neuro Linguistic Reprogramming. This technique uses language to interrupt and recreate neural pathways to optimize brain functioning. Ultimately it will reframe, reroute and redesign memories, feelings etc about the trauma. Again the client will find themselves recovered from what once was upsetting. The trauma is not forgotten, it just no longer carries the same charge.
There is also TFT which is Thought Field Therapy. This uses the method of "tapping" over the same meridians used during acupuncture. This will work in the same way as the above therapies to desensitize the client to the trauma.
There is also hypnosis which most people are familiar with. The technique is different than the above methods, but will ultimately have the same desired effect of recognizing the trauma but eliminating it's charge or control over the person's psyche.
Other methods of support and relief
Some people aren't in a position financially to take advantage of these therapies. There are in most states and counties programs that will offer Mental Health therapy on a sliding scale making the use of treatment more affordable. One can check in their local city for such programs. In Colorado each county had their own Mental Health department which could be accessed on a sliding scale. I took advantage of this program through both Larimer and Adams county many years ago.
Other's may not wish to go the route of paid therapy.
I would encourage anyone who is suffering from PTSD or suspects that this could be the root of their problems to seek some sort of assistance. If one goes on untreated for a length of time their symptoms can worsen and they can decompensate and develop other, less suitable coping mechanisms. Alcohol abuse rises in this population when they are untreated as well as drug abuse and other self destructive behaviors.
As a Health Coach and Holistic Practitioner I want to be able to meet clients where they are in the process and help them with talk therapy. What that entails is having a session for 50 minutes and allowing the client to speak freely about their perceived issues as they relate to PTSD. I can not replace the work of a trained psychologist or other mental health worker, but I can be helpful in adjunctive treatment. That would entail listening to the client and helping them frame how the problem is affecting their health. Perhaps the client suffering from PTSD who seeks out a Health Coach would benefit from learning how to create life balance. Maybe changing the diet is one way they can improve their well being. If one is addicted to sugar, or a compulsive eater to cope with their stress, I can help them find other alternatives to sugar and mindless eating to help them. Assisting the client to journal, talk about the problem, find healthier eating choices and develop an exercise plan are only some of the areas I can help them.
Some people will thrive just being listened to! One thing lacking among people in our busy world today is just being heard. Many people live alone and keep overly busy with work or activity. They feel that nobody cares or nobody has the time to listen.
I, as a Health Coach will listen and then share with you what it is I heard. I can help you find what you are looking for to feel at your ultimate best. Maybe it's as simple as eliminating sugar and adding more fresh vegetables. Maybe it's finding an outlet like boxing or jogging to release endorphins and feel more control in their body.
There are many paths to wellness. I want to guide you on your own path.
PTSD does not have to be a life sentence! There is life after trauma. Let me help guide you to your best life!
PTSD:National Center for PTSD