Are you experiencing the effects of PTSD?

The subconscious mind gets stuck on the traumatic event, like a needle on a vinyl record, causing the event to keep replaying.

by Maria Troia — 

You need not have directly experienced a traumatic event in order to exhibit signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, it is more common for those who have suffered PTSD in the past to develop the condition more easily after hearing disturbing news, such as 9/11 and the January shootings in Tucson, Ariz.

When such tragic headlines emerge, everyone is affected. The normal response to trauma is typically short-lived, though. When feelings of fear and anxiety subside, the intensity of the emotions gradually lessens. This usually takes a few days, but sometimes it can take weeks. When the feelings do not subside, however, or if they begin to feel more pronounced, it is possible that you are experiencing PTSD. The subconscious mind gets stuck on the traumatic event, like a needle on a vinyl record, causing the event to keep replaying. The event feels like it is happening over and over.

Some common indicators

Common signs of PTSD are fear, sadness, anxiousness and irritability. Some people feel disconnected from life or emotionally numb. Others feel overly vigilant. PTSD can affect sleep patterns, causing insomnia and nightmares. Still others might feel lethargic and want to sleep or nap frequently. There might also be a change in appetite — either not eating or overeating as a response to stress.

Children exhibit PTSD a little differently than adults. They often express a fear of being separated from a parent. Some might forget previously acquired skills, like potty training. They might engage in play where aspects of the trauma are incorporated, depicted or acted out. Sudden and generalized new phobias might arise that are not always obviously related to the trauma. Aches and pains, such as stomach aches with no apparent cause, might develop. Some children become irritable or aggressive.

The body/mind connection in PTSD

Heightened emotional stress is recorded in the fascia, the connective tissue that runs throughout the body in a three-dimensional web. Fascia wraps around all of our biological structures: muscles, nerves, blood vessels, bones and organs. Research is now showing that fascia even surrounds our cells and provides the intracellular matrix, influencing health all the way down to the cellular level.

In the person with PTSD, the fascia tightens and torques, creating a straightjacket of up to 2,000 pounds of pressure, which compresses vital structures and prevents flow in the body. The result is feeling as though you simultaneously have one foot on the gas pedal and one on the brake pedal. Your blood pressure goes up. You are locked into either a fight or flight response. The subconscious mind is convinced that tigers are chasing you, even though you are perfectly safe, and the body’s systems respond accordingly. This is not how our bodies are engineered to work in nonstressful times.

Ways to treat PTSD

The John Barnes Approach to Myofascial Release (MFR) is an advanced form of bodywork that engages the body/mind complex, relaxing the straightjacket of connective tissue.

MFR unifies body and mind, and allows the patient to experience the emotional trauma in real time, in a safe place. Experiencing the emotion in a safe setting allows the subconscious to process that the trauma and stress are over.

Patients report feeling calm and clear, immediately after one session. The foot comes off the brake pedal, and the nervous system can let up on the accelerator. The vehicle that is your body can now operate and navigate life at a safe speed again. Because body and mind are integrated in this method, the results are lasting.

AMMA Therapy is a form of Korean bodywork — a full-body massage where the practitioner assesses the energy flow in the body by examining the tongue and pulse, and also asking questions about the patient’s physical and emotional state. There are certain point combinations used in AMMA Therapy for PTSD, which help the patient to calm emotions, breathe more easily, rest and sleep better and restore overall appetite and balance.

Bach Flower Remedies are natural remedies discovered by British physician Dr. Edward Bach and are derived from the essences of flowers. A personalized formula contains up to seven of the 38 essences and is selected based on a client interview, lasting approximately 45 to 60 minutes. The formula lasts about three to four weeks. The remedies balance emotions, restoring them to their natural state. Among the many emotions that can be brought into balance with the Bach remedies are: fear, a tendency to relive past events or repeat old patterns, a need to feel protected, and feeling tired and lethargic.

As with any therapy, the sooner the imbalance is identified and treated, the easier it is to release that negative layer of emotion and restore overall balance and health. If you think you are experiencing even minor signs of PTSD, whatever the cause, it is easier to address it while it is closer to the surface.

 

Maria Troia, MSEd, LMT, NCTMB, CH is trained in the John Barnes Approach to Myofascial Release and AMMA Therapy® and is certified by the Bach Foundation. She is a NCBTMB continuing education provider and owner of East-West Holistic Healing Arts in Old Town Scottsdale, Ariz. 480-313-6260 or www.EastWestHolistic.net.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 30, Number 1, Feb/Mar 2011.

 

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