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Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Holistic approaches to PTSD ...

Many people have different ways of treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder but ultimately it's the sufferer that has to choose which approach to go with.

Some of the options are:

Accupuncture
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
Counselling
Creative therapies
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)
Herbal medication
Martial arts and other exercise
Meditation
Native American (First Nations)medicine
Spiritual healing
Western medication


The more open-minded you are, the more options you have.  If you believe things like accupuncture and shamanic healing are 'hocus pocus', they probably won't work for you, thereby limiting your treatment options.

My personal feeling is that different approaches offer different elements of medicine and an illness like PTSD has to be tackled on multiple fronts.


Accupuncture
I've been getting accupuncture treatment via the NHS now since 1996.   The pain management centre that looks after me had to make service cuts owing to budgetary requirements.  Rather than be honest about the fact that it was a fiscal consideration, the NHS produced a report that states that accupuncture is not beneficial after a period of 2 years.  I have Chronic Pain syndrome and PTSD.  I have been having accupuncture for 16 years now ... and it is still VERY helpful!

If you are in receipt of a war disability pension and there is no NHS service offering accupuncture, you can always write to the Veterans Agency, explain how beneficial the accupuncture is for you and ask them to pay for it. Beeston Accupuncture are an option if you aren't able to access such treatment via the NHS.  Alternatively, type in 'accupunture services' and your town/city to find a service near you.

Such treatments can make your symptoms worse at first, so persevere and give it a go.


Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
CBT is more about understanding the mechanisms of PTSD, how and why we have certain reactions to sertain sorts of circumstances, and about developing coping mechanisms to counter our normal reactions to those situations.


Counselling
Counselling gives you the space to sit and discuss your feelings about anything, in confidence, with a non-judgmental, impartial adult.  Some counsellors will be skilled in the use of other therapies on this list.  Isolation is one of the most damaging aspects of PTSD, just being able to sit and talk with someone that you can be open with is invaluable and can act as a release valve.


Unfortunately, the NHS isn't geared up to provide long term counselling.  All of the treatment options will run out in  matter of weeks or months.  Your only option then would be to pay for treatment yourself.  Some counselling services will charge you on a sliding scale dependent on your earnings though (eg Nottingham Counselling Services).  Type in 'counselling services' and your town/city to find a service near you.


Creative therapies 
I find creative therapies to be the most beneficial coping mechanism.  PTSD isn't just a mental health problem.  It can affect your physical being too ... and your 'spirit'.

Photography allows me to go out of my home and explore parts of the world that I would otherwise stay away from.  The joy that I feel when witnessing wildlife is invaluable ... and the joy is multiplied if I am fortunate enough to have captured the moment in the camera.

Writing allows me a way to vent negative feelings or to express positive emotions that would otherwise go unnoticed.  If we don't record the positive as well as the negative, we can lose touch with the fact that the former does still exist in our lives ... and that losing touch with something positive in our lives would be more damaging.

If you end up producing work that you want to publicise or share without giving away your Intellectual Property  rights - go to RespectIP and you'll find various tips to assist you.



Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR is a therapy that uses eye movement techniques while  reliving the traumatic moments.  This treatment can be accessed via Trauma therapists and various centres dealing specifically with PTSD.  Your GP may also be able to refer you.



Herbal medication
There are various medicines available that aren't as harmful or addictive as some of the 'western medicines'.  I use the following:
St Johns Wort (for depression related symptoms)
Valerian (for anxiety related symptoms)
Lemon Balm (for general mental well being)
Devils Claw (for pain relief)



You can find all these items at your local health food shop or search for them online.  Always make sure that they don't cause complications with other medication that you are using before taking any.  Also, monitor yourself carefully for allergies or side effects.  If you are using western medicines, consult your GP before purchasing any.



Martial arts and other exercise
One of my fears is hurting someone when reacting to a potentially violent situation.  I get this feeling of a steel door coming down.  It's locking away all emotions.  All that's left then is the target, action and reaction.  The red mist descends and all reason has now passed to a different zone.  This doesn't mean that I'm going to win a fight - it just means that I've said goodbye to life and am ready to die in the fight.

Training in a structured martial art can give you an element of control in a potentially violent situation and allow you to walk away.

Any physical exercise is good for you as it  releases endorphins into your system which help to counter the effects of stress.



Meditation
Meditation is a powerful tool when.  You can buy CDs of guided meditation from various sources; just search the net for 'guided meditation CD'.

If you attend the 'Combat Stress' centres for treatment, you can get a copy of theirs for a nominal fee.


Native American (First Nations)medicine
One aspect of a human being that the world of western medicine fails to treat is the 'spirit' of the person.  Most people don't know what their spirit is.  They'll have had no awareness or exposure to this concept.  Concept isn't a good word for something that is the basic energy of the Universe.

Trauma wounds the spirit.  When you look at the three areas it can affect (mind. body and spirit) the spirit is the area that can receive the greater wound.

In my experience, a cure isn't possible but I can learn how to live with and compensate for the condition to a degree.  If I was alone all of the time it wouldn't matter as I tend to be kind to myself.  Problems arise when I have to interact with humans that have no consideration for others and are lacking in courteous behaviour.

So I have to find ways of dealing with the exchange of energy that takes place at the more difficult incidents.  There are various ceremonies that can be learned to help one cope - in essence they're all exercises in dealing with the 'self'.  There are various circles and practitioners that offer help in this area.  However, don't be blinded by credentials.  It doesn't matter who they were taught by ... it's whether they can hold the energy for you to allow you to do what needs to be done.

Everything in life has a cycle or a pattern.  One of the tasks should be to explore oneself and chart the events related to condition to find out if there is a monthly cycle attributed to one's moods etc.

One of the most basic methods of clearing one's energy is to 'smudge'.  You can use dried white sage or some other herbs.  I'd start with this though.  To 'smudge', you put a match to the sage and then let it burn for a few seconds.  You then blow out the flame on the sage.  You will see the sage still smokes.  You then use a feather to waft the smoke over the person that you're smudging while holding a thought - that all negative energy is removed from this person and sent somewhere where it cannot hurt anyone or anything.  You can find out more about smudging on http://www.asunam.com/smudge_ceremony.html.

You can buy dried white calafornian sage from http://www.holisticshop.co.uk/products/white-sage-bag.  I advise that you buy the loose leaf variety rather than smudge sticks.  When you think you have extinguished the smudge sticks, they can still be smouldering at the centre and form a fire risk.

Again, do a search for circles near you or contact the Ehama Institute for guidance.

Do remember that there are many tribes with many ways of doing things.  Rather than thinking one is right or wrong, concentrate on finding a path that's right for you.
 

Spiritual healing
Spiritual Healing is a natural energy therapy that complements conventional medicine by treating the whole person - mind, body and spirit. Healers are thought to act as a conduit for healing energy, the benefits of which can be felt on many levels, including the physical.  Find out more on: http://www.thehealingtrust.org.uk/.





Western Medicine
I refer to prescribed medications as 'Western Medicine'.  I was first prescribed something for PTSD without my knowledge.  I was serving in the Metropolitan Police in London at the time.  The tablets were small and dark green (this was in 1987) and the effect was one of shutting down my 'alert sensors' (it's the only way I can describe it).  Working in any dangerous environment requires you to be very alert.  I remember taking the medication before going on uniformed duty and feeling as described.  when I finished that shift I flushed the tablets down the toilet.

I have since heard all sorts of horror stories from other veterans about the medications they've had. This keeps me away from prescribed medication in the main BUT it might be the right approach for you.  I would ask you to find out as much as you can about the medication before deciding to go down that route.  This is a forum for PTSD sufferers - you may find some useful information there: https://www.ptsdforum.org/c/threads/does-prescription-medication-help-your-ptsd.703/.

Access to these medicines is either via your General Physician or a Psychiatrist.  Your GP should always be your first port of call.  If you have an open minded GP, he/she may have access to the other options detailed above.

I hope that you found something useful here.

All the best

Wolf

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