Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a severe emotional condition that may develop after a person is exposed to one or more traumatic events, such as sexual assault, serious injury or the threat of death. The diagnosis is given when a group of symptoms such as disturbing recurring flashbacks, avoidance or numbing of memories of the event, and hyperarousal (high levels of anxiety) persist for more than a month after the traumatic event.
Complex PTSD occurs when there is repetitive exposure to trauma and is considered much more severe.”
Secondary trauma refers to the witnessing of traumatic events.
Because trauma overwhelms the nervous system, it is important to know there are ways to get help when you have experienced it. New techniques which focus on the physical/neurological aspects of trauma as well as the emotional impact of life-altering events are now available.
Talk therapy alone has not proven to be effective in treating PTSD. Therapies that involve the body are critical in addressing PTSD symptoms.
Examples of the newest mind-body therapies for overcoming the effect trauma has on our nervous system and our ability to cope are EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and Brainspotting (BSP). Both of these techniques use an approach to psychotherapy that is effective in identifying, processing and releasing deep neurophysiological sources of physical and emotional pain caused by trauma. The disturbing memories of trauma are stored deep within the brain. EMDR and BSP help release these stressors because they access and release trauma at the deeper level of the autonomic nervous system and the brain’s limbic system.
An advantage of BSP is that one does not have to relive the traumatic event at the same level of intensity as the original trauma. This makes it possible to resolve the trauma in a more controlled manner. With the support of the therapist, BSP helps the client release the trauma and calm the nervous system.
For those who have experienced the devastating effects of trauma on their minds and bodies, these therapies are truly cause for “new hope for the brain.”
Brain wave patterns in PTSD are similar to those seen in anxiety except that they tend to be seen in the parietal lobe. Very fast brain waves are seen both in the frontal and parietal lobes of the brain.
A brain wave evaluation will reveal these patterns, if present. Neurofeedback training to reduce the presence of this fast wave form will assist in the management of the stress associated with PTSD.