What is PTSD? Who can get PTSD? Can Hypnotherapy help with PTSD?
So, who can get PTSD? what is it?? When we think of post-traumatic stress, we usually think of someone returning from a war zone, or perhaps someone who has been raped or attacked and indeed these are classic situations for PTSD, but also abuse situations, accidents, victims of violent crime, relationship break ups, emotional bullying, serious illness, dramatic life changes and bereavements can trigger PTSD symptoms. It usually results from situations which made the person experiencing them, feels that events were outside their control, they felt extreme fear, shock, horror or powerlessness.
The events we are all living through now, a pandemic, for many brings feelings of powerlessness and fear, especially with the constant media messages that we are exposed to that relentlessly remind us to be afraid, let alone those working in the NHS on the frontline who have been exposed to death on such a huge scale including deaths of young and healthy colleagues. We are now only beginning to understand the scale of the relationship between Covid and PTSD.
What are the key signs of PTSD? Here are just some of them, I have to say here that having a couple of these does not mean you have PTSD but they can be indicators:
· Flashbacks to the event that are intrusive and unexpected, often manifesting as nightmares or night terrors, the event feels very current too, not back in the past.
· Avoidance of situations that are linked to the even if that link is tenuous
· A numbed emotional state where you can no longer relate to or empathise with others, or indeed your own personal experience, a dissociated state
· Many people with PTSD have a physical manifestation of pain reflecting the psychological pain.
· Some people feel alienated from the world, always taking a negative view on potential situations, a negative bias, this can lead to self-harming may result and anIncreased risk of suicidal thoughts
· Panic attacks
In a situation where a person has felt trauma, the nervous system will have triggered what we know of as the fight/flight response, they do not have to consciously think about it, it just happens at a primal subconscious level. We know now that there is more to this system there is also the freeze response, where in the animal kingdom a creature will freeze to avoid being detected by a predator, in a crisis situation someone will experience being literally frozen and unable to act. There is also the state that is sometimes called, flop or collapse, in the animal world this would be playing dead. An animal is unlikely to attack something that looks dead as it may be diseased, this manifests in the human world as a complete inability to act, to function normally, an inert form of depression and paralysis. Whichever way the stress has affected someone it is tough to live with for them and those around them.
So, can hypnotherapy help with PTSD? Someone suffering from trauma feels like the situation is still current, they are locked in the fear, we may be able to help unlock this trapped feeling and move the person forward, we can look at triggers for the acute response and work at neutralising them. We know so much more about how the nervous system works now and hypnotherapy can work towards soothing/calming the nervous system and dealing with stress. There is an increasing amount of research out there into hypnotherapy and PTSD, you can check out some Hypnotherapy and PTSD research . If you would like to read a personal story about recovery from trauma using hypnotherapy BAThH have a story on their website here.
For some people the experience of living through the pandemic has triggered PTSD, being constantly fed fear through the media, has led to an acute stress response that may take some time to process, if you are still struggling with pandemic stress, going out into nature can help and there is a technique you can use that you can do for yourself, you can create a positive resource in nature. If you are considering hypnotherapy, make sure your therapist is properly qualified to work with your problem/condition. To find out more about how hypnotherapy can help with stress of any kind you can contact me at Zetta@headtogether.co.uk