PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is a mental health condition that can develop after a traumatic event. An estimated 8 million adults in the United States are affected by PTSD, yet only 4% receive treatment.
The most common treatment for PTSD is medication and psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy. But if you’re looking for alternative treatments for PTSD, this article is here to help.
From cannabis medicinal to EMDR, we’ve compiled a list of alternative therapies to consider when seeking relief from post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.
1. Exposure therapy
Exposure therapy is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that involves confronting and facing your fears. This can be done through exposure to a traumatic situation or imagination exercises.
For instance, if you experienced a traumatic event such as an assault, exposure therapy may involve talking about the incident or being exposed to objects associated with it, like a picture of the person who did it.
How does exposure therapy help?
Exposure therapy might seem counterintuitive, but it can help you to process and deal with the traumatic event. It targets the distress associated with memories and can reduce symptoms of PTSD in the long run.
That said, you shouldn’t start this type of therapy without the guidance and support of a mental health professional.
2. Medical cannabis
Cannabis gets a bad rap in the media, but recent research suggests that it could offer alternative treatments for PTSD. A few studies have found that medical marijuana can help alleviate symptoms of PTSD, such as nightmares, anxiety, and insomnia.
It’s important to note that cannabis isn’t legal in all states and countries. Additionally, it’s not recommended for individuals under the age of 18 or individuals with certain medical conditions.
How does medicinal cannabis help?
Studies suggest that cannabis can increase levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, leading to decreased anxiety and Improved sleep. It may also reduce stress-induced nightmares and flashbacks, common in people living with PTSD.
Typically, medical cannabis is taken in the form of oils, tinctures, capsules, or edibles. To get the best results, you must talk to your doctor about the right dosage for you.
3. Cognitive processing therapy
Cognitive processing therapy (CPT) is a type of psychotherapy that helps you to process and cope with traumatic experiences. It focuses on connecting past trauma with current reactions, beliefs, and behaviors.
It’s typically done in individual sessions with a mental health professional but can also be done online or in group settings. During the sessions, you’ll discuss your traumatic experiences and learn how to process them healthier.
How does cognitive processing therapy help?
CPT helps by helping you to identify the underlying beliefs or patterns associated with your trauma and understand how they affect your current life. It also teaches skills for managing and coping with distressful thoughts and feelings.
For instance, it can help you create new, healthier ways of thinking about your traumatic experiences and reduce symptoms such as avoidance, guilt, and fear.
4. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing
Another alternative treatment for PTSD is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). This therapy uses guided eye movements to help you process and make sense of traumatic events.
During EMDR, a therapist will ask you to focus on the traumatic event while they guide your eyes in back-and-forth movements. As you focus on the event, you’ll be asked to think of alternative ways to process it.
How does EMDR help?
EMDR is thought to work by allowing information from the traumatic experience to be stored in a more organized way. This helps reduce the distress and trauma associated with memories.
In turn, this can reduce symptoms such as anxiety, nightmares, and flashbacks. EMDR is usually done with the guidance of a trained mental health professional. EMDR is usually best when combined with other alternative treatments for PTSD, such as cognitive processing therapy.
5. Stress inoculation training
If you’re looking for alternative treatments for PTSD, you might also want to consider stress inoculation training. This type of therapy addresses the underlying causes of trauma and teaches skills to manage and cope with symptoms.
During this type of therapy, a mental health professional helps you develop coping strategies that can help reduce anxiety, fear, guilt, and shame associated with the traumatic event. This may involve relaxation techniques, cognitive restructuring, and behavior modification.
How does stress inoculation training help?
Stress inoculation training (SIT) helps individuals to recognize their own triggers and develop new strategies to avoid or reduce the distress associated with them.
It provides tools for managing anxiety and other symptoms of PTSD in order to improve coping skills and allow individuals to lead healthier, more fulfilling lives.
You may have thought acupuncture is just a bunch of needles, but it can also be effective for alternative treatments for PTSD. Acupuncture is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine and has been used as a form of healing for centuries.
The principles behind it are that energy flows through channels in the body, and if these channels become blocked, it can lead to physical or emotional issues.
During an acupuncture treatment, thin needles are inserted into various points along the body to help balance energy. This can reduce stress levels and improve overall well-being. In some cases, acupuncture can also help reduce symptoms of PTSD, such as nightmares, flashbacks, and panic attacks.
Does acupuncture help with PTSD?
Research suggests that acupuncture can be a helpful alternative treatment for PTSD. Specifically, it can be used to reduce symptoms such as depression, anxiety, irritability, and sleep disturbances by promoting relaxation.
7. Meditation and mindfulness
Like acupuncture, meditation and mindfulness can be alternative treatments for PTSD. Meditation involves focusing on the present moment and being aware of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judgment.
For example, you might focus on your breath and notice any thoughts or emotions that come up without attaching to them. Mindfulness is similar in that it involves being aware of the present moment without judging it.
It’s an effective way to reduce stress levels and improve well-being because it teaches you to stay in the moment and not dwell on past events.
How does meditation help with PTSD?
Studies have found that mindfulness-based therapies can be a helpful alternative treatment for PTSD.
Specifically, they can reduce symptoms such as intrusive thoughts, hyperarousal, and avoidance behavior. Additionally, they can also help increase self-compassion and self-acceptance, which can help reduce feelings of guilt and shame associated with PTSD.
8. Yoga and other forms of alternative exercise therapy
Exercise has long been known to help reduce stress levels and improve mental health. Yoga is one alternative form of exercise that has been found to be effective for alternative treatments for PTSD.
Yoga involves a combination of physical positions, breathing techniques, and meditation, which can help promote relaxation and well-being. Other forms of alternative exercise therapy, such as Tai Chi or Qigong, can also be beneficial.
How does alternative exercise therapy help with PTSD?
Alternative exercise therapies such as yoga and Tai Chi can help reduce symptoms of PTSD by increasing mindfulness, promoting relaxation, and improving overall well-being.
Studies have found that exercise causes an increase in endorphins, which act as natural antidepressants and can help reduce anxiety. Additionally, alternative exercise therapies can also help individuals manage their symptoms by teaching them to stay focused on the present moment and remain self-aware.
Alternative treatments for PTSD can be very effective in managing symptoms and improving overall well-being.
These alternative therapies can provide individuals with skills to better cope with the difficulties that come along with PTSD, as well as help reduce feelings of stress and distress.
Discuss alternative treatment options with your healthcare provider in order to find out which alternative therapy is best suited for you.
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