How to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder during the holidays

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Post-traumatic stress disorder

PTSD is a stress-related reaction that can result from experiencing a traumatic event. While most of us relate PTSD to military combat exposure, PTSD can also be a result of traumas such as physical or sexual assault, physical or sexual abuse, serious accidents and natural disasters. (Shutterstock photos)

Depression, anxiety, alcohol or substance abuse—these are just some of the symptoms and issues men and women with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may suffer from.

A busy holiday schedule, long lists of gifts to buy and the many gatherings with friends and relatives can often make some of these PTSD symptoms much worse.

PTSD is a stress-related reaction that can result from experiencing a traumatic event. While most of us relate PTSD to military combat exposure, PTSD can also be a result of traumas such as physical or sexual assault, physical or sexual abuse, serious accidents and natural disasters.

Nearly 8 percent of the population has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder at some point in their lives, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. That amounts to an average of more than five million adults who have PTSD each year.

People suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder often find it more difficult to cope with the symptoms during stressful times, like the holidays, and may experience more intense symptoms during these occasions.

An alternative approach to post-traumatic stress disorder

Conventional treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder includes psychotherapy, or counseling and prescription medication, which may not always alleviate the symptoms.

Researchers began looking to alternative methods of coping with PTSD apart from traditional counseling or prescription drugs. Many scientists now believe relief may be found in complementary and alternative medicines such as yoga and meditation.

An article recently published in last month’s edition of the journal Behavior Modification detailed research using meditation as an intervention for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Researchers offered mindfulness, mantra and compassion meditation techniques to military veterans suffering from PTSD. While the study was limited, all participants reported a decrease in PTSD symptoms and improved quality of life.

Post-traumatic stress disorder

Across the board, studies are focusing on alternative forms of therapy to assist sufferers of PTSD from experiencing the depression and pain associated with the condition. These alternative methods provide people who suffer from PTSD long-term options with real results that don’t involve prescription medications. (Shutterstock photo)

The findings of this study are not the only research conducted on the matter. Scientists have looked at alternative methods to treat post-traumatic stress disorder for decades. A 1985 study published in the The Journal of Counseling & Development focused on transcendental meditation (TM), a mantra focused form of meditation, alongside counseling therapies to treat PTSD. Researchers found participants who were taught TM experienced significant improvements in the symptoms of PTSD, while the participants who underwent counseling therapy found no improvement at all.

Focused relaxation

Researchers also turned to other forms of alternative medicine to determine if different forms of alternative medicine would help alleviate symptoms without the use of counseling or drugs.

Research conducted by scientists at Harvard University and Brigham Young University studied the effects of yoga classes on veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The research found significant improvement in symptoms after 10 weeks of consistent yoga practice, which also included meditation and focused breathing.

The improved symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder are attributed to the breathing and postures used in yoga. Researchers believe that through focusing attention on the body or a specific task, like the movements required to achieve the perfect downward facing dog, an awareness is created in the brain which allows the participant to meditate on the present. This relieves participants of past negative or traumatic experiences during that time, thus quieting the mind and decreasing anxiety. Done consistently the practice may have lasting long-term effects of relieving PTSD symptoms

Across the board, studies are focusing on alternative forms of therapy to assist sufferers of PTSD from experiencing the depression and pain associated with the condition. These alternative methods provide people who suffer from PTSD long-term options with real results that don’t involve prescription medications with possible harmful or negative side effects. Instead, people may be able to find relief from holiday pressures in the comfort of their own homes.

 

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