Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (or syndrome) describes an extensive set of symptoms that occurs in response to a severe trauma. Although the syndrome has long been associated with returning soldiers, it also is very common in rape victims, victims of child abuse, persons who have survived an earthquake or bombing, individuals who have been in some type of accident, victims of a mugging or severe physical assault, and others who have suffered through some other type of physical and psychological hardship. Those who have been an eyewitness to one of these traumatic events also can develop symptoms.
Symptoms typically appear anywhere from directly after the event to six months afterward. In some cases, however, symptoms may appear one, two, or even many years after the event. How long one suffers from the syndrome varies greatly, depending on a person’s psychological constitution, how horrifying the event was, what type of support the victim has, and whether the victim was physically injured. Some people suffer from PTSD for the remainder of their lives. The disorder can increase one’s risk of clinical depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and suicide.
Signs and Symptoms
In response to a specific tragedy or trauma, the appearance of one or more of the following symptoms for a minimum of three weeks:
- Feeling of detachment or estrangement from others
- Inability to have loving or friendly feelings toward others or yourself
- Persistent re-experiencing of the traumatic event in intrusive daydreams and nightmares
- Avoidance of feelings, activities, and/or locations associated with the trauma
- Negative reactions to people, sounds, smells, or other situations that remind you of the event
- Distress at the anniversary of the trauma
- Diminished interest in day-to-day activities
- Sense of shortened future or impending doom
- Explosive anger
- A general loss of hope
- Generalized anxiety
- Difficulty concentrating
- In children, regression to infant-like behaviors, such as baby talk, thumb sucking, and loss of toilet-training habits
Conventional Medical Treatment
Treatment for post traumatic stress syndrome entails both medications and psychotherapy or counseling. Tranquilizers, anti-anxiety drugs, or antidepressants may be prescribed, depending on a person’s symptoms. A psychiatrist or clinical psychologist who is specifically trained to treat the condition can help a person explore and sort out the conflicting and complex feelings of guilt, anxiety, detachment, depression, and fear. Not only does this process allow a patient to get much-needed validation of his or her feelings, it also eases feelings of isolation from others who have not shared the traumatic experience. A mental health professional can also give individuals guidance in dealing with the debilitating and frightening feelings of suicide, rage, and grief.
Complementary and Alternative Treatments
Nutrition and Supplementation
Nutrition is particularly important during periods of stress and recovery from trauma. Your diet should be high in fiber, full of wholesome foods. Stress reactions thicken the blood, so eat foods that thin the blood, including cantaloupe, garlic, and ginger.
Vitamin C is an important antioxidant that helps protect the body against stress. Foods high in vitamin C include strawberries, red pepper, and collard greens. Citrus fruits and juices are also good sources.
The following recommended daily supplements provide some relief of PTSD symptoms:
- vitamin B complex injections (1 cc weekly or as prescribed by a health care provider)-necessary for proper functioning of the nervous
- system, supplemented with additional oral vitamin B5 (500 mg)-the most important of the B vitamins because it dissipates quickly during stress reactions
- zinc (50 mg; do not exceed a total of 100 mg from all supplements)-enhances immune function
- vitamin C with bioflavonoids (3000 to 10,000 mg)-depleted during stress reactions; essential to adrenal gland function
- potassium (99 mg)-excreted during stress reaction
- magnesium (1000 mg)-depleted during stress reaction; a deficiency contributes to anxiety, fear, and hallucinations
- calcium (2000 mg)-depleted during stress reactions
- ruelatonin (start with 1.5 mg, taken 2 hours or less before bedtime. Increase dosage up to 5 rug daily if this is not effective)-promotes sleep
- adrenal live cell support therapy (as directed)
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Acupuncture – Using acupuncture to treat the patient’s stress, while he or she is receiving counseling, increases the success rate of the counseling and speeds recovery.
Yoga and Meditation
Use a combination of breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga to clear your mind, combat stress, and relax. Choose three or four poses daily, including at least one relaxation pose, such as the Child or Corpse. Alternate nostril breathing will help you relax and compose your thoughts.