I’ve heard post-traumatic stress disorder described as a wound to the soul. That rang true to me. As humans, we are complex creatures made up of a physical body, a mental psyche, and I believe, a soul. An injury like PTSD can affect all three.
Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy involves gradually facing feelings and situations that remind you of the trauma, and changing your perceptions of the events by talking things through with a licensed therapist.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) combines pieces of cognitivebehavioral therapy with eye movements or other forms of rhythmic, leftright stimulation, such as hand taps or sounds. These techniques work by “unfreezing” the brain which can lock up in times of extreme stress.
There are also things you can do at home. Meditation, deep breathing, massage or yoga can activate the body’s relaxation response and ease symptoms of PTSD.
When you’re struggling with difficult emotions and traumatic memories, it can be easy to fall into a pattern of alcohol or drug use to escape. But substance use worsens many symptoms of PTSD, interferes with treatment and can add to problems in your life.
Eat a healthy diet. Start your day with breakfast, and keep your energy up and your mind clear with balanced meals throughout the day. Omega-3s play a vital role in emotional health so incorporate foods such as fatty fish, flaxseed and walnuts into your diet. Limit processed food, fried food, refined starches and sugars, which can exacerbate mood swings and cause fluctuations in your energy.
Sleep deprivation can trigger anger, irritability and moodiness. Try to sleep between seven to nine hours each night. Develop a relaxing bedtime ritual (listen to calming music, watch a funny show or read something light) and make your bedroom as quiet, dark and soothing as possible.
Until next time, remember to breathe.
GLENDA THOMPSON is a columnist for the Pleasanton Express and is currently writing an A-Z series on Mental Health. Glenda is not a doctor, therapist, mental health expert or medical professional, therefore, you should not use these columns as medical advice. Glenda resides in Charlotte where she is hard at work on the second novel in a series about Texas Rangers with dark secrets.