PTSD and Neuro feedback

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is a type of psychiatric disorder that develops after witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event. It can be as vivid as war and major disasters or as subtle as a being abandoned or alone in a time of need.  It can happen to anyone, at any age and it affects 3.5% of adults in the United States.

Symptoms of PTSD

Symptoms of PTSD may begin within a month after the traumatic event; however, in some cases the symptoms may take years to appear. The symptoms may cause problems in your work or social situations and also in relationships. They may also reduce your capability to do the routine daily tasks.

Symptoms fall into the following four categories:

  1. Intrusive thoughts or memories

Symptoms under this category include the following:

  • Recurrent, distressing, unwanted memories and thoughts of the terrifying or traumatic event.
  • Flashbacks of the traumatic event or reliving the event in a way that it is happening again.
  • Nightmares or upsetting dreams regarding the event.
  • Severe physical reactions or emotional distress to something, which reminds you of that event.
  1. Avoidance

Symptoms under this category include the following:

  • Avoiding places, people, objects, situations or activities that bring back distressing memories.
  • You may try and avoid thinking or remembering about the event.
  • You may resist discussing and talking regarding what happened and what your feelings are about it.
  1. Negative feelings and thoughts

Symptoms under this category include:

  • You develop negative thoughts regarding yourself, other individuals and the world in general.
  • Hopelessness about your future.
  • Problems with memory such as forgetting important aspects about the past traumatic event.
  • Difficulty in maintaining relationships, especially close ones.
  • Feeling of detachment from your friends and family.
  • You have less interest in those activities that you enjoyed previously.
  • You have difficulty in experiencing or feeling positive emotions.
  • Feeling of emotional numbness.
  • You have ongoing feelings of horror, fear, guilt, shame or anger.
  1. Reactive and Arousal symptoms

Symptoms under this category include:

  • You get easily frightened or startled.
  • You always stay on guard for any imminent danger.
  • You may show behavior that is self-destructive or reckless such as you may drive too fast or drink too much alcohol.
  • You may have trouble in sleeping.
  • You may have trouble in concentrating.
  • You may be irritable or have aggressive behavior or anger outbursts.

In children of six years of age and below, the following signs and symptoms of PTSD may also occur:

  • Your child may re-enact the various aspects of past traumatic or terrifying event via play.
  • Your child may have frightening dreams or nightmares of the event.

 

Physical Symptoms of PTSD

PTSD frequently co-exists with other various mental and physical health diseases ranging from heart disease to depression and among the most common physical manifestations of post traumatic stress disorder is physical or body pain.

Connection between Physical pain and PTSD

A straightforward connection between physical pain and PTSD is that certain traumas are often physical and cause immediate bodily injury and pain.  Some traumas however do not cause immediate physical symptoms. They are more subtle. The emotional signs and symptoms of PTSD may also cause physical pain. Disturbances of sleep, anxiety and hyper-arousal, they all lead to physical stress and tension ultimately damaging your health. Back pain, migraines, body aches and stomach pains can stem easily from symptoms of PTSD.

To further this idea, many other issues, which co-exist with PTSD such as anxiety, depression, obesity and substance abuse, may also trigger the symptoms of physical pain.

PTSD and Neurofeedback

Many people who suffer from PTSD require professional therapy to recover from their symptoms that may be quite disabling and intense. Neurofeedback (NF) also referred to as neurotherapy or EEG biofeedback is an innovative therapy to treat PTSD. This therapy uses the capacity of the brain to change or reshape its networks. It helps by training your brain to function in a better way and research shows that it helps to relieve anxiety, sharpen attention, improve behavior and learning and enhance mood without medication.

The process of neurofeedback is simple, non-invasive and painless.  By simply sitting and watching a movie, you are able to affect your brain waves through the feedback seen and heard in the dimming of the screen and sound. This training creates new, healthy brainwave patterns and allows the brain to function more efficiently and effectively.

According to a study published in the journal PLOS one, NF has been found to produce significant improvement in the symptoms of patients suffering from chronic PTSD. In another study published in the Journal Medical Psychotherapy, the effects of NF on the symptoms of combat related PTSD of Vietnam veterans were studied. The study demonstrated that NF therapy produced relief in symptoms of PTSD and provided long term prevention of relapse of PTSD! Very few interventions exist currently without psychiatric medications which provide such dramatic relief.

Conclusion

PTSD is a kind of psychiatric disorder that occurs after a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event. It may manifest itself as both emotional and physical symptoms. One of the most attractive aspects of neurofeedback therapy is that it does not require counseling or the painful reliving of memories, which drive symptoms. Neurofeedback is an innovative therapy that is gaining much attention in recent times and is quite successful in relieving symptoms of PTSD.

If you or a family member suffers from PTSD please contact Red Tail Wellness Centers and schedule your brain map/QEEG so you can let your health soar again!

Ian Hollaman, DC, MSc, IFMCP

References

  1. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Mayoclinic. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355967 Accessed July 30th
  2. What Is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder? Psychiatryorg. Available at: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/ptsd/what-is-ptsd Accessed July 30th
  3. How PTSD can Cause Physical Pain Symptoms. Theoakstreatment. Available at: https://theoakstreatment.com/ptsd/how-ptsd-can-cause-physical-pain-symptoms/ Accessed July 30th
  4. What is neurofeedback? Neurodevelopmentcenter. Available at: https://neurodevelopmentcenter.com/neurofeedback-2/ Accessed July 30th
  5. Bessel A. van der Kolk, Hilary Hodgdon, Mark Gapen, Regina Musicaro, Michael K. Suvak, Ed Hamlin, Joseph Spinazzola. A Randomized Controlled Study of Neurofeedback for Chronic PTSD. PLOS One. December 2016;
  6. Eugene G. Peniston, Paul J. Kulkosky. Alpha-Theta Brainwave Neuro-Feedback for Vietnam Veterans with Combat-Related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Medical Psychotherapy. 1991; 4: 47-60.