What Helps Heal Complex PTSD

Complex CPTSD - a hidden trauma

Childhood trauma and Complex PTSD are hot topics right now. They are frequently on the cover of magazines and a major focus of cutting-edge research, and many healing professionals are integrating trauma-informed care into their services. This recognition and experimentation are steps in the right direction, raising awareness about the problem. 

Multiple Approaches Are More Effective For Complex PTSD

Despite thousands of practitioners claiming to treat Complex PTSD, no single method stands out as universally effective. Yet, some people are finding help and recovering through a blend of traditional and alternative methods. Let’s explore the most common treatments: medication and psychotherapy, or a combination of both.

No One-Size-Fits-All Approach for Complex PTSD

Complex CPTSD - a hidden trauma

Medicine is often prescribed to individuals with complex trauma to manage symptoms of depression and anxiety. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can be somewhat helpful in alleviating intense symptoms. However, they may delay recovery by dulling awareness or causing brain fog. Additionally, side effects such as suicidal ideation, sexual difficulties, emotional numbness, and even glaucoma can impede recovery. Medication cannot offer a cure; its benefits and side effects subside once discontinued, and often the symptoms you had before bounce back even worse.

Psychotherapy, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Cognitive Processing Therapy, Exposure Therapy, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy, aim to address trauma-related aspects such as memories and emotional regulation. While psychotherapy has helped many, research shows conflicting findings about its effectiveness in treating childhood trauma. Therapy and medication remain the default treatments for emotional suffering, yet they often fall short for Complex PTSD. 

The assumption that trauma stems from a chemical imbalance or requires discussing past events can be paralyzing or triggering for some, leading to a cycle of changing therapists and medications without real recovery.

Understanding that Complex PTSD is fundamentally neurological is crucial.

It develops due to brain changes caused by early adversity, abuse, and neglect. For instance, a child who has experienced parental neglect might learn to dissociate from intense emotions or enter a permanent state of terror, both of which would affect the brain’s development significantly. These changes make individuals prone to dysregulation as adults, where stress responses trigger emotional explosions or dissociation, complicating relationships, learning, and overall functioning.

Alternative Treatments Can Be Useful

Alternative Treatments like neurofeedback, tapping or EFT, writing, hypnotherapy, meditation, reiki, and physical methods such as yoga, dance, and martial arts show promise in addressing dysregulation. EFT, for example and in part, uses controlled eye movements to help reprocess traumatic memories, while neurofeedback trains the brain to achieve a relaxed state through biofeedback techniques. Tapping involves acupressure points to calm anxiety and rewire the nervous system, and writing provides an outlet for self-expression from a different part of the brain. Hypnosis, meditation, and physical activities help regulate the nervous system and integrate the self and environment. Hypnotherapy helps with all of the above, as well as empowering you to move forward.

Reiki sometimes has a positive affect on the nervous system, moving trauma through as well.  Reiki, or Universal Energy, has a different purpose for each practitioner.  Reiki, with Amy, appears to help people move through their trauma easier, relaxes their bodies, and helps with letting go of “debris” stuck in the body.

While traditional methods like medication and talk therapy have their place, they may not be sufficient for everyone, particularly those with childhood PTSD. Recognizing the neurological basis of trauma and exploring alternative treatments can provide more tailored and effective approaches. As ongoing research continues to refine our understanding and treatment of trauma, there is hope for more personalized and successful interventions.

Further Resources: Cleveland Clinic

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