Updated: Mar 3
What is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder is the most common mental health issue to affect survivors of terrifying events in which there is a threat to life; either experienced or witnessed. In the past, during the World Wars, PTSD was known as ‘shell shock’ or ‘combat fatigue.’ However, it was after the Vietnam war that research into PTSD began in earnest.
PTSD isn’t only confined to veterans; it is estimated to affect around 8% of the population, with women being more at risk than men. One in three people who experience a life-threatening situation will go on to develop PTSD and a prior history of traumatic experiences increases your risk.
Occupations at greater risk of PTSD (in addition to the military) include emergency service personnel and hospital doctors and nurses. It’s important to remember that what is highly traumatic for one person may be less so for another and predisposition is dependent on a range of factors.
Examples of causative traumatic situations can include:
· Military combat
· Physical/ sexual assault or abuse
· Being the victim of a crime
· Major tragedies such as natural disasters or terrorist attacks
· Car accidents
· Experiencing miscarriages
· Personal medical emergencies such as heart attacks
· The violent death of a loved one
What are the Symptoms?
Whilst anyone would be expected to experience shock and fear immediately after a trauma, the specific symptoms of PTSD will continue well beyond the event. Tell-tale signs of PTSD are flashbacks, anxiety and difficulty sleeping. PTSD can often be a delayed reaction; appearing months or even years after the event - and may increase in severity over time.
The symptoms that help diagnose PTSD can be grouped under 4 main themes:
Stuck in the past
· Reliving the trauma through flashbacks, where it feels like the event is happening now
· Recurring nightmares of the event
· More fearful thoughts, irritability, rage
· Feeling guilt and even shame (this can be due to blame from perpetrators or confusion over their culpability)
· Not wanting to talk to anyone about the trauma
· Avoiding places/ situations/ people that act as reminders of the trauma
· Blanking out certain details from the event – so that they can’t be recalled
· Numbness, disassociation, difficulty concentrating
· Having less interest in life and more difficulty maintaining healthy relationships with others
· Hypersensitivity to possible dangers – for example jumping at loud noises, believing fireworks are gun shots etc
PSTD Reactions to COVID-19
A high prevalence of PTSD has been recorded following many recent pandemics, such as SARS, MERS and Ebola; cases being most prevalent amongst survivors, bereaved family members and frontline medical staff. The current epidemic is no exception, research showing - for example - that 35% of ventilated COVID patients have symptoms of PTSD. However, the increased pressures of worldwide lockdown with its associated social isolation (and in particular increased domestic abuse) have -unfortunately- added to the trauma load.
Can Homeopathy Help?
There have been a number of research studies that have concluded that homeopathy can benefit patients suffering from PTSD. As a holistic therapy, homeopathy is well placed to help with the symptoms of PTSD on all levels on which it expresses itself – mental, emotional and physical. The Huffington Post shared a lovely article on how homeopathic treatment helped to turn around the life of a Vietnam war veteran, who’s world had been all but destroyed by 14 years of extreme PTSD. You can read his story here.
My own experiences of treating patients with PTSD have led me to view it as a trauma event that was too overwhelming to be processed in the natural course of time. So, the energetic shock continues to reverberate in the ‘primitive' brain - the area that deals with our reaction to life threatening events – leaving the affected individual suffering from a constant background level of heightened anxiety and other associated PTSD symptoms.
Like many, I am particularly concerned right now by the additional trauma load the pandemic is placing on people. As well as those individuals who have been directly affected by COVID, the increased stressors of lockdown and social isolation are creating additional PTSD situations for many right now. I also believe that many people are experiencing an increased background level of trauma induced by this life-threatening pandemic situation. This could reduce their threshold for coping with further trauma and therefore cause people to more easily fall into a PTSD state during future traumatic exposure . I expect that we are set to see a significant rise in cases over the coming months and years and feel that homeopathy has much to offer those affected.
Whilst acute situations of shock can often be treated homeopathically by the lay person, PTSD is a chronic state that requires a professionally trained homeopath to deal with. The precise remedy needed by each individual will depend on the fullness of their symptoms – mental, emotional, physical and spiritual – because, as always, we do not treat conditions in homeopathy, but individuals.
If you would like to talk to me about homeopathy and PTSD, I’d be happy to answer your questions. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or book yourself a free introductory call if you would like to discuss receiving treatment.
Some Useful Links
You can take a simple PTSD test here
The NHS provide an online PTSD Self-help guide
Huffington Post article of a veteran experiencing PTSD who received homeopathic help