Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events. Someone with PTSD often relives the traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks, and may experience feelings of isolation, irritability and guilt. They may also have problems sleeping, and find concentrating difficult. These symptoms are often severe and persistent enough to have a significant impact on the person’s day-to-day life.
Any situation that a person finds traumatic can cause PTSD. These can include: serious road accidents, violent personal assaults, such as sexual assault, mugging or robbery, serious health problems, childbirth experiences. PTSD can develop immediately after someone experiences a disturbing event, or it can occur weeks, months or even years later. PTSD is estimated to affect about 1 in every 3 people who have a traumatic experience, but it’s not clear exactly why some people develop the condition and others do not.
Western medicine treats PTSD with anti-depressants and/or psychological therapies such as trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR).
Increasingly Western physicians are appreciating the importance of the body, mind spirit connection. The ground breaking work of Peter Levine called the Somatic Experiencing method is a body orientated approach to the healing of trauma, resulted from his multidisciplinary study of stress physiology, psychology, ethology, neuroscience and indigenous healing practices. It provides a framework to assess where a person is stuck in the fight, flight or freeze response, unable to process and move forward.
The Five Element acupuncturist sees trauma symptoms (like all symptoms) as a sign of the person has lost an ability to stay centred and cope and is trying to re-find balance. All living beings are governed by the natural laws we observe in nature and the trauma symptoms experienced by the presenting patient will have a cause in one of the five elements that produce our outer and inner reality. Practitioners of this ancient healing tradition have the skills to diagnose the unique cause of the PTSD and effect an acupuncture treatment that has the potential to alleviate not only the trauma symptoms but all suffering.