When we think of a traumatic incident, the first thing that comes to our mind is war, a car crash/natural disaster, or the death of a loved one. However, people can also be traumatized by everyday life occurrences, for instance:
- Bullying and Abuse
- Parent’s divorce or separation
- Mental illness of a loved one.
Often, we overlook the detrimental impacts of the trauma on our brain’s physical health, chemical makeup, and functioning. Thus, people must take action to heal themselves. As most say: not closing a deep wound may cause you to bleed over everyone else. Here are a few effective ways in neuroscience how you can treat your PTSD:
1. EEG biofeedback/Neurofeedback therapy
Neurofeedback therapy, also known as EEG biofeedback therapy, is a special form of biofeedback that helps control brain functions by sending feedback after measuring brain signals. The treatment shows promising positive effects and has helped people who suffer from brain injuries, epilepsy, ADHD, anxiety, seizure, PTSD, migraines, autism, or chronic pain.
So, what happens in EEG biofeedback or neurofeedback therapy? EEG sensors are placed on the scalp and ears of the patient to measure the amount of electrical energy released by different areas of the brain (in the form of brainwaves).
The computer software monitors the variations in the brain waves and provides feedback to the patient’s training. After a few sessions, the brain would start learning how to self-regulate and make physiological changes to itself (and improve its performance). What’s fascinating is that the patient’s brain will continue to make these improvements even after the Neurofeedback/EEG biofeedback therapy ends.
2. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
If you are not comfortable telling someone about your experiences, an effective way to treat your PTSD is by signing up for an EMDR (3 months of weekly sessions). During the EMDR sessions, you have to focus on your traumatic experiences while watching/listening to them do something, e.g. flashing light or moving their hands. You must think about something positive while thinking about your traumatic past/experience.
3. Prolonged Exposure Therapy
Are you scared of coming face to face with the thing/person that reminds you of the traumatic incident? This form of therapy involves 8 to 15 sessions in total. They are 90 minutes long, and during this time, the therapist teaches you a few exercises that will help you confront the triggering things you have been avoiding for a long time.
In the first few treatment sessions, your therapist will teach you breathing exercises that help ease anxiety when you think about your traumatic experiences. Later, you will be asked to create a list of things/people that you have been avoiding to hinder, and you will learn how to face them.
There will also be sessions where you tell your therapists about your experiences. You will have to go home and listen to a recording of yourself. Although it seems daunting, this method has proven very effective and will help treat your traumatized brain.
Where there are a few FDA-approved medications for PTSD, like paroxetine and sertraline, it’s important to consult your doctor before you take them. Everyone is affected differently by their traumas (affecting your neurochemistry in various ways), so your doctor can also give you “off-label” drugs. Nonetheless, if your doctors prescribe a few drugs – they will help your traumatized brain recover.
It is hard for a person who has had a traumatic experience to open up about them. However, it’s better to treat yourself before things get out of hand. Things will take time, but they will surely work out in the end.