Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a form of anxiety disorder, which typically develops following being involved in or seeing traumatic events. Once believed to only affect those involved in combat, PTSD can affect anybody. I help people in London. My PTSD treatment uses hypnotherapy and other approaches such as mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
How does PTSD treatment with hypnotherapy work?
Of course, experiencing fear when faced with a scary or potentially dangerous situation is entirely normal. In reality, this fear is essential to our survival. It sets off responses within the body which aim to save our life if endangered. This fight or flight response is normal and functions to protect us. Many people will experience a number of reactions following experiencing trauma, however most will typically recover a short time after the event. For some, however, these kinds of PTSD symptoms do not alleviate. They could feel frightened and anxious, and have flashbacks long after the event, and also during regular day to day situations. It’s when these PTSD symptoms do not fade away and start to restrict everyday life that PTSD might be diagnosed.
How many people are affected by PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is thought to have an impact on one in every three individuals who have a traumatic experience. As I frequently see in my London hypnotherapy practice, It is actually not yet clear why some individuals develop the condition and others do not. PTSD can develop right after the experience, or it can appear weeks, many months, or even years later. People who ask for hypnotherapy, sometimes do so even decades after the event
PTSD treatment with hypnotherapy reduces the symptoms of PTSD
In most cases, signs and symptoms of PTSD will develop over the first month after the event. Although, in some cases, there can be a delay of months or years before symptoms appear. Symptoms will also vary for individuals. Some individuals will experience extended periods of minor, less noticeable symptoms. They then may have periods where symptoms are more serious. Others will have continuous significant signs and symptoms, impacting their daily living. Whilst specific symptoms of PTSD will vary between individuals, there are common signs and symptoms associated with PTSD which generally fall under these particular categorisations.
This is most common symptom of PTSD. Re-experiencing is when the person relives the actual triggering event. Re-experiencing typically takes place in the form of vivid flashbacks, nightmares, repetitive and distressing images or feelings, and physical sensations, for example pain, sweating and feeling sick. Some people will constantly experience distressing thoughts about the event, asking themselves questions over and over again. “Why would this have happened to me? Couldn’t I have stopped it?” This repeated questioning might prevent them from coming to terms and coping with the event, generally leading to feelings of guilt or shame. Hypnotherapy is a very direct way to address these thoughts and shift ways of thinking.
Avoidance and emotional numbing
Another key symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is actively attempting to avoid any reminders of the trauma. This might mean steering clear of certain people or places that are reminders associated with the event, or talking to anybody regarding the experience. It’s prevalent for those who have PTSD to ignore memories, ‘pushing them from their mind’ by distracting themselves through other activities, like work.
Others may try to cope with how they’re feeling by attempting to switch off completely. Not experiencing anything sometimes seems like the easier alternative. This is known as emotional numbing. Emotional numbing can result in the person becoming isolated and withdrawn. They lose enjoyment in the activities they had previously really enjoyed.
PTSD can lead to increased feelings of anxiety and difficulty relaxing. This symptom is really more of a mind-set change. People might be constantly conscious of threat and potential danger, and therefore become easily startled. This is known as hyper arousal (or feeling ‘on edge’). Hyperarousal can result in increased becoming easily irritated, sleeping problems, anger and problems concentrating.
PTSD can have a harmful effect on a person’s life. Along with the above symptoms, individuals with PTSD are likely to have various other symptoms, associated with the disorder, such as:
- Some other psychological health problems such as anxiety, depression or phobias.
- Actual physical symptoms, including headaches, upper chest pains, tummy aches and dizziness.
- Self-harming or destructive behaviour, including substance or alcohol misuse.
Without the right expertise and support, managing PTSD symptoms may be an extremely lonely time. The condition can, in some cases, lead to relationship breakdowns and work-related difficulties.
If you’re worried, or worried about a loved one, it is important you seek support. There exists plenty of support available for those affected by PTSD and whilst we understand it’s not easy to ask for help, you don’t have to cope through this alone.
PTSD treatment with hypnotherapy helps with the causes
Anyone can be impacted by PTSD. The anxiety disorder can develop after a frightening, life-threatening or distressing event, or following a lengthy traumatic experience. Kinds of events considered to lead to post-traumatic stress disorder include things like:
- serious road accidents
- aggressive assault
- long term abuse
- exposure to military combat
- being a victim of terrorism
- natural disasters
- witnessing violent deaths or the unexpected injury or death of a loved one
PTSD treatment with hypnotherapy helps those at risk?
While it’s uncertain why some people may develop PTSD and others will not, there are certain factors which are considered to affect your chances of developing PTSD. According to the NHS, if you’ve experienced depression or anxiety, you might be more susceptible to developing PTSD following a distressing event. Indeed hypnotherapy can help anxiety, depression and stress also.
Other risk factors can include having little or very little social support after the incident, or having experienced childhood trauma or if a person feels increased stress following the event (the death of a loved one, loss of a job and so on.)
Children can also become affected by PTSD. They will typically experience very similar symptoms to adults. Even so, there are some symptoms more particular to kids, such as bedwetting, separation anxiety or increased anxiety when far from familiar grown ups or they might re-enact the event through play.
PTSD treatment with hypnotherapy and complex PTSD
Complex PTSD is a relatively new term, now accepted as being a condition in which the individual will experience several of the signs and symptoms of PTSD, along with some extra symptoms. You might be diagnosed with complex PTSD if you repeatedly experience distressing events, for example severe neglect, abuse or physical violence.
Seeking PTSD treatment with hypnotherapy or other interventions
After experiencing a particularly stressful event, it’s normal to feel confused and upset. For most people, these types of disturbing thoughts will ease after a couple of weeks. Also , if you or your child continue to be experiencing difficulties four weeks or so after the event, the we suggest you consider going to your doctor. Your GP will evaluate your symptoms and emotions and if necessary, refer you to a mental health professional.
The main treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder are medication and/or psychotherapy (talking therapies). As mentioned, I use hypnotherapy for PTSD, which can be very effective alongside these other therapy treatments. Of course, everyone is different, and how PTSD affects individuals will differ. So the treatment that works for one person, may not be best for you.
Some PTSD treatment approaches include:
Watchful waiting is an approach which may be offered if you’ve been experiencing symptoms for less than four weeks, or symptoms are relatively mild. It involves self-monitoring, where you keep track of how you feel and your symptoms, to see if things improve. This approach is advised before you’re offered counselling, hypnotherapy or any treatment method. It should consist of a follow-up appointment within four weeks of your initial consultation.
Traumatic events and experiences can be very difficult to deal with, especially by yourself. Speaking about how you truly feel, dealing with your feelings and seeking professional help may be an extremely effective way of dealing with PTSD. It is also possible for PTSD to be treated many years following the triggering event, which means it’s never too late to look for support.
Talking treatments for PTSD
There are currently two kinds of talking therapy suggested by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
Trauma-focused CBT is a form of cognitive behavioural therapy, specifically adapted for PTSD. CBT is a talking therapy which focuses on what we believe and think and how these thoughts affect our actions. It aims to teach you the skills required to cope with challenging situations. It is advised that a person has eight to 12 hourly sessions, with at least one session a week.
EMDR (eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing) is a treatment method focused on making rapid eye movements while recalling your experience. The actual idea behind this is that the effect of the rapid eye movements will be very similar to the way our mind processes memories and experiences whenever sleeping. EMDR was especially created as a treatment to help individuals living with challenging traumatic memories, including those with PTSD.
If you’re not happy having treatment or you do not think it’s working, it is important you tell your doctor or therapist. They should provide you with a second course of treatment, or a follow-up appointment to discuss what you expected, what you want to gain from therapy as well as why you feel it hasn’t worked. Sometimes the initial therapist you see won’t be the one for you and that’s OK. It takes time, therefore if you’re not happy with the therapy, speak up.
Medication for PTSD isn’t routinely recommended as treatment. You may be offered medication if you have depression, are experiencing sleeping difficulties brought on by PTSD or you are unable or unwilling to consider psychotherapy or PTSD hypnotherapy. If you are offered medication, it will normally be an antidepressant. While PTSD isn’t the same as depression, it has been found to help.
How can PDST treatment with hypnotherapy help?
Many people have found hypnotherapy a beneficial resource to cope better with PTSD signs and symptoms. I find that hypnotherapy is helpful since you can revisit and change how you feel about the causing event. Hypnotherapy also helps by increasing confidence and inner resources so that you feel more about to face challenging situations. Hypnotherapy helps make shifts in the calm and safety of the consulting room, all at the pace you are happy to work at. Indeed hypnotherapy can work well with other approaches. Therefore PTSD hypnotherapy, when coupled with EMDR in particular, is definitely considered to be an effective way to process difficult memories associated with trauma.
Trauma can cause a particular person to disconnect from their own internal sense of safety. So, the sooner the inner thoughts are managed, the sooner the individual will recover. Hypnotherapy may help you cope with the trauma and discover how to regain a feeling of control and normality in your life.
The principle behind hypnotherapy is that it is designed to access your subconscious and transform the negative thoughts that are holding you back. By making use of the power of suggestion, hypnotherapy functions to promote positive change. The suggestions utilized will depend on your symptoms and whatever you wish to gain from your sessions. The hypnotherapist will tailor techniques to you, helping you to deal with symptoms and recognise possible triggers, as well as changing the way you respond towards all of them.
How can I find out more about PTSD treatment with hypnotherapy?
If you’re ready, the first step on your journey will be to get in touch for an initial phone consultation, under no obligation. I am happy to explain more about how sessions work and see if my approach would be a good fit for you.