Natural disasters bring emotional damage to millions of people every year. Earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, fires, tornadoes, and floods are only some of the calamities that destroy our homes and lives. Even though we can prepare for natural disasters, there is nothing we can do to stop the destruction it can bring completely.
Statistics say that these calamities lead to millions of lives lost and economic devastation. However, what is not accounted for is the psychological effect of these calamities to the people who have experienced them. Some people who are left in the turmoil of these events have lost their homes, families, friends, and even their entire way of life.
These natural disasters often impact an individual’s mental health. One of the most common psychological effects brought about by calamities is post-traumatic stress disorder.
What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Anyone who has been exposed to a terrifying or life-threatening event, such as natural disasters, can develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD can manifest immediately once the event has happened but in some cases, it can develop much later. For months or even years, individuals with PTSD will still be haunted by these traumatic events, to the point that their daily routines become significantly impeded. “People with PTSD have intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience that last long after the traumatic event has ended,” explains Ranna Parekh, M.D., M.P.H. “They may relive the event through flashbacks or nightmares; they may feel sadness, fear or anger; and they may feel detached or estranged from other people.”
According to the Anxiety and Depressions Association of America, listed below are some of the common symptoms of PTSD:
- Physical symptoms of anxiety such as the inability to think clearly, sweating, and a racing heartbeat
- Experiencing flashbacks regarding the traumatic memories
- Making changes in an individual’s routine to avoid encountering triggers
- Avoiding people interaction (avoiding sharing their thoughts and feelings)
- Insomnia or difficulty to get enough rest due to strange dreams or constant nightmares
- Having angry outbursts on a regular basis
- Being aggressive or violent to anyone
- Lack of concentration which leads to the difficulty of completing tasks
- Inability to retain or remember information
Every person experiences different symptoms. The recovery phase for PTSD usually lasts for six months, but others face this disorder for years.
Natural Therapies For PTSD
Most treatments for PTSD have a conventional approach. These treatments include the use of prescription medications and drugs, which are believed to help PTSD patients deal with their extreme emotions and feelings such as social isolation, sadness, anger, anxiety, and lack of motivation. However, some people do not like this kind of approach. They opt to engage with natural treatments since they do not want to experience side effects from using medications.
Listed below are some of the natural therapies for individuals with PTSD:
- Guided Imagery
This strategy helps PTSD patients to focus on mental images to bring out the feeling of relaxation. This practice is based on the concept of the mind-body connection that improves both physical and emotional health. Ilene A. Serlin Ph.D. wrote, “Trauma is the “speechless terror” characterized, by frozen affect, memory and speech. Methods that re-awaken numb bodies in a compassionate environment are nonverbal and symbolic and include meditation, imagery, an, music and movement therapies, EMDR, psychodrama and existential therapy.”
- Yoga And Meditation
These exercises have been proven to “change the brain” by increasing the happy neurotransmitters. This chemical helps improve the coping mechanisms for negative emotions, reduces the impacts of stress, and more. Some of the techniques on which patients can directly tap into the relaxation response of their body include: chanting mantras with a group, engaging with different styles of meditation, controlled breathing, and stretching. “It’s believed that yoga combats psychological distress by bringing a person’s flight-or-flight response back into balance,” says Bret A. Moore Psy.D., ABPP. “That response is the delicate system in the body that prepares you to either fight or run when faced with a threat, which can become disrupted in those with PTSD.”
- Cognitive Restructuring
This approach encourages patients to understand their traumas better by discussing them. Cognitive restructuring helps them make sense of these negative happenings and lets them deal with the shame, guilt, and regret that are usually felt after the traumatic event.
Acupuncture involves inserting thin needles on an individual’s skin to balance their energy. This practice helps boost a person’s well-being and cure some conditions.
Many people prefer these natural therapies as compared to the intake of medications and drugs to help them recover from PTSD. However, it is better if each finds the perfect recovery approach since trauma affects everyone differently. Always remember that mental health is an essential and vital part of a person’s overall health. Hence, if you are having a hard time, do not hesitate to ask for help.