The fear and stress that Europeans have faced over the past two years seem to have changed our lives forever.
How does this affect your well-being and what are the consequences for the psyche and body of traumatic situations? Is it possible to overcome the horror of war, even if for many it takes place in news feeds and photographs? How to get out of the state, which in medicine is called post-traumatic syndrome? These and other questions are answered by Dr. Szkopincev Dmitrij, Head physician of the CALENDULA Ayurvedic and medical clinic (Hungary).
Why is it so scary?
Fear is a natural reaction of the psyche to life-threatening events and circumstances. As a rule, it is emotionally colored. The function of fear is to protect from danger. An emergency or previously unusual situation has arisen, a person mobilizes forces and takes some action: for example, runs away from danger. At this time, the levels of adrenaline and norepinephrine, hormones responsible for the body’s adaptation to stress, increase in the body. For example, adrenaline improves skeletal muscle function. But with prolonged exposure, helps to increase the myocardium and muscle frame. Norepinephrine constricts blood vessels and increases blood pressure.
When we are scared, cortisol, the stress hormone, is released. In chronic stress, its excess makes the immune system vulnerable to viral, oncological, chronic, and autoimmune diseases.
Fear has two poles: with a plus sign and a minus sign. In the first case, it acts as a motivation to overcome and act. Its positive properties include the fact that small doses of cortisol make the immune system fight irritants, improve memory, and reduce sensitivity to pain. In the second case, with a protracted nature, it contributes to the development of phobias, anxiety, passivity, weakens the body’s functions to resist diseases, circumstances and situations. A condition in which a person, after a traumatic situation for him, feels fear even in safety, in modern medicine is called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
How to recognize PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder can develop in a person at any age as a result of a traumatic incident: in the military and combatants, witnesses to the death of another person, in those who have been the victim of an accident or sexual violence. Symptoms of the disease appear within three months or immediately after an extreme situation. It is important to note that women are more likely to develop PTSD than men. The nature of the course of the disease is individual. For some people, this condition can become chronic.
Symptoms indicating PTSD:
- recurring painful memories (memory invasion)
- at least two cases of manifestation of excessive excitability and reactivity
- at least two cases of cognitive impairment and mood swings
- heavy dreams and nightmares, insomnia
- avoidance of places, objects, people that trigger difficult memories
- feeling “on the edge”
- quick entry into a state of anxiety
- outbursts of anger
- memory problems
- loss of interest in activities and life
All of these symptoms are natural responses to traumatic events. Although they can be severe, most people go away after a month. In this case, this condition is called acute stress disorder (ASD). If the symptoms continue for more than a month, then you can talk about PTSD. Long-term work with patients whose life there were traumatic situations shows that the course of the post-traumatic syndrome in each person occurs differently. Mentally stable people with strong physical and emotional potential, strong families, friends, stable jobs, and analytical and positive thinking are less likely to develop PTSD.
How to treat PTSD?
Most medical sources indicate that the main types of treatment for post-traumatic syndrome are psychotherapy, drug treatment, and combination therapy, including both psychotherapy and medication (antidepressants). In the case of a severe course of the disease, these are really necessary measures. Based on our clinical experience, we can talk about the following effective approaches in the treatment of patients with PTSD:
- Comfortable environment – isolation is needed in a place where it is calm, there are no sound and light stimuli; where the diet, sleep, and wakefulness are provided; where the atmosphere is friendly and the patient speaks the same language;
- Rehabilitation, including work with the body and mental state. First of all, it is important to relax the body. Any stress causes tension in the muscular system and ligamentous apparatus. Deep muscle hypertonicity puts the body into a state of increased energy expenditure and with it transmitters and hormones such as acetylcholine, serotonin, dopamine, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. This depletes the body, disruption of hormone production provokes premature aging. And this is even though there are no external threats and prerequisites for this. The human body is so unique: if there is a war on the external environment, it is the same inside, and this state extends to all physiological processes, including digestion. To relieve deep muscle spasms, massages, reflexology, and manual therapy are effective. In this case, Ayurveda has great potential, providing an individual solution for each person: various types of massages with vegetable oils – relaxing, warming, nourishing, and strengthening the body. In ancient Indian medicine, there is a separate medical direction Rasayana, the therapies, which aim at physical and psycho-emotional recovery, normalization of hormonal levels, prevention of early aging, etc.
- Phytotherapy as an alternative to medication therapy. In medical practice, probably the simplest thing is to prescribe an anxiolytic or antidepressant to the patient. But we know that this is not a solution to the problem, and over time we will have to select stronger formulas. Since the human body is a self-regulating biosystem, maximum efforts should be made to increase its viability. In this case, herbal preparations are helpers. Natural compounds are similar in structure to the components of the human body. The body selects and uses those of them that are necessary for the normalization of the work of cells, organs, systems. At the same time, there is no addiction, an aggressive impact on it. In Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine, there are centuries-old Phyto formulas that restore neurons – cells responsible for the functions of the nervous system, adaptogens that increase the body’s resistance to adverse external influences, etc.
In our clinic, we have created all the necessary conditions for the treatment of post-traumatic syndrome and its accompanying diseases: regimen, good living conditions, therapies that allow the body to recover and strengthen.
How to help yourself after a traumatic situation?
If you observe any of the above symptoms, it is better to contact a specialist so that he can assess the severity of the disease and prescribe the correct treatment.
The minimum of what you can do yourself in case of post-traumatic disorder:
- To do exercises that reduce stress. In this case, relaxing yoga asanas, meditation and breathing practices, tai chi classes are effective;
- Reduce physical and workloads. Make a step-by-step plan in solving any task so that you can prioritize and do what you can;
- Share your experiences with relatives and friends, their support, in this case, is invaluable;
- Don’t wait for a quick solution to the problem. In order not to get hung up on the state, find an activity that you like. It is important not to be alone with the problem;
- Find a place that evokes a sense of security, surround yourself with comfortable people;
- Remember: time heals.
We will continue the topic of post-traumatic stress syndrome. The doctors of our clinic will talk in more detail about the diseases caused by this condition and give personalized recommendations. Don’t be alone with what’s bothering you!