PTSD is a disorder that develops in some people after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event or lived through a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it.
PTSD was first recognized in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1980.
About 8 million adults in the United States have PTSD. Women are more likely to experience PTSD than men. About 10 % of American women develop the disorder at some point in their lives, compared with about 4 % of men. PTSD is common among war veterans who have experienced or witnessed combat situations and about 30 % of Vietnam veterans have had PTSD at some point in their lives. About 20 % of Gulf War veterans experience PTSD each year.
Causes of PTSD
Genetics: Certain genes may help create fear memories. Researchers are currently studying how genetic factors may influence a person’s response to traumatic events.
Brain: The way your brain regulates chemicals and hormones in the body may affect how you respond to stress. Individual differences in certain brain areas may also play a role.
Life experiences: You may be more likely to develop PTSD if you’ve experienced severe or frequent trauma starting in early childhood.
Mental health: Having other mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression, may put you at higher risk for PTSD.
Personality: Being pessimistic or having poor coping skills may raise your risk of developing this condition.
To be diagnosed with PTSD, an adult must have all of the following for at least 1 month:
– At least one avoidance symptom
– At least one re-experiencing symptom
– At least two cognition and mood symptoms
– At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms
PTSD in Children
Studies show that up to 43 % of children and teens have experienced at least one significant trauma in their lives. Signs of PTSD in children may look different from those in adults. Children may:
– Act out the trauma during playtime
– Experience bed-wetting (even if they’re toilet-trained)
– Forget how to talk
– Become unusually clingy
There are a number of herbs to effectively support the adrenals and calm nerves. Some of these include:
- Kava Root is a powerful relaxant. It is an herbal muscle relaxant. It can be taken in tea, tincture or capsule form.
- Chamomile calms and soothes frazzled nerves. Taken as a tea 1-3 times a day.
- Valerian is sedating and helps one to sleep and alleviates headaches. It is not the best tasting herb so capsule form may be preferred.
- Oatstraw – strengthens, nourishes and calms the nervous system. It also fights depression and anxiety.
- Motherwort – has a sedating/tranquilizing effect on the central nervous system. It strengthens and relaxes heart muscles and is used as a treatment for depression and anxiety and heart palpitations.
- Stinging Nettle – gives support and strengthens tired adrenal glands. It inhibits the production of adrenaline, a hormone released that gives us that “fight or flight” response.
- St John’s Wort – very helpful for grief and depression, but should not be taken if taking anti-depressants.
- Aromatherapy is a natural, less invasive treatment for chronic afflictions and compared to most pharmaceuticals, aromatherapy is typically less expensive and more accessible.
- Essential oils are powerful and concentrated and should not be applied directly to the skin in undiluted form. Recommended essential oils for PTSD include: Chamomile, Geranium, Grapefruit or lemon, Lavender.