Treating PTSD with pharmacological solutions such as benzodiazepines (anxiety medication like Xanax, for example) not only ends up being ineffective over the long-term, it also can be dangerous.
That’s because many people who suffer from PTSD, especially chronic PTSD, develop alcoholism in an effort to squash anxiety systems. In reality, alcohol and PTSD mix like fire and gasoline.
Unfortunately, Xanax, Ativan and other “benzos” as they are known in behavioral health circles, remain overprescribed for PTSD, according to the VA.
“Practical problems have existed with the use of benzodiazepines for over 50 years now but they continue to be widely prescribed in PTSD patients,” the National Center for PTSD at the VA reported in PTSD Research Quarterly.
“Mounting evidence suggests that the long-term harms imposed by benzodiazepine use outweigh any short-term symptomatic benefits in patients with PTSD. Similar to the culture change in psychotherapy that saw movement from supportive group treatment to evidence-based cognitive behavioral psychotherapies, alternative treatments including the increased use of safer medications and evidence-based nonpharmacologic therapies should be actively promoted and made more widely available.”
Simple, all-natural solutions for managing PTSD, even chronic PTSD, do exist. Here are six ways to calm your angry inner beast if trauma has left you on lifelong high alert.
Medical cannabis. There is no denying the greening of the nation as it pertains to marijuana. Veterans have been using weed medically since the days of Vietnam, and helped thrust marijuana into the American consciousness. Today, Americans views marijuana much differently from the days of Vietnam. Indeed, they see it for the peace plant it is.
Veterans marched on Washington this past Memorial Day demanding greater and more affordable access to the plant, according to Fox News.
Baking another way…baking cakes. Believe it or not, baking can help alleviate PTSD symptoms. One theory is that following directions helps slow down brain processes and create a diversion from unpleasant thoughts associated with PTSD. Says veteran Josh Tredinnick in a VA press release about baking program for veterans at Dog Tag Bakery, “Baking has been very therapeutic as far as just getting me involved in a healthy activity. What I’ve enjoyed most about it that you can take this set of ingredients, you can follow these steps, and you’re more than likely to come out with the this final product every single times.”
Beginners can even use a Betty Crocker mix. The lemon cake afterward is a great bonus.
Getting down and dirty in the yard. Anecdotal evidence abounds that gardening, and touching the the plants and the dirt (when safe), especially, can help manage symptoms of PTSD. One very small Danish study published in 2016 in Health Psychology Open even proved it to be so.
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Deep breathing. It can sound so incredibly insulting … “Just breathe” is the ultimate gaslight for a person suffering from anxiety or PTSD. However, it’s true that deep breathing will bring a person with PTSD instant relief. An overwhelming amount of research shows that it works, according to a review of medical papers on PTSD, breathing and other mindfulness techniques published in the Journal of Investigative Medicine.
Stress-reduction exercises, such as yoga. That same paper published in Journal of Investigative Medicine also affirmed that stress-reduction exercises such as yoga and tai chi help reduce PTSD symptoms. Never tried yoga? Taking a class is a good way to get an isolated person with PTSD out of the house. Not to worry, most people seeking to learn yoga are chill, or at least want to be.
Changing your way of thinking to being “mindful.” Mindfulness, simply put, means living in the present. During a panic attack, being mindful might be as simple as touching something near you to remind yourself that you are OK, you are not in danger right now, you are safe wherever you are. According to the National Center for PTSD, “While attending to the present, mindfulness also entails a stance of acceptance, or willingness to experience an array of thoughts and emotions without judgment.”