Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is often thought of as a particular anxiety disorder as a result of both acute and chronic traumatic events. Dr. Allen supports that through great traumatic events, negative mental / physical / and spiritual changes can occur in the brain and being, causing long-term anxiety and vigilance. Life can become overwhelming, and a person can often feel numb and anguished. In time, the person may feel like they have changed in a mental and physiological way that often feels less secure and self-reliant.
However, PTSD symptoms can occur from lesser events, even constant low-level stress, or even vicariously by observing or even hearing about another person(s) experiencing trauma. Though unique to individuals perhaps prone to anxiety, this hypothesis explains that, if the person appraises any threat at a level leading high up the Yerkes-Dodson Curve (high threat leads to emotion and threat-based reasoning), and the freeze response occurs (an appraisal of too great of stress to cope can lead to feelings of paralysis, numbness, overwhelm, “thousand-mile stare,” “deer in headlights”), the same types of mental-cognitive-emotional symptoms may recur in the future. The common symptoms of anxiety can include panic episodes of intense fight or flight, but also the freeze response of depersonalization / derealization, a form of separation or dissociation from thoughts, emotions, body, and environment.
Scary as these symptoms may feel to an individual with PTSD, there are effective treatment strategies for many of the problems associated with PTSD. Dr. Ben Allen uses the following approaches:
- Bottom-up Approaches: Learn biofeedback and interoception, along with physical and self-awareness strategies that lower threat response in real time, and practice these strategies frequently to condition your body to cope and be hardy against stress and adversity. Chi Gung and mindfulness approaches train the mind to stay in the present and attend for longer periods of time, while keeping the body in a steady and health state, thus reducing stress-induced thinking and reinforcing of negative behaviors. In addition, exercise, and other wellness skills help.
- Top-down Approaches: Learn how to mentally reframe and resolve the fears, change the trauma narrative and reinforcing behaviors to ones that support healing and resolve.
- Desensitization Approaches: EMDR, EFT, Timeline Therapy, Clinical Hypnosis, Exposure and Desensitization, and NLP. These protocols often help in dissolving the energy that reinforces intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, nightmares, and related threat responses.
- Recreating Meaningful Life Goals and Healthy Thoughts: As the trauma and its threatening symptoms resolve, it is time to recreate freedom and happiness through soul-searching and renewal.