PTSD and Somatic Symptoms
Understanding and treating PTSD can often improve the outcome of chronic disease, such as GI tract problems and heart disease. Anxiety is a reaction to stress that has both psychological and physical features. Anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety, phobias, social anxiety, PTSD, OCD, panic disorder, etc. The feeling is thought to arise in the amygdala, a brain region that governs many intense emotional responses. As neurotransmitters carry the impulse to the sympathetic nervous system, heart and breathing rates increase, muscles tense, and blood flow is diverted from the abdominal organs to the brain. In the short term, anxiety prepares us to confront a crisis by putting the body on alert. But its physical effects can be counterproductive, causing light-headedness, nausea, diarrhea, and frequent urination. And when it persists, anxiety can take a toll on our mental and physical health.
Anxiety often goes unidentified as a source of other disorders such as substance abuse or physical addiction, that can result from attempts to quell anxiety. And it's often overlooked in the myriad symptoms of chronic conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or migraine headache.
Anxiety has been implicated in several chronic physical illnesses, including heart disease, chronic respiratory disorders, and gastrointestinal conditions. When people with these disorders have untreated anxiety, the disease itself is more difficult to treat, their physical symptoms often become worse, and in some cases, they die sooner.
Reference: Harvard Health Publishing
At the Operational Stress Recovery Program, we utilize a variety of treatment modalities such as biofeedback/neurofeedback, EMDR, CBT, and somatic therapies to decrease anxiety and the physical manifestation of psychological trauma on the body. Somatic therapy is a form of body-centered therapy that looks at the connection of mind and body and uses both psychotherapy and physical therapies for holistic healing. In addition to talk therapy, somatic therapy uses mind-body exercises and other physical techniques to help release the pent-up tension that is negatively affecting the clients physical and emotional wellbeing. We are continually adapting our somatic program and adding new evidence-based therapies that can be life-changing for veterans and their families dealing with PTSD.