Treating PTSD by Addressing the Core Causes and Underlying Emotions of Negative Behaviors

Addiction Recovery Publishing Nutrition November 13, 2023

Treating PTSD by Addressing the Core Causes and Underlying Emotions of Negative Behaviors

When it comes to addiction and issues of mental illness, many people are unaware that the issues are much more than surface level. Also, when it comes to addiction, many people say that alcohol and/or substances “are but a symptom” of the issues that lie under the surface. The same goes for the negative behaviors associated with issues of mental health. They do not arise out of thin air. No, they are associated and correlated with deeper underlying issues. Many of these issues relate to trauma. When they are not addressed, these traumas can manifest into post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If it does arise, treating PTSD by addressing these underlying traumas is critical.

The Importance of Comprehensive Mental Health Care

Renowned 20th-century psychologist Viktor E. Frankl once said, “Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather he must recognize that it is he who is asked.” This is the introspection that must happen if one is to heal from their trauma at the cellular level. Also, this introspection must happen on a multifaceted front with a multifaceted approach.

Individualized and comprehensive recovery plans are the ideal way to approach issues of trauma and an optimal way for treating PTSD. Comprehensive plans that include traditional mental health modalities, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), experiential therapies, such as ketamine and nature immersion therapy, and holistic treatments, such as acupuncture and yoga, can be highly beneficial in treating PTSD. 

Understanding PTSD: An Overview

Many people use the term PTSD without fully understanding what the disorder actually entails. This is partly due to the online conversation of surface explanations without in-depth explanations. 

According to the clinical write-up, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, by Doctors Mann and Marwaha, “Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a syndrome that results from exposure to real or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual assault. Following the traumatic event, PTSD is common and is one of the serious health concerns that is associated with comorbidity, functional impairment, and increased mortality with suicidal ideations and attempts.” PTSD can arise from many different types of incidents.

Doctors Mann and Marwaha explain that “The development of posttraumatic stress disorder in individuals is linked to a large number of factors. These include experiencing a traumatic event such as a severe threat or a physical injury, a near-death experience, combat-related trauma, sexual assault, interpersonal conflicts, child abuse, or after a medical illness. Chronic PTSD occurs in patients who are unable to recover from the trauma due to maladaptive responses.” Of course, PTSD is personal to the individual, and the trauma does not have to fall directly under one of those categories. However, regardless of where the trauma arises, the signs and symptoms of PTSD tend to be rather universal.

Signs and Symptoms of PTSD

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of PTSD can become the difference between short-term side effects and long-term consequences. When it comes to treating PTSD, time can be of the essence. So, seeing the signs early can be crucial.

The following are just a few of the more universal signs and symptoms of PTSD:

  • Having flashbacks of the traumatic event
  • Experiencing recurring thoughts or upsetting memories regarding traumatic events
  • Trouble sleeping due to nightmares or disturbing dreams
  • Being triggered when something happens that is reminiscent of some aspect of the trauma
  • Avoiding talking about the past or even thinking about specific traumatic events
  • Experiencing sudden mood swings
  • Avoiding certain “people, places, or things” that may trigger emotions regarding the specific traumatic event or events
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Having a negative view of oneself

There are also issues of memory loss, the potential for dissociation, having trouble maintaining relationships, feeling detached from the world, feeling numb to the world, being easily scared, feeling a sense of shame about a traumatic event, and feeling overly anxious and/or depressed. If some, many, or all of these signs and symptoms exist, it is highly advised that professional help be sought as soon as possible. 

The good news is that there are many effective treatment options for healing from PTSD at the cellular level. Ultimately, the key is to address the underlying core causes from the beginning of the recovery process. “Traditional” mental health modalities are an ideal way of ensuring that this happens.

Treating PTSD: The Importance of Addressing the Underlying Core Causes With “Traditional” Mental Health Treatment Modalities

Many people are trying to get away from “traditional” mental health therapies because there is some feeling that they are “antiquated” or out of date. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Traditional mental health therapies are crucial because they are the therapies that have the most evidence-based research surrounding them. The only reason that they may feel slightly older is because they are, which means that they have also had more research put into them.

These are therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), psychodynamic therapy, and interpersonal therapy. All of these therapies can be highly effective at getting to the root/core causes of trauma and PTSD.

Treating PTSD With Interpersonal Therapy

Interpersonal therapy is a therapy that focuses on how one interacts with those closest to them. It can be ideal for treating PTSD because it increases self-esteem and it can help with necessary communication skills. 

The article, Interpersonal Psychotherapy: Principles and Applications, offers a look at how an interpersonal therapy dialogue might go. It reads, “The therapist links the target diagnosis to the interpersonal focus: ‘As we’ve discussed, you are suffering from major depression, which is a treatable illness and not your fault; From what you’ve told me, your depression seems related to what’s happening in your life right now; You stopped sleeping and eating and began to feel depressed after your mother died, and you’ve had difficulty in coming to terms with that terrible loss… I suggest that we spend the next 12 weeks working on helping you deal with that bereavement.'”

Now, as one can see, this therapy can be helpful because it gives autonomy and authority to the individual. It allows the individual to engage with their emotions on their own terms. Many people who struggle with PTSD tend to shut down when they are confronted too abruptly. This type of therapy avoids that type of confrontation. Psychodynamic therapy shares some of these essential concepts and characteristics.

Treating PTSD With Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy comes out of the school of psychoanalysis. This involves allowing the individual to discuss whatever might come to their minds as a way to begin to identify certain cognitions that might be related to their negative emotions and behaviors. Also, this can include more fantastical thoughts, fantasies, and even dreams and nightmares.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA) and its article, Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Brings Lasting Benefits through Self-Knowledge, “Psychodynamic therapy focuses on the psychological roots of emotional suffering. Its hallmarks are self-reflection and self-examination, and the use of the relationship between therapist and patient as a window into problematic relationship patterns in the patient’s life. The goal is not only to alleviate the most obvious symptoms but to help people lead healthier lives.” Psychodynamic therapy is also one of the influences of CBT.

Treating PTSD With Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

CBT is one of the most utilized mental health therapies today, and there is a reason for this: it has been shown to be highly effective at getting to the underlying issues of certain mental health and addiction disorders. This therapy is also highly accessible, which is why it is often utilized at many recovery centers.

According to the peer-reviewed journal Cognitive Therapy and Research, “Consistent with the medical model of psychiatry, the overall goal of [CBT] treatment is symptom reduction, improvement in functioning, and remission of the disorder. In order to achieve this goal, the patient becomes an active participant in a collaborative problem-solving process to test and challenge the validity of maladaptive cognitions and to modify maladaptive behavioral patterns. Thus, modern CBT refers to a family of interventions that combine a variety of cognitive, behavioral, and emotion-focused techniques.” Just like the other two therapies thus far discussed, this ”active participation” is critical.

The idea of CBT (and these other therapies) is to get to the underlying issues of emotional trauma safely and gradually. Once these underlying issues are brought to the surface, then the client and the therapist can discuss the negative behaviors that are associated with them and how they can best be mitigated or avoided altogether. Now, DBT is actually derived from CBT. As one can see, these traditional methods are very much linked to one another.

Treating PTSD With Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Yes, DBT comes from CBT, but there is a significant difference in that it has a focus on uneasy thoughts and emotions and negative behaviors. It has more to do with acceptance than mitigation and/or avoidance.

DBT is a comprehensive therapy. According to the article, Dialectical Behavior Therapy: Current Indications and Unique Elements, “DBT is a comprehensive program of treatment consisting of individual therapy, group therapy, and a therapist consultation team. In this way, DBT is a program of treatment, rather than a single treatment method conducted by a practitioner in isolation. Often, clinicians are interested in applying DBT but find the prospect of implementing such a comprehensive treatment to be daunting. In this case, it is important to remember that the most critical element of any DBT program has to do with whether it addresses five key functions of treatment.” 

These functions are “enhancing capabilities, Improving motivation and reducing dysfunctional behaviors, generalizing skills to the environment, structuring the environment, and enhancing therapist capabilities and motivation.” Also, these functions can be helped when utilized in tandem with other types of therapies, such as nature immersion therapy and ketamine therapy.

Treating PTSD With Nature Immersion Therapy

Many people who struggle with trauma struggle with interacting with the world around them. This is part of the avoidance aspect of PTSD. Nature immersion therapy can help individuals struggling with trauma reconnect with themselves via nature.

According to the peer-reviewed article, Guide to Nature Immersion: Psychological and Physiological Benefits, “Besides physical health improvements, nature exposure can bring about positive influence upon psychological constructs such as boredom, friendliness, well-being, and liveliness. However, across more than one hundred studies on nature/wildlife exposure, stress mitigation has been shown to be one of the most consistent and important psychological benefits.” Also, “improvements to physical and psychological well-being, exposure to natural environments has been shown to bring about positive impacts on cognitive functioning.” These are overall benefits, but they are also essential elements to treating issues of trauma and treating PTSD.

Treating PTSD With Ketamine Therapy

Ketamine therapy can be an ideal way to treat trauma. More and more evidence is coming to light that ketamine therapy can help get to the root/core causes of PTSD quicker than other forms of traditional therapy (though a combination of ketamine and traditional therapies is ideal).

According to the article, Ketamine as Treatment for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder: A Review, “PTSD has been described as a state of hyperarousal plagued by intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, and nightmares. Given that these intrusive thoughts have been linked to NMDA {N-methyl-D-aspartate-type glutamate] over activity, animal studies have shown some of the potential anxiolytic properties of NMDA antagonism by using ketamine.” To break that down into more “digestible language,” ketamine therapy has been shown to be effective in both animal and human studies. There are also some more holistic options for treating PTSD. One of these options is yoga.

Treating PTSD With Yoga

Yoga has been practiced for over 3,000 years. While it started primarily as a religious practice, over time, it has expanded into other areas. One of these areas is the realm of recovery.

Yoga’s benefits can be hard to measure. However, there have been many studies that have shown its efficacy in treating issues of mental health, trauma, and addiction.

According to the International Journal of Yoga, “Yogic practices inhibit the areas responsible for fear, aggressiveness, and rage, and stimulate the rewarding pleasure centers in the median forebrain and other areas leading to a state of bliss and pleasure. This inhibition results in lower anxiety, heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, and cardiac output in students practicing yoga and meditation.” Also, “Consistent yoga practice improves depression and can lead to significant increases in serotonin levels coupled with decreases in the levels of monamine oxidase, an enzyme that breaks down neurotransmitters and cortisol.” Ultimately, yoga can lead to a state that is essential for getting to the root/core causes of trauma.

Exclusive Hawaii Rehab: Offering Healing at the Cellular Level

Here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we understand that trauma can interrupt every aspect of a healthy trajectory and successful life and lead to PTSD. But trauma does not have to rule our lives. There are many effective ways to combat and recover from it at the cellular level.

Now, there is a saying we have on the Big Island of Hawaii that goes, “E hele me ka pu’olo.” This means that we must always leave something in a better place than when we left it. Yes, this is what happens when we work to recover from issues of trauma and treat PTSD. We work on ourselves in order to heal and become new, healthy versions of ourselves.

E hele me ka pu’olo also means that we should always bring something positive with us wherever we go. When we heal from trauma, this positive component that we bring along is a new version of ourselves no longer hindered by our past. We bring with us a new horizon by which we can live the dreams that we’ve always deserved.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of the more common types of trauma-related mental health disorders affecting people today. This is why it is crucial to get the underlying issues of PTSD because PTSD is chronic and will only get worse without proper and professional intervention. Here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we utilize multiple modalities to ensure that the most comprehensive recovery plan is made to address the needs of individuals struggling with PTSD. If you feel like you or a loved one may be wrestling with issues of mental health, addiction, or both, we can help. For more information on addressing the underlying root/core causes of trauma and PTSD, please reach out to Exclusive Hawaii Rehab at (808) 775-0200.