Understanding the Holistic Approach to Treating Anxiety and PTSD

Addiction Recovery Publishing Nutrition March 19, 2024

Understanding the Holistic Approach to Treating Anxiety and PTSD

The reality of mental health and recovery in recent years is that it is more common to treat someone with medication than to treat them with meditation. It is more common to treat them with a prescription than it is to treat them with nutrition. This is especially true when it comes to how people are being treated for their anxiety and PTSD. Yes, of course, pharmacology has been a major boon in the treatment of mental health in the modern era. But, it is also important to understand that there is a holistic approach to treating these issues as well.

What Does Healing at the Cellular Level Mean?

Healing at the cellular level means healing all aspects of the self. This includes the physical self, the emotional self, the mental self, and the spiritual self. All of these parts work together in unison to ensure that one is living their best life. So, when one of these pieces is having issues, all of the others are affected. This is particularly pertinent to people who struggle with anxiety and PTSD.

Many people have a misconception that anxiety is only a psychological issue, and this solely needs a psychological solution. This is simply not the case. When one is anxious, it affects them down to their core. Yes, of course, it affects one emotionally. But, It can also manifest itself physically in the form of headaches and body aches and pains. It can affect one mentally and cognitively and cloud one’s thinking. Lastly, it can break one’s spiritual journey by causing one to lose hope and a sense of something greater than oneself.

Because of the way mental illness can affect the whole self, it is important to create a recovery plan that is both individualized and comprehensive. These are the types of recovery plans that can help one heal at the cellular level because these are the types of recovery plans that meet all of an individual’s needs and “leave no stone unturned” when it comes to addressing the root/core causes of one’s issues. 

Better Understanding Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety and anxiety disorders are some of the most common mental health issues facing people today. Now, according to the clinical journal Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, “Anxiety disorders, including panic disorder with or without agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, specific phobias, and separation anxiety disorder, are the most prevalent mental disorders and are associated with immense health care costs and a high burden of disease. According to large population-based surveys, up to 33.7% of the population are affected by an anxiety disorder during their lifetime.” However, they also note, “Substantial underrecognition and undertreatment of these disorders have been demonstrated.”

Anxiety disorders also come in many types and have many different levels of severity. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “For people with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. The symptoms can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, schoolwork, and relationships.” Also, “There are several types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and various phobia-related disorders.” Now, these anxiety disorders can manifest for several different reasons, but one very common reason is trauma and/or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Better Understanding Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD is actually more common than many people may think. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), “About 6 out of every 100 people (or 6% of the U.S. population) will have PTSD at some point in their lives.” Also, “About 5 out of every 100 adults (or 5%) in the U.S. has PTSD in any given year. In 2020, about 13 million Americans had PTSD.” These are not insignificant numbers, and as more studies are being solidified, the belief is that many more people are struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic is just one example of where PTSD can manifest. According to NIMH, “Anyone can develop PTSD at any age. This includes combat veterans and people who have experienced or witnessed a physical or sexual assault, abuse, an accident, a disaster, or other serious events. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened, even when they are not in danger.”

There are also many signs, symptoms, and side effects that are common to PTSD. The following are just a few of them:

  • Having flashbacks and reliving traumatic events
  • Showing physical signs of stress such as hair loss and nail-biting
  • Being triggered by certain objects, phrases, or situations
  • Experiencing an elevated heart rate and excessive sweating
  • Avoiding places for fear of being triggered
  • Changing one’s routine to avoid certain people or places
  • Becoming easily startled
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Experiencing problems with sleep, including sleeping too much or sleeping too little
  • Exhibiting excessive mood swings

As one can see, many of these signs and symptoms also correlate to what one experiences when they are also struggling with anxiety. The good news is that there are many effective ways to treat anxiety and PTSD.

How Are Anxiety and PTSD Treated?

Perhaps the most common way that anxiety and PTSD are currently treated is via a program of psychotherapy like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and pharmacology like antidepressants and mood stabilizers. These methods are highly effective for many people as they can both get to the root/core causes of one’s anxiety and PTSD and also stop the symptoms of anxiety and PTSD from interfering with one’s day-to-day life.

Now, while the more “traditional” way of treating anxiety and PTSD can be highly effective, it is not the only way that they can be treated. There are alternative methods and a more holistic approach. It is also important to note that it does not have to be one or the other. Many people utilize both Western and Eastern modalities when it comes to treating their anxiety and PTSD.

Understanding the Holistic Approach to Treating Anxiety and PTSD

Taking a holistic approach to recovery simply means taking a more “natural” approach to recovery. It is also a whole mind-body-spirit approach that focuses on the interconnectedness of the self. This is like the concept of healing at the cellular level, as was previously mentioned.

The holistic approach may involve many different methods, all of which tend to work well in tandem. For example, the holistic method of yoga works well on healing the body, and the holistic method of meditation works well at healing the mind. When they come together, there is a harmony of healing, so to speak. Another critical aspect of recovery has to do with getting the proper nutrition.

Treating Anxiety and PTSD With Nutritional Therapy

Nutrition is essential for healing at the cellular level. This is why we like to say “Food is medicine” here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab and also why we offer extensive nutritional therapy to our clients.

Nutritional therapy is both about what one puts into one’s body as well as what one leaves out. According to the Journal for Nurse Practitioners, “Nutritional Therapy uses food to prevent and reverse diseases that plague most western societies: diabetes, obesity, heart disease, arthritis, and depression. In order for food to be therapeutic, it must be nutrient-dense, measured in part by the nutrients and anti-nutrients, contained in consumed foods.” 

Here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we have nutrition specialists and dieticians who ensure that clients get the exact nutrients they need to heal at the cellular level. We also have world-class personal chefs who ensure that all of the food that is served is nutritious, delicious, and tailored to meet all of our clients’ specific dietary needs. On property, we also have a licensed naturopathic doctor (ND) who can ensure people get the proper vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants they need via infusion therapy.

Treating Anxiety and PTSD With Infusion Therapy

The reality is that some people who struggle with anxiety and PTSD are not getting the proper nutrients they need through traditional means. Infusion therapy can be an ideal way for people struggling with anxiety and PTSD to ensure that they are functioning physically and mentally at optimal levels. 

Now, infusion therapy works intravenously to ensure that the nutrients are fully absorbed into the bloodstream. There have also been many breakthroughs in the world of infusion therapy to ensure that people are getting exactly what they need via higher levels of customization. Some of the more popular and effective types of infusions are nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) infusions, Myers Cocktails infusions, and glutathione infusions. 

While these infusions all offer some very specific benefits, there are some overarching and overlapping benefits that can be found in all three. The following are just a few of those benefits:

  • Helps with fatigue and increases energy levels
  • Reduces stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Increases mental clarity and focus
  • Improves overall mood
  • Helps with metabolism and weight regulation
  • Improves immunity
  • Helps with skin complexion and hair growth
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Improves sleep patterns
  • Can eliminate certain toxins from the body

As one can see, these can be essential components in reducing the symptoms of anxiety and PTSD. Other tools that can help lessen anxiety are meditation, yoga, and horticulture therapy.

Treating Anxiety and PTSD With Horticulture Therapy

Horticulture therapy is an exceptional and natural way to reduce the symptoms of anxiety and PTSD. It also offers many other benefits that can be essential for healing at the cellular level.

Horticulture therapy is also something that is unique to us here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, as we have the perfect location on the Hamakua Coast of Hawaii’s Big Island to grow amazing citrus and fruit trees, pineapple patches, guava bushes, and local vegetables. Our luxury 30-acre property offers an ideal place to reduce anxiety while engaging in horticulture therapy.

According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “People’s interactions with plants, through goal-orientated horticultural activities in the form of active gardening, as well as the passive appreciation of nature, could be therapeutic to people with mental disorders in many ways. First, horticulture could have emotional benefits, such as reducing stress, reducing psychiatric symptoms, stabilizing mood, and increasing the sense of tranquility, spirituality, and enjoyment. Second, it could help people to reduce fatigue and restore attention and cognitive ability.” It has also been shown to help people build self-esteem, which is another benefit that can be gained from the practice of yoga.

Treating Anxiety and PTSD With Yoga

The renowned author and spiritual teacher Amit Ray said, “Yoga is not a religion. It is a science, science of well-being, science of youthfulness, science of integrating body, mind, and soul.” Yoga has been practiced for over 3,000 years. Initially, it was a practice that was reserved for religious or spiritual purposes but has since moved into many other areas of life. Most recently, yoga has begun to be used to help people with recovery from addiction and mental health issues such as anxiety and PTSD. 

Yoga offers many benefits that fall under the cognitive, emotional, physical, and spiritual spaces. According to the International Journal of Yoga (IJOY), “Therapeutic yoga is defined as the application of yoga postures and practice to the treatment of health conditions and involves instruction in yogic practices and teachings to prevent reduce or alleviate structural, physiological, emotional and spiritual pain, suffering or limitations. Results from [a compiled] study show that yogic practices enhance muscular strength and body flexibility, promote and improve respiratory and cardiovascular function, promote recovery from and treatment of addiction, reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain, improve sleep patterns, and enhance overall well-being and quality of life.”

There is also a very meditative quality to yoga that can help quiet the mind and reduce the symptoms of anxiety and PTSD. However, adding a specific mediation practice to a recovery plan may offer even more focused serenity.

Treating Anxiety and PTSD With Meditation

Many people avoid mediation because they feel like it is too spiritual or that they will not have the patience or the time to practice it. Neither of these things is entirely true. Yes, for many, mediation is a spiritual practice, but it does not have to be. It can be a more concentrated way of relaxing and quitting the mind. Also, mediation does not have to take a long time. In fact, many people begin by meditating for five minutes and then slowly move up from there.

Just as all of the previously mentioned holistic methods, mediation offers a vast and varied array of benefits. One of these benefits is known as trait mindfulness. According to the journal Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation, “As repeated mindfulness practice evokes the state of mindfulness, MBI [mindfulness-based intervention] participants exhibit increases in trait mindfulness over time. Trait mindfulness may be defined as the tendency to exhibit mindful qualities in daily life, including nonreactivity to distressing thoughts and emotions, as well as the tendency to observe and accept one’s momentary thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and sensations.”

This trait mindfulness is important because it can travel with an individual wherever they go. It is a tool that can be utilized whenever and wherever one is feeling anxious. One might say that it is the “medication of mediation.” 

Healing Holistically With Exclusive Hawaii Rehab

Here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we understand that the best approach to addiction and mental illness recovery is one that is both comprehensive and individualized. This is why we create recovery plans that utilize both Eastern and Western means, methods, and modalities catered specifically to each client.

There is a traditional saying that is used here on Hawaii’s Big Island that goes, “Kahuna Nui Hale Kealohalani Makua.” This means that we should love everyone and everything, including ourselves. Many people who struggle with anxiety and PTSD forget that last part, which is why we are here to love them until they once again learn to love themselves.

Holistic methods such as meditation, yoga, acupuncture, a focus on nutrition, and certain types of bodywork can be critical for recovering from issues related to anxiety disorders and PTSD. They can also be great supplemental modalities for other more “traditional” mental health therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). If you feel like you or a loved one is struggling with anxiety, PTSD, or any other type of addiction or mental illness, we can help get you on the positive path to recovery. For more information about how Exclusive Hawaii Rehab incorporates its holistic approach with other types of therapies for more optimal recovery, please reach out to us today at (808) 775-0200.