Nearly 7.7 million Americans suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, brought on by childhood trauma, abuse, violent crimes, military experiences and many other situations. If you have been diagnosed with PTSD, or think you might have it, you should consider alternative physical therapies to supplement medications and traditional psychotherapy. One potentially helpful therapy that has been recently found effective in treating PTSD is massage.
What Symptoms Can Massage Therapy Relieve?
Massage therapy, especially deep tissue massage, can reduce muscular tension, decrease cortisol levels, and increase your serotonin and dopamine levels.
People suffering from PTSD, especially as the result of injury, often hold physical tension throughout their bodies. This tension can make you feel sore and tired. Deep tissue massage can relieve this tension, making you feel able to cope with emotional aspects of your trauma and function more effectively in your current situation.
High cortisol levels are associated with a constant feeling of fear and anxiety. Both deep tissue and relaxing Swedish massage can reduce these levels, helping you sleep better and be less nervous overall.
Serotonin and dopamine are responsible for making you feel happy, safe and secure. Human touch can raise these levels, allowing you to engage more intimately with people you trust and therefore decreasing depression.
Is Massage Therapy Right For You?
Massage therapy may not be right for all sufferers of PTSD, especially those who have suffered physical abuse and may be triggered by human touch. However, if you enjoy safe touch in a secure setting, massage has been shown to help those who have suffered from sexual abuse.
It should be noted that massage therapy is not only effective for those who have suffered physical trauma. It can help reduce anxiety associated with witnessing violence or tragedy. However, if you have suffered a car accident or something similar, regular massage can help relieve leftover physical pain that results in psychological tension.
To decide whether massage will be helpful for you, you should consult your doctor and a massage professional.
What Can You Expect During a Session?
When you schedule your first session, you will want to let your massage therapist know that you suffer from PTSD. This can make them change their routine to better accommodate your needs. While your massage therapist does not need to know any details of your specific trauma, you should let them know if there are places you do not want to be touched, or areas that suffer from constant pain or tension.
Once the massage begins, you may feel many emotions including anxiety and fear. However, you are most likely to feel more positive emotions such as relief, or a release of grief. If you feel the urge to cry, it is okay, as is stopping the massage at any time.
You may want to have a session scheduled with your psychotherapist after your first massage to help process the experience. You should also keep in mind that multiple sessions may be necessary for you to begin to trust your massage therapist enough to get the full benefits of massage.
While massage therapy is a great supplemental treatment for PTSD, it does not replace the care of a physician and psychologist. You should continue seeing these professionals, even if you notice improvement from your massage sessions. Additionally, if you have not been diagnosed with PTSD, you should seek out a primary care provider you trust for additional info.
With all of the forms of PTSD treatment available, it is important that you add one that you enjoy. A relaxing massage may be just the thing you need to help make your overall treatment successful.