Brainspotting for PTSD: millions affected by trauma, but untreated

This article describes millions of people being affected by trauma, but not getting properly diagnosed and properly treated. PTSD symptoms experienced after delivering a stillborn baby include: numbness, vivid paranoia,  bursts of anger, inability to differentiate between the past and the present; and flashing back to the delivery table.

“According to experts, it is highly common for the disorder to go undetected. Pervasive misconceptions about who develops PTSD, and confusion over its complex cluster of symptoms, can prevent people with the disorder from seeking treatment — or realizing they have it at all. ‘You’re talking about millions’ of people suffering from PTSD without a diagnosis, said Bessel van der Kolk, author of the seminal book on the subject, ‘The Body Keeps the Score,”’ and a leading expert in the field of treating trauma.”

“Paula Schnurr, executive director of the National Center for PTSD, said about 70 percent of adults in the U.S. experience at least one traumatic event, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines as an experience ‘marked by a sense of horror, helplessness, serious injury or the threat of serious injury or death.’ But only 6 percent of the population will develop PTSD at some point in their lives, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the bulk of whom are women. Scientists are still trying to identify the biological and societal factors behind these discrepancies — like how generational trauma, the notion that some elements of PTSD may be passed down genetically, works, and what “complex” trauma, which is caused by repeated traumatic events, does to one’s psyche.”

In 1980, “‘when we first created this diagnosis of PTSD, we said it came from an extraordinary event outside of the range of human experience,’ Dr. van der Kolk said, referring to the scientists and researchers who treat the disorder. ‘That’s how completely out to lunch we were — to think that trauma is exceptional.'”

“Early intervention is critical for managing, and potentially preventing, PTSD. But it can take up to two years or more for people exhibiting symptoms to get a diagnosis, Dr. Jain said, and those who don’t receive treatment within the first two years have much lower odds of recovery.”

Many people “start therapy for PTSD only after years of struggling with the disorder, straining to navigate symptoms that, with earlier treatment, may never have developed in the first place.”

“Part of the reason people delay treatment is because ‘avoidance is the hallmark of PTSD,’ said Vaile Wright, the senior director of health care innovation at the American Psychological Association. The disorder hard-wires people to ignore reminders of trauma — they make their lives smaller and smaller to block out any evidence of what happened.”

“Too few therapists receive that training, though, said Yuval Neria, director of the PTSD Research and Treatment Program at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. And the disorder is especially hard to treat because it is so often linked to other mental health concerns: addiction, depression, anxiety. Unless clinicians are specifically trained to ask about trauma, they might struggle to identify PTSD as the root issue in a patient.”

Elaine Korngold, LPC at in Portland, Oregon, treats PTSD and trauma using a powerful and effective combination of Brainspotting therapy and Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy. She considers PTSD not so much as a “disorder”, but a natural reaction of the body with its nervous system to abnormal circumstances, all in order to help the person survive. The body does not fully resolve the trauma until both, the physical and the emotional components of the event, are fully healed. Treatment with Brainspotting and IFS can be done immediately after the event or at any time after. Contact Elaine for more information about this treatment.