by Stephanie Chambers and Dr. Christoph Streicher
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is mental health condition that can develop after experiencing a traumatic event like being at war or being raped, or being involved in a major accident or assault. Although a complex and difficult disorder, essential oils may be used help with some of the symptoms commonly experienced. Around 3.6% of adult Americans (5.2 million people) currently suffer from PTSD.
What is PTSD?
People who suffer from this condition experience the same adrenalin “fight-or-flight” response, even though they are no longer in danger. Scientists are still investigating why some people develop PTSD, yet others exposed to the same experiences don’t. They are looking for genetic factors and the way the brain functions in stressful situations.
PSTD symptoms vary from person to person. There are four main types of symptoms:
- Reliving – flashbacks, nightmares, frightening thoughts
- Avoidance – feeling the need to avoid situations that remind them of the initial trauma, distressing memories, thoughts or feelings, numbness or anxiety
- Negative cognitions and mood – these can be a myriad feelings, from a persistent and distorted sense of blame of self or others, to estrangement from others or markedly diminished interest in activities that were previously pleasurable, to an inability to remember key aspects of the event
- Hyperarousal – always feeling on edge, easily startled, having difficulty sleeping, angry outbursts.
In children, the PSTD can also be accompanied by a return to bedwetting, loss of the ability to talk, clinging to an adult, re-enacting the trauma during playtime etc.
PTSD symptoms usually begin within a few months of the incident, but sometimes they can first surface years after the traumatic event. The symptoms must last more than a month for them to be clinically considered PTSD. Generally, PTSD makes it hard to go about normal life. It can be accompanied by depression, substance abuse, or other anxiety disorders.
If the trauma symptoms disappear within a month after the triggering event, it is generally called Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) instead of PTSD.
In terms of PTSD treatment, some people benefit from psychotherapy. Sometimes psychotherapy includes cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. Others benefit more from medications such as antidepressants; however, they do have side-effects. Sometimes, people need both medications and psychotherapy.
Generally, getting into a good routine with a good diet and exercise regime can help. There has been some research1 showing that the Transcendental Meditation technique can help with PTSD.
Essential Oils For PTSD
One of the most important essential oils to try if you are suffering from PTSD is Helichrysum Serotinum. It has all the therapeutic benefits of the normal Italicum species of Helichrysum, but on top of that, the serotinum variety is known for its powers to access and process deep-rooted emotional issues. Its comforting scent may help you to get in touch with unresolved feelings and emotions that may have been suppressed for a long time. It can help access forgotten memories and is therefore a valuable tool for processing and healing emotional injuries like PTSD. You may like to try diluting it to 2% in any carrier oil (10 drops per tablespoon) and massaging it in to wherever you feel discomfort (e.g. the temples, the heart etc).
Caution: Helichrysum Serotinum is a powerful oil and should only be used for its psychological effects if the client is comfortable with the aroma.
Jjust as some people find one treatment more effective than another, some people will find they resonate and benefit more from one essential oil than another.
Some people find Rose very effective for grief. You could try diluting Organic Rose Otto Essential Oil as this is the most comforting type of Rose Oil and massaging it into the heart area. Generally, you would dilute it to 2% in any carrier oil (10 drops per tablespoon). Or, you could put a few drops in a bath.
Another essential oil traditionally used for trauma is Cistus (also known as “Rockrose,” even though it isn’t related to the rose family). It can be diffused, diluted to 2% in any carrier oil (10 drops per tablespoon) and used in a whole body massage or diluted and used in a relaxing bath.
Depending on the symptoms experienced, you may also find Anxiety Free Roll-On Relief or Anxiety Free Synergy useful. Some people resonate more with Stress Free Roll-On Relief or Stress Free Synergy. Deep Rest Roll-On Relief or Deep Rest Synergy may also be useful if you are having trouble sleeping.
You may find these pages useful:
- Essential Oils For Anxiety And Stress
- Essential Oils For Depression
- Essential Oils For Unwanted Emotions.
Whether you have PTSD or are feeling the effects of a trauma you have experienced, we hope these tips are helpful. If you have used essential oils to heal PTSD, we would love to hear what has and hasn’t worked for you. Please comment below. Thanks for sharing so all can benefit.
Disclaimer: The statements made on this page have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They are not intended to diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. If a condition persists, please contact your physician or healthcare provider. The information provided is not a substitute for a face-to-face consultation with a healthcare provider, and should not be construed as medical advice.