Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and movement.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and movement. Throw off the shackles and run or move to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. Traumatic memories are packaged differently in our brains than ordinary memory. A variety of techniques is used to restore access to and weaken them. Movement plays a very important role here: our memory of events is connected with our muscle memory. Pay attention to these 4 techniques:

1. Desensitization and Processing by Eye Movement (EMDR)

When we think, our eyeballs move synchronously with our thoughts. Try to fix the eyeballs at one point — and you will notice that the train of thought has slowed down. The method developed by Shapiro specifically for treating post-traumatic stress disorders helps restore access to traumatic memories and weaken them. Walking in the park, Frances noticed that the beginning of her anxious thoughts coincided with a specific motor pattern of the eyes. And that changing this pattern also leads to a change in feelings.

2. Neurogenic tremor. Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE).

This body-oriented technique is based on exercises that stimulate active muscle tremors, vibrations that spread through the body. As a result, a person feels relief and relaxation of tension. This method was developed by Bersely, a volunteer in hot spots. When he was hiding in the basement from the bombing, he noticed muscle patterns and reflex movements in response to stress and how shaking helps reduce the effects of stress. The exercises of this method are simple and available on YouTube.

3. Physical activity.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is associated with decreasing and avoiding physical activity. However, aerobic activity and other types weaken the symptoms. When we move, we produce more neurotrophic factors, in particular BDNF — and the higher its level, the higher the neuroplasticity and the more likely the weakening of traumatic memories. It is ideal to combine this with nature. Walk as much as possible — changing the visual picture helps to switch thoughts (when you are sitting in the same room, the same picture is around, this provokes rumination and looping). Physical activity also increases the level of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA.

4. Rub yourself.

All activities aimed at stimulating the vagus and enhancing the parasympathetic tone weaken the symptoms of PTSD (its activity is associated with a high tone of the sympathetic system and the amygdala). Washing with cold water, self-massaging the face and hands, reading aloud, singing songs, stretching, massaging, hugging other people, and looking into their eyes … however, direct transcutaneous stimulation of the vagus with portable devices is also effective.

I want to freeze and not go out. It’s scary that sports or excitement will provoke traumatic memories again. But in reality, movement liberates — throw off the shackles and run.

Treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder with eye movement desensitization and reprocessing: outcome is stable in 35-month follow-up Psychiatry Res 2008 May 30;159(1–2):101–8.

Transcutaneous Cervical Vagal Nerve Stimulation in Patients with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): A Pilot Study of Effects on PTSD Symptoms and Interleukin-6 Response to Stress J Affect Disord Rep. PMC 2021 Dec 1.

Physical activity in the treatment of Post-traumatic stress disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis Psychiatry Research Volume 230, Issue 2, 15 December 2015, Pages 130–136