What are the new treatment interventions for trauma and depression

Trauma and depression - Centres for Health and Healing

Trauma recovery can be a slow process, but healing is possible with the proper treatment and supportive measures.

Treatment for trauma and depression varies, and what works for one person may not necessarily work for another.

Broadly, people heal from trauma at an individual pace, and there are no definitive timelines or one-size-fits-all solutions.

Traumatic events

When a person encounters a traumatic event, many chemicals, biological and emotional processes get activated to help them get through whatever difficulty they face.

Often referred to as ‘fight, flight, or freeze’, the body releases a charge of hormones that come from your adrenal, pituitary, and hypothalamic systems to help you cope with a traumatic event.

Physiological response

During the fight, flight, and freeze stage, you may notice physiological changes in your body.

For example, your heart rate might speed up, you may also breathe a lot faster than usual, and you might even experience weakness or muscle tension throughout your body.

Trauma specialists report that trauma can create neurological, physiological and emotional effects – these effects may only be short-term, whereas others are prolonged.

Post – traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

When trauma symptoms persist, a person may get diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Statistics show that approximately 10 – 20 percent of trauma survivors will develop PTSD after a traumatic event.

Fortunately, with advanced technology and research methods, trauma treatments for PTSD have improved substantially over the years, which is excellent news for trauma survivors and mental health professionals.

Treatment options for PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder has been widely researched, with studies illustrating several effective treatments for trauma.

Several therapeutic approaches and medications have proven to be effective, which seek to address the root cause of trauma and alleviate PTSD symptoms.

PTSD therapies include:

  • Neurological therapies
  • Psychotherapy
  • Medication
  • Self-care measures

Advantages of therapy

PTSD treatment can be profoundly beneficial to those experiencing trauma-related symptoms.

Moreover, treating PTSD from a holistic modality can produce far better outcomes for trauma survivors.

For example, trauma specialists seek to address the root cause of the trauma and suggest better-coping skills for the future.

The most effective therapies for treating trauma include:

  • Alleviating and reducing depression symptoms
  • Decreasing the chance of a depression relapse
  • Alleviating and reducing anxiety symptoms
  • Working on self-care measures to improve daily functioning

Neurological treatments for PTSD

PTSD treatments seek to target all the different trauma responses, for example, emotional, physiological and neurological.

Neurological treatments focus on the brain and nervous system to help reduce symptoms and restore function.

Since many of the long-term effects of PTSD are neurological, targeting the above areas of the body is vital in restoring and replenishing emotional well-being.

Eye movement desensitisation reprocessing (EMDR)

Evidence-based treatments such as EMDR have proven to be significantly effective when targeting the neurological implications of trauma.

EMDR is a type of therapy that uses repetitive eye movements to disrupt and re-pattern trauma-related memories.

Therapy sessions

After an initial assessment, you and your therapist will select a traumatic memory that you find incredibly challenging.

As you discuss the memory details with your therapist, you will get guided through a series of bilateral eye movements (side to side movements).

During therapy sessions, you will gradually learn to process any disturbing memories and associated thoughts and feelings.

Over time, the above process will help you reframe any negative memories more positively.

Desensitisation and reprocessing EMDR

EMDR therapy aims to help people reprocess traumatic memories that could not effectively get processed during the event.

Indeed, having the space to reprocess difficult memories helps change any incorrect beliefs created in the memories’ original climate.

For example, many people blame themselves when something terrible happens.

Thus, individuals may create a belief system that prohibits healing, giving trauma the space to continue breeding.

Replacing old beliefs

By replacing negative beliefs with positive ones, for example, ” I am a no-good person” with ”I did the best I could with what I knew at the time”.

Here, the individual begins to reverse the pattern of self-blame.

The benefits of EMDR

Studies have shown that EMDR can help reduce the symptoms of PTSD, including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Flashbacks
  • Paranoid beliefs and thought patterns

Emotional freedom technique (tapping)

The emotional freedom technique (EFT) teaches people to tap specific rhythms on different body parts, such as the hands, face, head and collarbone, while actively reframing trauma-related memories.

Therapy sessions

EFT is usually done throughout four to ten sessions and gets used alongside other therapies, such as exposure and cognitive therapies.

Research shows that emotional freedom techniques can significantly reduce depression, anxiety, pain, and PTSD symptoms.

Experts report that EFT may also help reduce the amount of cortisol (stress hormone) in the body.


Psychotherapy sessions - Centres for Health and Healing

Sometimes referred to as talk therapy, psychotherapy can effectively treat PTSD symptoms.

Psychotherapy draws on many modalities and is based on cognitive behavioural therapy principles – a form of therapy that addresses maladaptive ideas, thoughts, and behaviours.

Prolonged exposure therapy

As mentioned, in the aftermath of a traumatic event, trauma survivors often adopt unhealthy thinking patterns and belief systems.

Prolonged exposure therapy addresses any unhealthy thinking patterns related to trauma.

For instance, in the wake of trauma, a person may no longer trust that the world is safe and may adopt avoidance behaviours as a form of self-protection.

The fear response activated during a challenging event hasn’t entirely switched off, leaving the person in a perpetual state of hyperarousal.

During prolonged exposure therapy, your therapist will educate you on your trauma symptoms and equip you with the necessary tools to help you calm down and cope when faced with a challenging or scary situation.

You and your therapist will create a hierarchy of fears and work through them, from the least frightening to the most intense.

When you feel comfortable enough to move onto the following hierarchy, you will move through the process until any fears, and negative thinking patterns get addressed.

During prolonged exposure therapy, you’ll learn that any thoughts and memories are not dangerous and do not need to get avoided.

Cognitive processing therapy (CPT)

Trauma-focused therapy, such as cognitive processing therapy, is based on the concept that you cannot process whatever difficulty occurred in the aftermath of a traumatic event.

To make sense of what happened, a person may blame themselves or come to a series of unhealthy conclusions.

For instance, if a loved one suddenly passes away, individuals may blame themselves or the healthcare team for not acting quickly enough.

Cognitive processing therapy seeks to address any incorrect beliefs, ideas and thought patterns by helping the individual to reframe them in healthier, more positive ways.

Therapy sessions

CPT usually takes place over twelve sessions, where patients and therapists work through any maladaptive thoughts and behaviours and process what happened through writing or talking.


According to the American Psychological Association (APA), specific medications can effectively treat PTSD.

Common medications prescribed for PTSD treatment involve selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

People must speak with their doctor or medical provider before taking any medication.

Self-care measures

To manage PTSD, anxiety and depression symptoms, a person can do a lot to help themselves.

Recent research shows that yoga and meditation are profoundly helpful complementary therapies for PTSD.

While such therapies may not offer complete relief for PTSD symptoms, experts believe they are excellent complementary therapies alongside medication and treatment therapies.


Meditation helps restore balance and allows you to stay present, giving you more control over any intrusive thoughts or memories.


Yoga therapy - Centres for Health and Healing

Yoga helps increase awareness in the body, regulate breathing, and allow people to respond to stress and any changes in the body more positively.


Since trauma affects so many different parts of the body; it can cause severe disruption to a person’s life, hindering their ability to function.

Gold standard treatments involve cognitive behavioural therapy, prolonged exposure therapy, cognitive processing therapy, and psychotherapy.

Studies show that the effectiveness of therapies like EMDR and EFT are promising and can help people recover from PTSD.

The harrowing implications of trauma can cause significant distress and can adversely affect a person’s life, even years after the event has subsided.

However, recovery from trauma is possible with the proper support and treatment.

Speak to a specialist at Centres for Health and Healing today to find out more.

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