The Balance: Trauma and Anxiety
How Mary Treated Post-Traumatic Stress with Acupuncture Following the Chelsea Bombing
The Balance is a monthly series of patient success stories at Olo Acupuncture. In this post, Mary shares how Licensed Acupuncturist Jane Terrana, MSTOM, L.Ac. helped her regain balance and find anxiety relief from the the post-traumatic stress she experienced following the Chelsea Bombing.
M: Following the September 2016 bombing on West 23rd Street in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, Olo offered free acupuncture sessions to those who had been traumatized by the disturbing events. The bomb had exploded beneath my window, and I began experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Although I didn't know much about acupuncture, I thought I'd give it a try.
M: My symptoms included sheer terror that would come upon suddenly. The feeling was so strong at times that I had to just stand still; I couldn't move. My days were affected by anxiety, fear of walking past where the bomb exploded and headaches in the back of my head.
Since I had never tried acupuncture before, I didn't know if it would help with my symptoms, but I felt some relief from the anxiety after the first session. After the second session, my shaking stopped. When the free sessions were over, I purchased five more sessions with Jane. I confided in her about the extreme terror I was experiencing, and how it was happening more frequently. I don't know what she did with those needles, but after sessions with Jane, the terror went away and hasn't returned.
J: Traumatic events, whether emotional, physical or psychological, can live in our bodies for a long time. The movement and shape the body took to protect us during the initial event can be stored as muscle memory so it’s as if the event is imprinted onto our cells, muscles and nervous system. Sometimes using points that help to release the tense muscles can help patients to process trauma. Sometimes patients are unaware of where the trauma is stored because there is an overall feeling of discomfort, so I’ll use points to help balance out the nervous system. For Mary I used points to help calm down the fight-or-flight response so that she would feel less panic during the day and could sleep better at night. I see lots of patients with anxiety/trauma/PTSD and balancing the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system is always part of the treatment. I tailor treatments to help that person feel most comfortable depending on which systems are most affected (sleep, digestion, adrenals, etc).
M: I had no idea if this treatment would help, but to my surprise and delight, acupuncture worked! The terror is gone, my body isn't shaking anymore and the anxiety has lessened. I would like to thank Olo for offering free acupuncture sessions to those of us affected by the bombing.
J: Everyone has the potential to respond differently but most people tend to feel calmer after receiving one treatment. Acupuncture is cumulative so in order for the results to last, multiple treatments are necessary. After each consecutive treatment the relief typically lasts a little longer. The more severe the response to trauma is the more treatments someone will need to feel lasting results. Typically I recommend scheduling the first five treatments close together (e.g., two to three treatments per week) and then spacing them out as the symptoms begin to reduce.
I didn’t make lifestyle recommendations for Mary when she first came in. Trauma is difficult enough to process without having to start changing your daily routine. I just told her to come in as often as she can while the symptoms were severe. Once she started to feel better, we began talking about diet and lifestyle but this was in regard to other issues she wanted to address.
M: The service is wonderful and the staff is friendly, supportive and kind. Jane is a miracle worker. Not only is she pleasant, but she answers all of my questions. She really knows her stuff, and I would recommend her to anyone suffering from PTSD, no matter what the cause. Actually if you want to try acupuncture for any ailment, go to Olo and see Jane. She is a top notch acupuncturist who has helped me more than I believed was possible.
J: Mary was amazing because she was so open to the experience. She came as often as was recommended (every day for the first week) and asked questions so that she understood the process. She allowed herself plenty of time (about an hour) to relax during treatment. Not everyone is able to dedicate as much time to the healing process because of work and life responsibilities and that’s OK. However, due to the cumulative nature of the treatments, the more time someone is able to dedicate in the beginning of the treatment process when symptoms are most severe, the sooner that person will typically being to feel improvement.
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