PTSD and Massage Therapy

Posted on October 17th, 2014 by Shari´ Parks

PTSD – post traumatic stress disorder is often connected to war related trauma. Often includes physical and/or psychological harm to the individual or a loved one. While doing research for this blog, I felt a bit overwhelmed with all the information. Since Oct 2001, approx. 1.64 million U.S. troops have been deployed. A staggering 18.5 percent return home with either PTSD or depression.

A program in Texas created by clinical psychologist John Fortunato combines group and individual therapist that include massage therapy, reiki, meditation, yoga, and other holistic approaches. The 6-9 month program is a rigorous 35 hour treatment week. According to Fortunato, “In order to stay alive, their bodies have been hyperaroused for so long, that they come back home and cannot turn it off. The body doesn’t even remember how to relax. Massage therapy helps soldiers sleep.”

From a 2005 study, positive changes have been seen following massage therapy. By decreasing the clients cortisol levels with bodywork, a reduction of hyperarousal and danger occurs. Increasing serotonin and dopamine in the brain, an ease of anxiety is felt.

In the hands of well-intentional therapist, PTSD sufferers can restore the most basic human needs of safety, trust, control and self-worth.

* Melinda Elliott. “Back from Hell”;
* Tanielian T, Jaycox LH. “Invisible Wounds of War: Psychological and Cognitive Injuries, Their Consequences, and Services to Assist Recovery.”
* Field T, Hernandez-Reif M, Diego M, Schanberg S, Kuhn C. Cortisol Decreases and Serotonin and Dopamine Increase Following Massage Therapy.

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