What are the effects of unresolved shock following a traumatic event?
What natural first aid can you give to alleviate shock and restore well-being?
The recent devastating flood damage in our Golden Bay community got me thinking about both the short and long term effects of shock on our health. It’s so important to have effective ways of dealing with shock when it happens so that it doesn’t continue to impact on our wellbeing for years to come.
Shock is a common term for an acute stress response involving the sympathetic nervous system. When a traumatic event occurs that suddenly causes extreme terror, loss, injury pain or threat, either personally experienced or witnessed, the response can be a feeling of intense helplessness. The body and mind go into a state of shock. The immediate symptoms can include being in a dazed state of confusion, disorientation, inattention to people and surroundings, and short term loss of speech or memory. The next stage can be increased withdrawal or agitation, anxiety, panic and impulsive behaviour.
The onset of a shock reaction is usually within minutes of the impact of the traumatic event, and although the initial extreme state of disorientation may subside within a short time, a continued state of numbing unreality, overreaction to stimuli, flashbacks, anxiety and under-functioning may continue for several weeks. In many cases some of these symptoms then become part of a longer term picture, indicating the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
As a craniosacral therapist, two decades specialising in unresolved trauma held in the body has taught me a lot about the long term effects of shock. Unresolved shock stored in the tissues is characteristically confused, disorganised and disruptive in nature – just like the behaviour of a person in the initial stages of a shock reaction! The stored body memory is like an encapsulated MP3 of the traumatic event, stuck on replay although no longer so obvious to the conscious mind. Eventually this stored shock energy creates such dysfunction in the surrounding tissues they may produce physical symptoms of disease.
When we have a traumatic experience it affects every level of our being. Even if the trauma is an emotional one, the physiological reactions generated by it demonstrate how the emotional and physical are very much interlinked. For example the adrenal glands (our stress glands) can become burdened and eventually exhausted by continued overproduction of stress hormones in response to emotional stimuli.
Meanwhile, our interpretation of the trauma experience occurs on the mental plane, giving rise to changes in our thoughts and attitudes about the world we interact with. This influences our life choices, often leading to restrictive solutions which may diminish the spirit, lowering our vital force. Therefore on every level: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual, the interactive effect of shock takes its toll on our health.
Don’t underestimate the long term effect a shocking experience can have. Take action to resolve it in the early stages if possible, but at any stage, even years later, it’s possible to work with the body’s natural healing processes to help release the shock affect and restore function.
Vibrational medicines offer one of the best approaches for dealing with residual shock no matter how long ago the traumatic event occurred. Here are three forms of vibrational medicine I recommend to support someone in a state of shock, whether recent or long term:
Rescue Remedy is the Bach Flower combination for emergency situations. While Star of Bethlehem is the specific flower essence for shock, all aspects of the shock reaction are covered by the five flowers contained in this formula.
Arnica 30C is the specific homoeopathic for treating shock, and for any form of physical injury. It comes in either liquid or tablet form, and my personal preference is the dropper bottle of liquid which I carry with me at all times. For any injury, large or small, Arnica 30C is my first aid of choice. The advantage of the liquid is it can be applied directly to an injury site (provided the skin isn’t broken) as well as taken orally. It’s great for immediate pain relief and to reduce the shock affect. I also give Arnica 30C in my practice when I see signs of a client releasing shock associated with resolving an old trauma during a craniosacral therapy session.
Heel’s Traumeel liquid or tablets is a combination of homoeopathic substances, including Arnica, which is another effective option for resolving the after effects of trauma. As well as proving clinically effective for the physical symptoms of trauma, Traumeel addresses shock on every level to help restore function and well-being.
By Carolyn Simon ND, DipMedHerb
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