Man participating in aquatic-based PTSD therapy in San Diego, CA
We understand mental illness and the difficulties it creates for those who suffer from it. At our San Diego Mental Health Treatment Center we are sensitive to your challenges. Solara will find every possible solution to enable you to live the life that you are meant to live.

MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLNESS

Aquatic-Based PTSD Therapy

Post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD, can be a debilitating mental health disorder. An innovative holistic treatment for PTSD has emerged called aquatic-based PTSD Therapy. Aquatic-based PTSD therapy can help reduce PTSD symptoms and can even help with anxiety and depression.

Solara Mental Health in San Diego, California, offers aquatic-based PTSD therapy for veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD water therapy has grown in popularity in recent years, thanks to increasing evidence of its positive effects for military veterans and other individuals struggling with PTSD. Aquatic-based PTSD therapy is utilized in addition to evidence-based therapies to help reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

We have partnered with Healing Wave Aquatic, a premier provider of aquatic bodywork therapies for military veterans, active duty personnel, and caregivers living with the debilitating impacts of post-traumatic stress.  This partnership helps our patients reduce their stress levels, get better sleep, improve their ability to think clearly, and minimized physical pain by participating in aquatic therapy.

What is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder, short PTSD, is a medical condition caused by experiencing or witnessing a specific event. The event is typically so terrifying that it ‘sears’ itself into the victim’s memory, inducing symptoms like flashbacks, nightmares, and general anxiety that can affect how they live their lives.

PTSD is common among military veterans, with up to 20% of veterans with an active service record experiencing at least some of its symptoms. But its causes range far beyond military service, including anything from vehicle accidents to work events, health problems like a traumatic emergency room visit, physical or sexual assault, childhood abuse, and more.

The key to healing is effective PTSD treatment. With the proper medical steps, the condition can fade away as victims begin to learn how to adjust and cope with the event in question. Untreated, victims can spiral into deeper symptoms and depression, even leading to suicide in some cases.

What is Aquatic-Based PTSD Therapy?

Explicitly used to treat trauma, aquatic therapy typically includes 1:1 sessions between a professional and a patient. The water temperature approximates that of the human body, inducing feelings of comfort and immersion. The professional guides the patient through gentle stretches and movements that relax the body and release the stressors a condition like PTSD can bring.

Typically, the goal is for the patient not to exhaust themselves while staying in the water. Floats assist the legs, the air in the lungs causes the body to float, and the professional will hold the head.

Post-traumatic stress disorder water therapy specifically includes a few sequences of exercises:

  • Grounding opens the session as a way for the patient to slowly immerse themselves into the pool and begin to loosen their body.
  • Stillness allows the patient to calm down to an almost meditative state, fully trusting the therapist with any movements and allowing the patient to build a connection with their breath and body.
  • Stretching is a process many of our patients compare to yoga: slow, intentional body movements that test the body’s range of motion in a calm and supportive environment.
  • Swishing means moving the body back and forth and from side to side, causing the body to relax naturally as movements are guided by the water as long as the pace is intentionally slow.
  • Outward expansion involves feeling the body’s limits in a gentle stretch to each side, symbolizing the extension of the mind to the outside world.
  • Inward folding counterposes the expansion, with exercises creating a safe space within the patient to retreat while the water supports their body.

Together, these movements–always guided by a trained and certified therapist–allow the patient to reconnect their body and mind, fighting some of the more destructive effects of a condition like PTSD.

Benefits of Aquatic-Based PTSD Therapy

In a recent review in the Journal for Occupational Therapy and Mental Health, researchers outlined a few core benefits of PTSD water therapy:

  • Improving sleep quality and increasing recovery periods in which the body is without stress.
  • Improving cognitive function in both men and women, allowing rational thought to take over when dangerous flashbacks or harmful thoughts can threaten the patient’s well-being.
  • Improving the patient’s emotional well-being through low-stress physical activity that allows for true relaxation.
  • Yoga and swimming, and the combination of both, can reduce anxiety.

The authors concluded that while more research is necessary, aquatic-based therapy shows significant potential in decreasing PTSD symptoms that range from depression to sleep disturbances and even suicide attempts.

How Aquatic Therapy Helps Veterans

General aquatic therapy benefits, of course, also and especially apply to military veterans. The need to be in a safe space can be even more significant for veterans who may have experienced environments in which no space around them seemed to be safe. A feeling of calm can be immensely beneficial after an active duty period or deployment in which chaos could reign at any second.

These benefits extend to the fact that even the sound of splashing water causes the brain to release dopamine, creating a calmer and happier mindset that carries far beyond the time spent in the water. Lowering anxiety and depression leads to increased calm periods, better sleep, and ultimately the mental strength to live with and move beyond PTSD.

Finally, one study examined how aquatic therapy can help military veterans. The study found that after an eight-week program, PTSD symptoms for veterans decreased by nearly 30% for participating veterans.

Aquatic-Based PTSD Therapy for Veterans in San Diego

Suffering from PTSD can be debilitating. Having the right professionals as partners in the recovery, on the other hand, can go a long way on the road to recovery and re-entry into the joys of everyday life.

Especially for veterans, it can be challenging to get over the stigma of mental health treatments. And yet, those treatments can be essential to reintegration into civilian life. Aquatic-based therapy, especially when combined with other and more traditional methods of treatment, is a great way to gently introduce means of therapy designed to treat the symptoms of disorders like PTSD non-intrusively.

At Solara Mental Health, we pride ourselves in the mental health treatments we offer to veterans who are struggling with disorders like PTSD. Our professionals provide holistic and evidence-based therapies like aquatic therapy but will create a unique treatment plan for each patient.

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Terri

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Dad

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