Geeky mystic: musings on trauma

As I said recently, I’m a geek.  And I tend to run experiments on myself, which is a time-honored tradition among psych researchers (and others; see also: hemlock).

Recently I’ve been making seven-league-boot levels of progress in therapy and related places.  Why?  Because a whole bunch of techniques are gaining legitimacy and visibility, and they are much faster and more efficient than the old methods.  As one researcher said on a recent webinar about neurofeedback, “We used to have to go through the mind to get to the brain.  Now we can go directly to the brain.”

Most of the research and techniques that are emerging relate directly to trauma treatments.  Some, like hypnosis, have been around for a while but are becoming more accepted.  Some, like neurofeedback, have been in development for a while but are just coming to a useful maturity.  All of them have varying results, because the people who are the subjects vary, but the conclusion is that they are worth trying.

One of the things that makes psych research different from other fields is that even the industry standard treatments, like antidepressants, are a best-guess-shot-in-the-dark that don’t work for everyone, and don’t have the same effect on everyone for whom they do work.  If you go to your psychiatrist and decide that you should be on antidepressants, you could well spend months testing drugs on yourself–get a PGT test to see if anything is clearly not going to work, and then take one, see how you do, if it works, great, but if it doesn’t then titrate back off of it and try another one, lather-rinse-repeat until you find something that really helps…and hope you don’t build a tolerance or develop an adverse reaction.

I can tell you from personal experience: doing this while depressed is one of the most exhausting things ever, especially since side effects can include things like lethargy and low sex drive, and sometimes you get all the side effects with none of the benefits.

Why does this matter?  Because with statistics like the ones for Zoloft and Wellbutrin, the odds of effectiveness for hypnosis or neurofeedback or homeopathy suddenly look downright gorgeous, and with the timeline for standard meds involving weeks of titration up and down, it might even make sense to try the alternative treatments first.

I was staring down the barrel of traditional antidepressant treatment recently.  It seemed like nothing was going to work.  Then I saw a naturopath and started homeopathic treatment.  Changed. My. Life.  Your mileage will vary, so be careful.  This is just my experience.

Time to adjust to a homeopathic treatment: typically 1 week.  Time to antidote if it’s having an adverse effect: in me, 4 hours.

Time to full effectiveness of hypnosis: varies, as fast as right away, as long as several months.  Time to reverse the effect: almost immediately, usually.

Cost for any of these treatments: usually about $150/hour, more for neurofeedback, less for others.  Cost of homeopathic remedies: varies, but generally under $30 for a one-month dose.

If it doesn’t work, you can still try the pills.

But paying attention to how your body feels you can often get faster and more effective treatment without using anything from Big Pharma at all.

nota bene: 1) I am not a doctor.  Do not take any of this as medical advice, because it isn’t.  2) don’t change your treatments without consulting with the appropriate professional.  That would not be me.  3) there is a place for traditional antidepressants.  for those for whom they are the right treatment, they are literally a lifesaver.  But if that isn’t feeling like the right solution for you, you have some other options.  4) alas, insurance doesn’t cover most of this

NEXT TIME: I will talk about what happens when you suddenly fix what’s wrong with you after years of having a problem.

WANT MORE?  Marcia Baczynski and I are doing a call, Embodiment for Brainiacs, on November 1st.  We’re going to jam about bodies and intuition and gut feelings and how that all fits in our geeky and logical brains.  Sign up here.