A woman has opened up about how she manages her PTSD with a technique known as primary screaming or scream therapy.
Cristina Alciati, 54, a fitness coach, who lives in Essex, developed severe PTSD after experiencing severe trauma that manifested as panic attacks.
“For months, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t think,” she says. “I was really scared of everything, even things that no one should be afraid of. I would see a leaf moving in the wrong direction and my mind would jump ahead.
“It was literally ruining my life, because I couldn’t function like a normal person anymore.”
Alciati believes her mental health issues began in childhood after experiencing bullying and an “abusive environment” at home. “The environment I grew up in meant I was always on edge from an early age,” she explains.
Introduction to “death metal scream”
After seeking professional help from the NHS, Alciati was diagnosed with PTSD, but treatment was not an easy process.
While she has benefited from the therapy she received from a mental health charity, she also describes her methods of coping with her trauma: she screams death metal.
During the lockdown, voice coach Jo Ellul gave Alciati what she describes as death metal screaming lessons via Zoom, something she says has really helped her recover.
“Screaming is a good way to let go of anger,” she explains. “If you’ve been silenced for some reason, and you’ve just let it all out in a way that’s non-confrontational, it gives you a massive and amazing release. It’s best done under supervision because it also picks up a lot of emotions that are stuck in your body.
“You also need to scream in a way that doesn’t destroy your vocal cords,” she adds.
Alciati said she has no intention of stopping her primal screams, though she often gets some shocked reactions from both her partner and strangers.
Now she hopes that by sharing her story, she can encourage others with PTSD to think outside the box when it comes to their recovery.
“It was really helpful to talk to a counselor for six months, but the unconventional stuff is also a good way to release it,” she adds. “It’s about following your instincts.”
What is Scream Therapy?
Scream therapy stems from a treatment approach called primal therapy developed in the 1970s as a way to release pent-up emotions, Zo Aston, a therapist and mental health counselor, previously told Yahoo UK.
In everyday life the feeling of wanting to scream is something we will all experience, but nine times out of 10 we have to suppress that primal reaction.
What we don’t realize is that the psychological response to wanting to scream lights up a part of your brain called the amygdala; this is the part of the brain that holds trauma, memories, and emotions.
Aston explains that the amygdala is activated when we are threatened, whether it be our job, family, health or wealth, somewhere along the line we will have experienced some psychological threat.
If your amygdala doesn’t get a signal that it’s safe again, if it doesn’t shut down, you’re left in trauma mode and experience the fight-flight-or-freeze response that can contribute to mental health decline and long-term stress, he says . .
How does scream therapy help our mental well-being?
Aston says when you scream with the desire to create change, you let go of what’s holding you back and give yourself the message that change is possible.
Yelling clears some of the emotional blocks that may have built up and releases the charge, she explains.
The charge that is released is the stagnant and repressed emotion that can lead to symptoms of anxiety and depression.
When we give ourselves permission to release and express feelings that we have been avoiding, the mind gets the message that it is actually safe again, it comes out of survival mode and into prosperity mode, it frees up brain space to be able to improve decisions.
This helps reduce stress levels and improve mental well-being, adds Aston.
One of the main benefits of scream therapy is the activation of adrenaline which helps us all work with our fears and other difficult emotions rather than ignoring them or letting them control us,
Yelling, shouting, letting off steam, letting off steam are all ways to regain some power at a time when we’ve felt so unexpectedly helpless, says Aston.
It is essential to have appropriate, responsible and accessible forms to effectively release our frustrations.
Caters additional reports.
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