“I can’t sleep. When I lay in bed at night, my anxiety and bad memories haunt me and keep me awake. I’m scared if I fall asleep, the nightmares will come. Every night between 2am and 3am, I wake up again with insomnia. When my alarm finally goes off, I’m exhausted. It’s hard to focus on my schoolwork, exams and job interviews when I’m such a tired, jumpy mess.“
Freda, University Student
Can’t sleep? You CAN stop anxiety, nightmares and insomnia caused by traumatic memories. With better sleep, you can invest your energy in building your future instead of being dragged down by your past. Try these three tips for a better night’s sleep, inspired by the legendary trauma expert, Dr. Judith Hermann.
1. Calm your nervous system
Trauma is stored in the body, not just the mind. You may notice that you’re more jumpy than usual, and you may feel your anxiety and fear in your body, a burning in your chest, shaky hands, tight shoulders or restless legs. Once you notice how you feel traumatic stress in your body, you can work to release it. Try a good workout like running or dancing to burn off nervous energy. Then, calm your nervous system with breathing-based movement like yoga or meditation. Body work like massage, Feldenkrais or acupuncture can also help rebalance your energy. A tired body and a calm nervous system will make you less likely to suffer from anxiety, nightmares and insomnia at night.
2. Clear your mind
Your mind may feel stuck in the past, as if the traumatic event is still happening now, over and over again. This is a typical symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Talk to your doctor about therapy for your trauma. In the meantime, writing about the traumatic memory can help you clear your mind to get a good night’s sleep. Detrauma is designed to walk you through five writing therapy exercises to relieve distressing symptoms like anxiety, nightmares and insomnia, day or night.
3. Reconnect with your life
Traumatic memories have a way of trapping you in the past. Try intentionally focusing your energy on the present moment to divert your mind. Activities that require your whole attention like playing sports, doing art, socializing and helping others will help retrain your mind to focus on the present moment rather than the past.
By calming your body and nervous system, clearing your mind of bad memories, and filling your days with joy and connection, you’re more likely to hit the pillow at night with a clear head and get a good night’s sleep without anxiety, nightmares and insomnia.
Are you seeking the best way to recover from trauma but are overwhelmed by all the options? Should you try EMDR first, start a gratitude journal, dive into exposure therapy, or practice yoga?
Trauma recovery follows three stages according to the legendary Harvard psychiatrist, Dr. Judith Herman: 1. Establish Safety, 2. Remember and Mourn, and 3. Reconnect. You’ll recover from PTSD symptoms like flashbacks and panic attacks more fully if you start at the beginning and take it one step at a time.
Here are some actions you can take to successfully navigate each stage in your recovery.
Step 1: Establish Safety
Is your body stuck in fight-or-flight mode and reacting to the world like you’re still in danger? Then start your recovery with Step 1, establishing safety. Try yoga, breathing exercises, supportive counseling, and healthy routines to teach your body and brain that you’re safe now. The aim of Step 1 is to calm your nervous system down and establish the inner feeling of safety and stability.
Step 2: Remember and Mourn
Once you feel calm, safe and energized to tackle your trauma, you’re ready to move to Step 2. In this next stage, you’ll teach your brain that the traumatic event happened in the past, and is no longer happening now. Techniques like Detrauma correct the ‘memory coding error’ that causes re-experiencing like flashbacks and nightmares. You can achieve this by confronting the memories that are causing you distress and reprocessing them safely.
You may also mourn what you’ve lost, for example, trust, relationships, beliefs, a home, health, or a career. This second stage of recovery is challenging, and a counselor, peer support group or therapist can help you tackle it safely. The healthy practices you established in Step 1 will also help you feel grounded and safe while you tackle the past.
Step 3: Reconnect
With the memory of trauma safely filed away in the past where it belongs, it’s time to rebuild your life in the present, and pursue your aspirations for the future. In step 3, you’ll reinvent a new self and discover new meaning and depth in your life.
Like many survivors, you may develop and deepen relationships with loved ones, friends and your community and learn to trust again. You may thrive and flourish by keeping a gratitude journal, expressing yourself through art, dance or spirituality, or driving change in your community through social activism.
The best way to recover from trauma is to follow your own unique path through these 3 stages.
When you’re ready for Step 2, try Detrauma
Detrauma guides you through writing therapy, step by step. You’ll confront your distressing memories with pen-and-paper writing exercises. You’ll teach your brain that the traumatic event happened in the past, and that you’re safe now.
Writing therapy was developed by psychologists at the National Center for PTSD, and has been validated in clinical trials to substantially reduce or remove PTSD symptoms like flashbacks and panic attacks.
After trauma strikes, survivors often hear, “go get therapy!” But when they try, they’re put on a waiting list for weeks, months or even years. What can you do if you’re stuck on a long waiting list for trauma therapy, and can’t afford private PTSD treatments?
We developed Detrauma to make a highly-effective trauma therapy accessible to everyone who needs it. The five, 30-minute writing sessions help you tackle the traumatic memories that may be the root-cause of your distress.
Clinical studies show that Detrauma’s writing exercises relieve PTSD symptoms and are just as effective as face-to-face trauma-focused therapy. It’s affordable, private, and you can finish it in five days or five weeks. It won’t jeopardize your position on the therapy waiting list, and you can even bring your writing to your first therapy session to give your treatment a flying start. In the meantime, you can start healing and enjoying life again.
One billion people worldwide (12.9% of the population) suffer from PTSD at some point in their lives, according to the WHO’s global mental health survey. The leading causes are intimate partner or sexual violence (28%) and unexpected death of a loved one (22%). Symptoms last, on average, six years, but for many they persist for decades. While median recovery time is 6 years, many never recover. Around a third of physical, intimate partner and sexual violence victims still endure PTSD symptoms 20 years after the trauma.
Only a quarter of PTSD sufferers get therapy
Post-traumatic stress causes debilitating symptoms like flashbacks, nightmares and panic attacks, which can shatter sufferers’ careers, family lives and physical health. Still, barriers to treatment, including cost and social stigma are so overwhelming that only a quarter of sufferers receive therapy. A dramatic shortage of trained therapists has led to wait lists of months or years at rape-crisis centers, refugee services and veterans clinics around the world.
A radically affordable digital solution
Detrauma is a radically affordable writing therapy, whose vision is to put relief into the hands of 1 billion survivors of trauma. Detrauma is based on Written Exposure Therapy, an evidence-based trauma treatment developed and clinically validated by researchers at the National Center for PTSD. It was designed to overcome the obstacles that prevent people from receiving effective trauma treatment. Users write about their trauma in five, 30-minute guided writing exercises, which are clinically proven to dramatically relieve symptoms of PTSD. Because the therapy is based on writing, rather than talking, it can easily be delivered via mobile phone, privately, at home.
Rock-solid privacy and confidentiality
Social stigma, distrust of health services, and concerns about privacy and confidentiality are key barriers that prevent victims of trauma from seeking help. Detrauma’s privacy credentials are rock solid, because we don’t collect any data from our users. Detrauma doesn’t ask for a name, email, phone number, payment details, login, or any other personal information. All usage data is stored on the user’s own phone, and is not sent back to Detrauma. Users complete each writing exercise with a pen and paper. Afterward, they can even shred or burn the paper to avoid anyone ever reading it!
No fancy phone or internet required
To make trauma relief available to one billion survivors, we designed Detrauma to be used in lower resource environments. Detrauma is a light mobile app, which even works on older Android phones with limited memory or functionality. After download, it needs no internet access or data. It even works with shared mobile phones, as the writing exercises are done on paper, not on the device.
Detrauma is a mental health app designed to deliver trauma (PTSD) treatment to people without access to a therapist. Worldwide 1 billion survivors suffer from PTSD.
We help trauma survivors get off waitlists and offer instant access to therapy. People in remote locations and those with limited health insurance and financial resources also use Detrauma.
We serve end-users who have experienced trauma and want treatment and intermediaries such as rape crisis centers, refugee services, health clinics, and domestic violence hotlines.
The Detrauma app makes evidence-based trauma therapy accessible and affordable to everyone who needs it. Detrauma’s writing exercises can be completed at home in just a week. Unlike traditional therapy, Detrauma is affordable, private, and fast. The writing exercises are based on Written Exposure Therapy, which is as effective as trauma-focused talk therapy, and is recommended by the National Center for PTSD.
Jessica Mello is strategy consultant turned co-founder who solves old problems with new technology. She built Detrauma at her kitchen table during the Covid-19 lockdown, inspired by people’s urgent need for private, effective, home-based trauma treatment.
Jessica helped lead the renaissance of Bermuda’s tourism industry, co-founding the Bermuda Tourism Authority in 2013. She previously worked at Deloitte Consulting and AECOM, holds an MBA from London Business School, and lives between Berlin and Bermuda.
Philipp Schmidt is Chairman of Detrauma and an investor.
He is the owner of an investment advisory firm focused on the language learning sector.
He previously worked at Babbel, Sony Pictures and Warner Media and holds an MBA from London Business School.
This combination of delivering users real relief from PTSD while being so easily accessible is why we think WET is a game-changer for trauma treatment. Detrauma’s mobile app puts WET’s five writing exercises into users’ own hands so they can tackle their trauma at home.
Written Exposure Therapy is fast
WET is quite simply five, 30-minute writing sessions. With a little extra set-up time for the first session, the entire process adds up to just three hours. There is no homework between sessions, and no talk therapy involved. Most PTSD therapy methods require twelve 60 to 90 minute sessions. That’s 12 to 18 hours of therapy, plus weekly homework. WET takes a fraction of the hours.
Psychotherapists typically schedule their clients weekly, meaning that twelve PE or CPT sessions would take three months, and WET would take five weeks. More frequent sessions result in substantially greater PTSD symptom reduction. This means that in just five days, clients can achieve real relief from PTSD symptoms with daily writing sessions like Detrauma.
Written Exposure Therapy is affordable
Psychotherapists charge around $200 per hour. Twelve, 90-minute sessions for a recommended treatment like Prolonged Exposure (PE) or CPT can therefore cost $3,600. This price point puts PTSD treatment out of reach for huge numbers of people.
Totaling just three hours of treatment, WET would cost around $600 to complete all sessions with a psychotherapist. That’s just 1/6th of the cost of PE or CPT.
Detrauma has digitized the therapist’s role in WET, rolling the writing instructions, assessments and feedback into a privacy-conscious mobile app. The user can self-administer the entire program. Digitization brings the price down under $10, making trauma relief available to everyone who needs it.
Written Exposure Therapy is accessible
Most PTSD treatments are not only expensive and time-consuming for clients, but also for psychologists. It can take months and significant financial resources for a psychologist to train and get certified in an evidence-based treatment like PE or CPT. So while these methods are highly recommended by the VA/DoD, only a small minority of psychologists use them to treat PTSD. Someone suffering from PTSD may want an evidence-based treatment like PE or CPT, but they may struggle to find someone to provide it to them.
WET overcomes these key barriers of availability, cost and time. Narrative writing treatments can be effectively delivered by laypersons, volunteers, and health care workers like nurses, and over the internet. WET’s instructions and process are easy to follow and use, both for the provider and the client. And WET is non-proprietary, so the writing exercises are even available in Detrauma’s mobile app.
Written Exposure Therapy is easy
WET is easy to follow and to finish, for people with diverse backgrounds, educations and traumas. Crucially, the dropout rate for WET is very low, probably because clients see positive improvements in their symptoms quickly, with so little time and effort invested. In one clinical trial, only 6% of WET participants dropped out of treatment compared to 39% of CPT participants.
Detrauma makes written exposure even easier by putting all five writing exercises into your hands on your mobile phone.
Written Exposure Therapy is effective
Developed and clinically validated by Dr. Denise M. Sloan and Dr. Brian P. Marx, two leading authorities at the National Center for PTSD, WET makes highly effective PTSD treatment accessible to anyone who needs it.
People who complete WET’s five 30-minute writing sessions see long-lasting, clinically significant and substantial reductions in their PTSD symptoms. All 20 WET participants in a 2012 clinical study achieved relief from their PTSD symptoms and reversed their PTSD diagnoses. As the results show below, their relief was long-lasting, persisting through the six-month study period.
Tackle PTSD with Detrauma
Detrauma is a new mobile app that puts Written Exposure’s five writing exercises, assessments and feedback into your own hands. Detrauma collects zero data from users, so it’s 100% private. It has no ads, no in-app purchases, and no subscription.
Good trauma therapy can be transformational and liberating. Unfortunately, the high cost and a lack of insurance coverage put it out of reach for many.
Here are some alternatives to consider, depending on your budget.
$1,200 – Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE)
Trauma therapy can cost $200 per session, and with recommended programs like Prolonged Exposure lasting twelve sessions, a course of therapy can cost thousands of dollars. Check your health insurance to see if you have coverage for psychotherapy like PE.
$20 per session – Yoga
The effects of trauma are felt in both the mind and the body, and yoga is recommended by top trauma expert, Bessel van der Kolk, to reduce these effects. If a $20 yoga class isn’t affordable or accessible, then look for free yoga classes on YouTube. Stick to a weekly yoga practice to really experience the positive results.
$200 – Weighted Blanket
Can’t sleep? A weighted blanket can give your body a feeling of safety and calm, like a big hug. It can reduce the feeling of stress and anxiety at bedtime, common with PTSD, which can help you sleep better.
While more than half of Americans live through a traumatic event in their lifetimes, many don’t get help afterward. Why? Good trauma therapy can be difficult to access, even for those who want and need help.
Barriers like language prevent them accessing therapy
Their family or friends don’t support getting therapy
How can you tackle post traumatic stress if you can’t get access to therapy? Written Exposure is a clinically proven alternative to talk therapy to address PTSD. You write in a private place, in your own language, and you can even burn your paper once you’re done. Research shows that these writing exercises are equally or more effective than face-to-face psychotherapy to tackle the symptoms of post traumatic stress. With Detrauma, you’ll get all five 30-minute writing sessions for just 5 bucks.
Can’t access therapy for trauma or PTSD? Try Detrauma instead.
They don’t want to talk to a stranger about their feelings
They don’t want others to know about their problems
Talking about trauma is scary
Therapy could damage their career
They’ve had bad experiences with counselling before
Their family or culture doesn’t encourage therapy
They don’t trust the mental health system
Written Exposure as an Alternative PTSD Therapy
How can you tackle post traumatic stress if you don’t want to talk to a therapist? Written Exposure Therapy is a clinically proven alternative to address trauma. You write in a private place, in your own language, and you can even burn your paper after you’re done. Research shows that these writing exercises are equally or more effective than face-to-face psychotherapy to tackle the symptoms of post traumatic stress. With Detrauma, you’ll get all five 30-minute writing sessions for 5 dollars, without therapy.