How spa medicine and rehab can help with PTSD

We often associate spa medicine with old films or retirees: inside on beach promenades. And maybe one or the other thinks: “Yes, a holiday in the seaside resort would certainly be nice and fasting cures should also be healthy. But what does this have to do with a serious mental illness like PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)? ” In fact, cures and rehabs are becoming increasingly popular as a supportive accompaniment to psychotherapeutic treatment of PTSD and can support healing and reintegration into everyday life well.

What is spa medicine?

Spa medicine, a rather old word that we hardly use any more today, means a multitude of different therapeutic approaches and methods. What they all have in common is that spa treatments always consist of several sessions. In addition, cures are natural healing methods that can often be tied to a specific location because they use certain local resources.

In this context, we often know sea cures in particular, the salty, moist air of which brings relief from many diseases, or salt pans. Hot springs and water with certain mineral compositions are also popular and baths, compresses or internal applications are performed here. The term balneology or spa medicine includes all these healing methods that work with mud, earth, peat and healing waters.

Other cures that you can do from home are, for example, fasting cures like the ancient ones recommended by Hildegard von Bingen. They usually go hand in hand with other treatments such as baths and herbal extracts. We know another form of cure from Asia, namely Ayurvedic cure medicine, also called Panachakarma. Here diet changes are combined with massages and various forms of detoxification in order to create a new physical balance.

Although many people take a cure to reduce or prevent physical suffering, spa medicine always has a mental aspect as well. Simply by offering a protected space outside of everyday life, a healthy environment and new stimuli, the cure not only heals the body, but also the mind. In addition, body healing measures and, above all, a healthier diet always have a positive effect on mental health.

Rehabilitation and rehabilitation clinics

In contrast to the classic cures, the aim of rehab is to restore physical, mental and social health. In connection with PTSD, rehab is of course not an alternative to therapy, even if the affected person is accompanied by competent staff. It can by no means replace psychotherapy, but it is ideally suited for accompanying and supporting a therapy.

As with cures, patients escape their everyday life and their obligations during rehab and are thus much more open to new ways of thinking and living. Rehabilitation can help you find your way back to everyday life and work, especially after successful treatment for PTSD.

Some treatment centers specialize in particular in PTSD patients and are particularly familiar with the problems and symptoms of those affected. Specialists, psychotherapists and psychologists with a lot of experience work there who can support patients in dealing with their trauma.

Treatment of PTSD in the context of rehab and cures

During rehab or treatment, people with PTSD can learn to control unintentional memories (flashbacks) and deal with their trauma. The focus is also on dealing with and reducing the side effects of PTSD such as depression, anxiety and sleep disorders. Finally, after the treatment, it should be possible to make an easy transition to an unrestricted private and professional life according to the wishes of those affected.

The treatment for this is based on three important starting points: Psychotherapy with various methods that have been tried and tested for PTSD, the restoration of physical balance through physiotherapy, baths, occupational therapy and a change in diet and the mind-body connection, which is supported by holistic therapeutic approaches.

The mental component consists primarily of psychotherapy and includes methods such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy. If desired or necessary, patients are provided with constant psychotherapeutic support.

The physical component deals with biochemical tests that can be used to determine physical imbalances. In addition to diet and lifestyle, traditional spa baths and physiotherapy also play a role here.

The mind-body connection is strengthened in rehab or cure through holistic approaches such as yoga and massages. In addition, patients have the chance to learn relaxation techniques such as autogenic training, progressive muscle relaxation, Thai Chi or Qi Gong. Music, art and movement therapies are also used here.


Marktl, Zizenbacher, Schroth et al .: Spa medicine. (2019).