Trauma and PTSD are linked in the brain for some people who experience these two things. For most, it is an ongoing issue that caused the PTSD, including multiple episodes of an experience that caused trauma. Men and women are prone to traumatic experiences and at risk, especially at young ages. PTSD is a mental health condition that can impact overall functioning. It may disturb sleep, create a negative mood, anxiety, or difficulty functioning for a time. Find out how the brain is impacted and ways to navigate this challenge.
What is PTSD
PTSD is a mental health condition that occurs in response to trauma. The trauma usually involves a sense of life-threatening complications or bodily harm. Survivors of sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional neglect, veterans, and others can be exposed to harm that causes PTSD. some common symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, hyper-arousal, distressing thoughts, and emotional reactions. These symptoms need to last at least two weeks to interfere with functioning or cause great stress.
The Brain and PTSD
There are key areas of the brain impacted by PTSD. These include:
- Amygdala: small structure located at the middle of the temporal lobe, which detects threats in the environment and activates ‘fight or flight’ response
- Activates the nervous system to deal with a threat
- Helps store new emotional or threat-related memories
- Prefrontal Cortex: regulate awareness and attention
- Make decisions
- Initiate conscious behavior
- Inhibits dysfunctional reactions
When the brain is under threat, the amygdala formulates a quick response (fight or flight) which involves adrenaline and glucose to rev up the brain and body. If the threat continues, the amygdala communicates with the hypothalamus and pituitary gland to release cortisol. The amygdala reacts too strongly to a potential threat while the medial PFC is impaired enough to regulate the threat response.
How Treatments Help
Psychotherapy can include support for people with PTSD to reduce symptoms and improve their quality of life. Antidepressants may have a similar impact. Mindfulness interventions lasting 10-12 weeks have been shown to decrease the amygdala volume and increase connectivity between the amygdala and PFC. mindfulness seems to make the amygdala less reactive and the PFC more able to calm down the threat response. Some people with PTSD may have difficulty tolerating mindfulness or confronting their trauma. They may need to build rapport with people they trust before they can face distressed feelings. They likely need help with other mental health conditions as well as addiction and behaviors that keep them from feeling successful in recovery.
A Step in the Right Direction provides quality care for clients seeking support for addiction recovery. We support people with PTSD an emotional health issues in addiction recovery. We help you navigate detox, rehab, and aftercare services to help you heal. For more information sober living programs for men and women as well as recovery programs, call (877) 377-3702.