Trauma on the Brain: PTSD

  It’s natural for a person to feel scared when in danger, but what if flight or fight response stayed? What if the constant fear couldn’t go away? That’s when the anxiety turns into PTSD.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that came to light with military veterans, but it can result from a variety of traumatic incidents that include rape, torture, being held captive, abuse, any type of accident, bombings, or natural disasters.

Right now scientists are focusing on genes that play a role in creating fear memories. Three of those genes are:

  • Stathmin- a protein needed to form fear memories
  • Gastrin-Releasing Peptide (GRP)- a signaling chemical in the brain that is released during emotional events.
  • 5-HTTLPR- a gene that controls levels of serotonin-(Here is my previous post that goes over serotonin.) 

If the trauma is severe, repetitive, or both; the brain gets physically injured.  The best analogy is that the amygdala, the part of the brain that controls emotions, learning, and memory, gets “stuck.” It keeps the brain from operating a balance of fight and flight and calm systems.

My friend, Miss Poet, has PTSD that stems from her experiences with incest. When she was younger, she took a CPR class that she needed for her job, and when she entered the class she saw a man giving CPR to a child dummy. Even though it was a dummy, it brought bad memories and she had a severe panic attack to the point that she went to the hospital.

My friend, Miss Bookworm, was raped when she was in her Masters’ program. She still suffers from PTSD and has difficulty with large groups of people.

 

Here are some ways to help people with PTSD:

  1. Educate yourself about PTSD– The more you know about the effects, medication, and therapies, the more equipped you’ll be.
  2. Don’t pressure the person with PTSD into talking– It can be difficult for someone with PTSD to talk about their experiences, and it could make their symptoms worse.
  3. Accept and expect mixed emotions– Living with someone who has PTSD can be a rollercoaster. It is okay if you have negative emotions, it doesn’t mean you don’t love them.
  4. Be Patient- Getting better takes time.

Here are previous posts for Trauma on the Brain: Part 1, and Part 2.

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