Welcome to PTSD UPDATE, a new blog dedicated to providing information about PTSD.
WHAT IS Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
1) Stress is a normal reaction to a terrifying situation.
2) PTSD is a prolonged reaction to severe, prolonged, or repetitive stress.
3) Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system, which leads to the release of stress chemicals.
3) Prolonged exposure to stress chemicals can actually injure the brain.
4) But these wounds can heal.
5) PTSD can be both treated and prevented.
PTSD is a diagnosis I have struggled with most of my life. So learning how to treat it was a personal quest. In my books, Saving Superman and Attack from Within, I’ve tried to share secrets that I’ve learned and show that PTSD is not something you need to feel ashamed of or fear.
Stress is a normal reaction to a terrifying situation, but prolonged or repeated stress can lead to PTSD. It is a silent and invisible wound caused by excessive stress chemicals.
Our body reacts to trauma by activating the sympathetic nervous system, our fight or flight response. That system reacts by releasing adrenaline and glucocorticoids. These chemicals help us survive in dangerous situations, but prolonged exposure to them can actually cause damage to both your body and your brain.
The areas of the brain that process memory (hippocampus), speech (Broca’s area), and control emotions (Amygdala and prefrontal cortex) are most frequently involved. In PTSD the hippocampus actually shrinks, making it more difficult to lay down normal memory. The speech area also loses cells. On the other end, the Amygdala, which ignites emotions like rage and terror, grows in size while the prefrontal cortex, which calms the amygdala, shows impaired chemistry.
But like all wounds, the brain can heal, especially if it’s treated early on. I was taught years ago that nerve cells could not regenerate, but science has shown that our brains produce new cells, especially in the hippocampus, the memory center of our brain. So we can heal from PTSD. We now have medications that block the sympathetic nervous system, reduce the toxic chemicals, and can actually prevent PTSD. Other medications, most antidepressants, activate the prefrontal cortex so it can calm the amygdala and reduce your rage and panic.
Bottom line: PTSD is both treatable and preventable, but like all wounds it heals best if it’s treated early on. The longer you wait, the more permanent the scars.
My next post will address: How do you know if you have PTSD???