PTSD

What is it? PTSD (sometimes also written Posttraumatic stress disorder), is an anxiety disorder. It can develop when people are severely harmed, or experience something extremely upsetting.

PTSD is different from traumatic stress, which is less intense and shorter, and combat stress reaction, which happens to soldiers in wartime situations and usually goes away. PTSD has been recognized in the past by different names, like shell shocktraumatic war neurosis, or post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSS).

Throughout history people have been affected by PTSD, for various reasons, but there are ways to combat/help you. Using some ideas from a book called “Brain Lock,” by Dr Jeffery Schwartz, I have adjusted the thoughts and ideas used in the book to help you deal with your PTSD and its intruding effects on you.

These intrusive thoughts are the memories of your trauma, when a familiar smell, sound, or place can send you into a flash back of the event that appears real. The exercises written below will take time, but I believe they can and will help.

Relabel – Train yourself to identify what is real and what is not and refuse to allow yourself to be misled, by any intrusive thoughts or urges.

Re-attribute – You understand that those thoughts and urges are just mental noise, or false signals, being sent to your brain.

Refocus – Learn to respond to those false signals and urges in a new and more constructive way; working around the false signals by refocusing your attention in a more constructive behavior the best you can at that moment.

Revalue – You have now learned a significant lesson, the desire to act on unwanted thoughts and urges will now have little or no value, and, as a result the obsessions and compulsions will have less impact on you. As you do, and this is the hardest part, you will begin to change the way your brain works, by changing your brains chemistry.

You may be asking “Why do these images and thoughts keep bothering me? Why won’t they go away?”  Your answer is because the amygdala and the mid-anterior cingulate cortex become over-stimulated. the amygdala controls some mating functions; the assessment of threat-related stimuli (basically what in the environment is considered a danger); the formation and storage of emotional memories; fear conditioning; and memory consolidation.

The primary function of the mid-anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is to monitor conflict. The ACC also plays a role in emotional awareness (particularly empathy); registering physical pain, and regulating autonomic functions like heart rate and blood pressure.

The hippocampus helps regulate smell, spatial coding, and memory. More specifically the hippocampus helps store long-term memories, basically helping to decide what goes from being a short-term memory to what becomes a long-term memory. This process of turning a short-term memory into a long-term memory is what is referred to as memory consolidation. Damage to the hippocampus can also release excess cortisol (a stress hormone).

In order to begin to gain control over your PTSD, you will need to adapt and keep telling yourself, “This isn’t me. Something it is triggering me.”

If you do not already know your triggers, it’s very important that you figure them out. Each time something triggers a PTSD event, write it down. Was it a smell? A picture? A place?

Write down everything taking place at the time of your trigger event, even if the event is different but things in the event are similar or the same, what triggered your PTSD?

Some helps for PTSD are to have something familiar around you. For example, it could be a picture or something you can grab onto in your pocket. You also can look around the room for something that is familiar. This is called grounding.

If you have night terrors – I strongly suggest a digital album with pictures of things that make you smile, laugh, bring good thoughts or memories. It will help you to have less terror time, and ground you.

If you have questions please feel free to write me at chaplain.mark@breakingthelinks.com

References: Brain lock by Dr. Jeffery Schwartz; verywell mind.com;

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