What is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)  is a mental health condition characterized by failure to recover from a traumatic experience after a significant period of time.

It’s okay to feel sad or shaken when facing a traumatic moment. The brain naturally reacts that way. However, it becomes a problem when that state becomes a default for weeks or months after the traumatic incident. 

Many people who live with PTSD do not even realize that they have it because the onset of PTSD may be months or years after the trauma or after a quiescent period of time. 

Causes of PTSD

PTSD are caused by a number of emotional and physical factors, all of which relate to how the brain is affected during traumatic events:

  1. Trauma: When the body is faced with a terrifying or traumatic event or when a person hears of a traumatic experience, the body mounts a response involving the brain. This reaction is the flight-or-fight response caused by the hormones cortisol and adrenaline. When the experience is heightened, the body may remain in that state for a more extended period of time, which causes PTSD.
  2. A persistent flight-or-fight reaction: This happens when the body has an unusual increase in response to trauma. This may be because of various reasons, such as a hormonal imbalance or a falsely exaggerated perception of an experience.
  3. Heightened fear and emotion: People react differently to similar situations. In the same way, a person can have an increased emotional response to perceived danger while someone else doesn’t.
  4. Stressors: These stressors could be external or internal, affecting the brain and leading to hyper responses. 
  5. Other coexisting mental or physical conditions: When a person already has existing mental disorders, it affects their reaction to future trauma. 

Symptoms of PTSD

The symptoms of PTSD are related to five classes, which are based on their affectation of the individual:

  1. A constant re-experience of trauma: This happens when an individual gets flashbacks, nightmares, or hallucinations of the experience. 
  2. Keeping away from similar and related events: This is called the avoidance syndrome. The person tries to avoid stimuli that remind them of the traumatic event. 
  3. Impaired cognitive function: The traumatic experience may affect their learning and memory. Some individuals forget details of the experience and get panic attacks when they are reminded of them. They can also avoid family and friends and experience impaired thought processes such as thought broadcasting, thought withdrawal, or thought insertion. 
  4. Hyperarousal: There is a heightened reaction to things. The person can scream or jerk at even the slightest touch or sound. They can also get highly emotional and cry over trivial things. 
  5. Physical effects: PTSD may present as physical pain or sweating. The person may get headaches and panic attacks.

Medication to Treat PTSD

Even though many people live with PTSD, it is essential to seek medical help for this condition, whether for yourself or a loved one. 

Why should you seek treatment for PTSD?

  1. PTSD can lead to more severe complications such as schizophrenia, delusions, substance abuse, and even secondary depression. 
  2. It can affect metabolic function, especially as it affects sleep, mood, and balance. There may be excessive sweating and impaired digestion and appetite.
  3. PTSD can cause a strain in relationships and even hamper a person’s general outlook on life. They may have suicidal thoughts and ideation. 
  4. It may impair work culture, especially if the traumatic experience happened in the workplace.
  5. It may affect future reactions to events and things. Even though there is always trauma lurking as we grow up, learning to cope with it makes us more adaptable for the future.

How does Medication to Treat PTSD work? 

PTSD treatment aims at achieving psychological, cognitive, and neurological therapy and helps improve memory and learning abilities. 

This means that the individual is geared at helping the individual better handle symptoms, perceive stimuli, and life in general. They also learn to treat the complications and cope with the symptoms even if they haven’t attained complete remission. 

The treatment also affects the brain’s function, repairs its state, and works on the amygdala, the part of the brain that regulates fear and emotion. PTSD affects the amygdala. 

What are the best practices for Trauma Treatment? Trauma Therapy Techniques

Medication to Treat PTSD: The best practices are geared at complete remission for the individual. However, in many cases, this goal is not achieved. There is no therapy technique that works best for everyone. Different individuals have different responses to trauma therapies. Hence, you have to choose the best one for you or your loved one.

However, research and various surveys have revealed the best ways to handle trauma in adults. These therapies work on the brain’s pathways and improve communications across brain cells.

They include but are not limited to psychotherapy, use of medications, and neurological therapy (craniosacral therapy).

Evidence-based Trauma Treatment for Adults

Psychological therapy: It is also known as talk therapy. It involves a therapist helping individuals process their trauma differently and cope with the symptoms they have. 

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy: Here, the individual is made to learn better ways of coping with their trauma. They learn to identify those harmful thoughts and face them instead of avoiding them.
  • Cognitive processing therapy: The person is made to understand their trauma as less negative. This can be done by re-education and can involve exposure-based therapy. 
  • Exposure-based therapy: This is geared at dealing with avoidance symptoms. It exposes the individual to a virtual reality of the same traumatic experience to achieve a kind of desensitization to the effect of the trauma. 
  • Group therapy: Here, individuals with PTSD can talk about their experience with other people who have undergone similar traumatic experiences.

Neurological Therapy

  • Craniosacral therapy: This is for internal healing. It relaxes the connective tissues in the central nervous system, that is, both the brain and the spinal cord. This relaxation reduces the stress accumulated from physical and emotional trauma. 
  • Dialectical therapy: The individual identifies their triggers and figure out ways to cope with them. They acquire new skills and drop maladaptive behavior to achieve a healthy state of mind.
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing: This involves brains potting. It is based on the principle that an individual’s eye movement can reflect their mood and brain function.

Ketamine: a Treatment for PTSD

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs approved ketamine as a treatment for their veterans, who underwent the trauma of war and experienced PTSD as a result.

The success rate of a low-dose infusion of ketamine for PTSD is 80%. The onset happens in minutes, while the duration of action is a much longer period of time.

Ketamine acts as an antagonist of the NMDA receptor of the brain. When activated, the NMDA receptor increases the formation of intrusive memories and experiences such as flashbacks, nightmares, and hallucinations.

Also, ketamine acts as an anxiolytic to relieve anxiety symptoms associated with PTSD. It decreases the brain’s level of stress response and reduces depression as a complication of PTSD. When the anxiety, hyperarousal, and sleep disturbances are taken away from PTSD, it is then easier to handle using psychotherapy.

The brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a protein that maintains, matures, and improves the state of neurons in the brain. This protein is released in the hippocampus and amygdala, which are the areas of the brain most affected by PTSD. This factor is increased by ketamine, which affects the amygdala and improves its functionality.

For people who have had failed treatment using evidence-based trauma therapy or incomplete remission from PTSD, ketamine has been shown to be effective.

PTSD can be properly treated with the supportive effort of both family, friends, and healthcare. If you or a loved one has PTSD, don’t try to self-medicate, which can often worsen symptoms. You have to access yourself, understand your symptoms, and decide the best treatment for you. At Thrive Wellness, we help you with the process of completely treating PTSD by using ketamine. If you’re looking for a place to get the best PTSD treatment in Nashville, we can help. There is hope.