Understanding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)


People who have experienced a traumatic event in their lifetime, often struggle long after the event has taken place. An unfortunate, common mental health issue develops for some of these individuals-it’s called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.
During the traumatic event, the individual undergoes what is a called fight or flight response. The amygdala is an area of the brain that plays a major role in this response. A danger approaches- it can be a hungry, fang toothed tiger, a horrendous car crash about to happen, or even yelling and then a physical fight ensues. All of these can trigger the amygdala, whose job is to best prepare the body for an upcoming threat. If the threat is about to occur, then the amygdala shunts blood to vital organs, like muscles if you need to move. It also heightens hearing and vision. Many people report “tunnel vision” during a traumatic event. An occurrence which allows the individual to focus solely on what is about to happen. When necessary, the amygdala eventually shuts down the frontal lobe, responsible for higher thinking and decision making, and activates the lower brain, or animal brain. The lower brains controls autonomic functions like breathing and telling your heart to beat. It is often said that when this part of the brain is activated during a potentially life threatening event, the individual can have lasting effects, even after the event has come and gone. 

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These lasting effects are what mental health professionals refer to as PTSD. There are currently new treatments out there which have shown great results for people with PTSD. A few of these are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy or DBT. Each therapy deals with retooling how PTSD sufferers think. The “emotional mind” as well as the “wise mind”, are key elements which help people understand how to deal with PTSD symptoms. Both methods are fairly new, but have already helped thousands of people suffering from PTSD.
If you know someone who may suffer from PTSD, there are many groups promoting these therapies and have helped to improve a great many people’s lives.