Biology of PTSD Understood

Biology of PTSD Understood

Significant PTSD essentially means significantly altered brain structures and while you therefore can’t cure the anxiety based symptoms of chronic PTSD overall quality of life can be greatly improved through a multiplicity of well researched therapeutic techniques when implemented in psychotherapy with an experienced Psychotherapist. Techniques such as and quite unlimited to:  reframing (reinterpreting the conditioned response to see it differently such as not connected to the trauma), cognitive behavioural therapy or CBT for short which is changing your appraisals of situations so your thoughts and emotions are proportionate to the cause while replacing old distorted habitual thought patterns and there associated false emotional connections), exposure therapy (a seemingly counter-intuitive technique entailing systematically challenging the conditioned fears by not avoiding them and therefore instead systematically learning to cope with the exposed fears in situ thus reducing anxiety and PTSD symptoms), other counter-conditioning techniques (evaluating old ways of falsely predicting outcomes of situations with a Psychotherapist/Counsellor in advance while in psychotherapy and experimenting to see how expectations differ from anticipated reality in and out of the Therapist office). Challenging your autobiography about being an abused person is the central task of trauma psychotherapy efforts that all techniques ought to support as the task while aiming to help you with it by rewriting it. Be cautious of further harm that can come from Trauma Psychotherapy with an untrained Psychotherapist It’s crucial that you embark on this journey with the assistance of an experienced and educated Psychotherapist as re-traumatization is ever possible. A tip to help you to assess if your therapist is adequate enough for this delicate work resides in one main indicator: that if you were to inquire about the approach or just wait to see what occurs in the first few therapy sessions that she/he is careful to not  probe you for details of the traumatic events beyond what you volunteer but rather focuses almost exclusively instead on the net effect that these things have had on you and your ability to cope while simply helping you to cope better. You cope with the obstacles its created and do not attempt to cope with the memory of the experience or events directly more than necessary.

The best way to recover from trauma is to put a concerted effort into understanding the nature of psychological trauma both with your Therapist’s guidance and also with a great deal of self-direction following that. The more of an expert you can become on your condition and there is no shortage of empirical and theoretical evidence illuminating this field to help you to do so, the faster your recovery will be in general including  experiencing the beneficial effects of Psychotherapy on the human body and brain. Most studies comparing Psychotherapy with SSRI, Tricyclic and heterocyclic antidepressants have found the therapeutic interventions outcomes are often superior to the antidepressant/SSRI groups alone when compared.  That’s due to the fact that by understanding all the components of PTSD, starting with an understanding of its origins as a survival based mechanism, one can then become free from its grip. The traumatic reaction following overwhelming events comes from an essentially outdated adaptation to acute stress needed when our brains were primitive and was handed down by evolution. It was an applicable response at the time when we were no more intelligent than any other mammals thus it was acquired at a time when our cerebral cortices were underdeveloped making conditioning more valuable from a survival standpoint. To explain further, now with more intelligence gained through evolution, this antiquated defense mostly just gets in the way since we have evolved to replace instinctive defenses originating in the brain stem with our better higher decisions to protect ourselves. Due to the automaticity of either reaction formation, both mechanisms, the primitive and decisional ones, ironically both mostly just interfere with our ability to relax and enjoy life. Those with a trauma history must deal with the memory of the past in addition to triggering and stressful and threatening event in the present and learn to compartmentalize the effect each has on the whole to respond proportionately and accurately and thus adequately.

The autobiography of the traumatized person must change directly through efforts in therapy

Such understanding sheds light on the nature of the chronic stress related illness that follows the acute stress response following threats to our lives and our egos thus manifesting in the chronic anxiety based mental illness/disease of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. In remedy to this, with enhanced understanding, one can better manage the symptoms of this mental health disorder while enjoying the freedom that comes directly from the raised awareness about the psychological and somatic phenomena that accompany it. Let’s look in detail at why such an education about one’s own mental health condition would be a good foundation for psychotherapy specifically for client’s undertaking trauma psychotherapy:

1. Psycho-education ought to be a part of every Therapist’s protocol for every client of theirs regardless of what client issues Psychotherapists are faced with. Education by Therapists in Psychotherapy sessions helps to normalize the experience for clients and frames the assessment and therapeutic goal setting process for the counsellor and psychotherapy client during psychotherapy sessions:
Both a comprehensive understanding of the anxiety based symptoms that can result from trauma as well as an understanding of the effect of trauma on the body and mind in general would put anyone seeking this help in therapy with a Psychotherapist in good standing. More specifically, one should aim to know a lot about these two broad categories: 1.Symptoms including hyper-vigilance, sense of impending doom, exaggerated startle response, general anxiety or hyper-arousal with foreshortened future and insomnia with a concomitant understanding of 2.why the body and brains of those with significant trauma histories are indeed different than they were before the trauma or when being compared to those fortunate enough to have avoided trauma in their lives altogether.

Those with symptoms of PTSD acquired them directly as a result of the chemical effect of “adrenalin slams” to the brain from one or several terrifying experiences. This causes permanent, biologically driven, species specific rewiring of the neurons as an unfortunate permanent effect of the adrenalin slams to the brain. I have set out here to describe some of the symptoms of PTSD while explaining them in the context of how evolution has dealt too well with ensuring organisms learn to avoid past threats of near annihilation by putting the victim into a constant state of readiness after a danger to ensure a similar danger/event doesn’t recur. By ensuring safety through a sensitive notification system such as this one our liklihood for survival from this or any similar danger is strengthened by the mechanisms tendency to never let danger pass by unnoticed and so it gets by as an iron clad mechanism which becomes easily activated once sensitized by terror thereby replacing peace of mind and greatly depreciating quality of life as every reminder of the original danger brings great fear thus taxing any organism. When our more advanced brains that have developed since we were given this mechanism for protecting ourselves from annihilation is activated a very specific self-protective/survival mechanism that was designed by nature for one reason only-TO PUT THE ORGANISM THAT ALMOST GOT ITSELF KILLED IN A PERMANENT STATE OF FEAR SO IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN WITH SMALL REMINDERS BRINGING ABOUT FULL MEMORIES AND RE-EXPERIENCING OF THE ORIGINAL NEAR LETHAL EVENT AT ALL COSTS NO MATTER WHAT . This leads to the excessive avoidance coping that I’ve seen clients as a Toronto Psychotherapist struggle with.

PTSD is acquired through terror at unexpected events that become generalized

For those without trauma histories this illustration can shed light on how sufferers feel. The reason for this is quite simple: let’s say for example that a dog was sitting beside you. All of a sudden out of the blue it clamped its jaws on the side of your face. There are many variables here that would determine the level of Adrenalin your body would release and it’s the speed and quantity of that release that in the end determines your traumatic reaction and largely your post traumatic response as much as it is about the appraisal of the situation itself and the level of control you feel you have over it as a result with secondary adrenalin release (Id have more adrenalin if I were a model and if I told myself id be disfigured permanently or even die than if I were a dog trainer without a need for facial perfection and resiliency around dogs etc.) This may be the best way to explain to someone who has not experienced trauma how easily once hurt you can generalize fears associated with the trauma. Ask someone: if this happened to you would you sit near anyone’s pet dog again and what about other animals? the extremely avoidant behaviours that someone with PTSD can have to any reminders even if general reminders of the event or the events If this happened. If this happened to most people they would likely not get close to another dog again? It’s easy with this illustration for the unscathed to imagine a generalized fear of all animals developing. Now imagine a human being attacked you in this way too.  Then imagine if it happened many times and with many people and when you were little too and to make matters even worse if its possible by your own parent(s) who are instead also  supposed to make sure this does not happen to you meanwhile they are the perpetrators and repeatedly so. Generalizing the fear to similar instances through powerful conditioning is nature’s way of making sure what almost killed someone or something from ever getting the chance again. By making the organism constantly on guard through conditioning  scanning the environment for danger, being alert at night by interfering with sleep causing insomnia the chances are much lower that a repeat incident would happen. Nature made sure we have the biological ingredients to develop massive fear based conditioning rapidly and permanently to ensure death does not happen the next time we are almost killed. mostly with the addition of other variables such as your beliefs about how threatening it was, prior attacks by dogs of even people.

2. The most damaging part of a traumatic experience lies in the fact that it’s unlike any other experience such that it makes less sense or no sense and isn’t at all absorbable into your everyday experiences, it’s both unusual and often unexpected and it’s very hard to examine since it can in addition to being confounding make the symptoms of PTSD worse to dwell on the event that caused them leading to a great tendency to avoid it and any reminders of it too. Therefore in psychotherapy for traumatic stress I use psycho-educational tools to help my clients to understand the net effect of their traumatic experiences on their functioning while trying to leave the details of the actual traumatic event(s) in the background for fear of re-traumatization. The effects of the traumatic event must be understood within some context in order to start addressing the effects it’s had. Through ascribing meanings and ideas to the event and its effect the ideas can each be seen as invisible skewers in the form of conceits and ideas that become interventions in therapy that serve to essentially pin and hold the event in place so it can eventually be comprehended and essentially apprehended by the victim so symptoms can’t apprehend them any longer.

PTSD Toronto Psycho-education Best Practices in Psychotherapy

3. Psychoeducation is especially vital for those recovering from developmental traumas because these traumas and their effects are by their nature harder to see and therefore require more work to change. They always require changes to be made primarily to the person’s whole frame of reference so the counselling-educational framework can serve a function of providing much needed reference points to do the work. Frame of reference may find themselves as adults constantly in the service of others, overly accommodating, perfectionistic, people pleasing and neglectful of their own needs with great difficulty feeling entitled mostly because as children they were in service to someone who mistakenly was leaving no room to be and indeed with an expectation unspoken to never be) and asking for help. They are driven by the conditioned and thus automatic fear that they will unwittingly cause conflict or disappoint someone if they so much as refrain from their usual conscientiousness and drop their guard for an even a second. In fact, many can’t even see they have rights or entitlements to start since throughout childhood many didn’t and so still take their autonomy for granted when there rights are right there! In psychotherapy sessions it’s easy to feel like these childhood deprivations no longer exist and to go into a sort of denial which means one needs to be ever mindful and change the general way they see things with reminders built in to encourage the direction and frequency is met adequately to allow change and psychoeducation about PTSD offers this structure. Those with this type of trauma acquired the PTSD while their brains were developing, they were learning and usually as the result of abuse incurred by a primary caregiver so attachment based issues come to play here. The psychoeducational meta framework that a Psychotherapist offers PTSD trauma survivors in psychotherapy settings is key to unraveling and disempowering the

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