We’ve all heard of it, the general populace seems to think it involves one being ill mentally, often times snapping at the ones they love. Even lashing out and getting physical, many see individuals with PTSD as ticking time bombs.
Have you ever gotten down to the basis of it to see what this truly entails? the definition of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is as follows ——–> A mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event. The keyword in P.T.S.D. though is POST, meaning past tense, an action or situation that happened in past time. So with that being said, why does something that happened in the past stick around and enables us to feel a certain way, evoking such emotion that causes one to commit suicide.
**PTSD Is Very Common**
About 3.6% of adult Americans, which is about 5.2 million people suffer from PTSD. During the course of a year, an estimated 7.8 million Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives.
** Symptoms include **
Mood: Anger, general discontent, guilt, hopelessness, inability to feel pleasure, loneliness, loss of interest, nervousness, panic attack, or emotional distress.
Behavioral: Aggression, agitation, hostility, hyper-vigilance, irritability, screaming, self-destructive behavior, self-harm, or social isolation.
Psychological: Depression, fear, flashback, hallucination, severe anxiety, or mistrust.
The most significant neurological impact of trauma is seen in the hippocampus. PTSD patients show a considerable reduction in the volume of the hippocampus. This region of the brain is responsible for memory functions. It helps an individual to record new memories and retrieve them later in response to specific and relevant environmental stimuli. The hippocampus also helps us distinguish between past and present memories.
PTSD patients with reduced hippocampal volumes lose the ability to discriminate between past and present experiences or interpret environmental contexts correctly. Their particular neural mechanisms trigger extreme stress responses when confronted with environmental situations that only remotely resemble something from their traumatic past. This is why a sexual assault victim is terrified of parking lots because she was once raped in a similar place. A war veteran still cannot watch violent movies because they remind him of his trench days; his hippocampus cannot minimize the interference of past memories.
** Prefrontal Cortex
The prefrontal cortex region in the brain is responsible for regulating emotional responses triggered by the amygdala. Specifically, this region regulates negative emotions like fear that occur when confronted with specific stimuli. PTSD patients show a marked decrease in the volume of ventromedial prefrontal cortex and the functional ability of this region. This explains why people suffering from PTSD tend to exhibit fear, anxiety, and extreme stress responses even when faced with stimuli not connected – or only remotely connected – to their experiences from the past.
The Amygdala region of the brain helps us process emotions and is also linked to fear responses. PTSD patients exhibit hyperactivity in the amygdala in response to stimuli that are somehow connected to their traumatic experiences. They exhibit anxiety, panic, and extreme stress when they are shown photographs or presented with narratives of trauma victims whose experiences match theirs; or made to listen to sounds or words related to their traumatic encounters.