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Brain Chemistry of a Person with PTSD

The Brain Chemistry of a Person Affected with PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (or PTSD, as it is commonly known) is a mental health disorder that affects how the brain works in relation to stress and trauma. When going through something traumatic, or having witnessed or experienced something a traumatic event, it is normal to suffer from post-traumatic stress. However, the difference between this and PTSD is the length of time it lasts. In most cases, the stress stemming from the trauma will dissipate after a relatively short time. PTSD is a permanent issue, and it affects how the brain functions.

Fight or flight

The brain is an amazing organ. It is the body’s alarm system, and when there is something wrong, something potentially hazardous or dangerous, the brain can send out signals to the body to help to protect it where possible. It is the amygdala within the brain that is responsible for receiving these signals and interpreting them, and it sends out a ‘fight or flight’ mode into the body to ensure that you are ready to either run from danger or attack it.

The problem with PTSD is that although these signals are sent to the amygdala and the body is put into readiness mode, the signals never actually stop. After the danger has passed in most cases, the fight or flight mode will ‘shut down,’ and you can go back to normal. If you are suffering from PTSD and this does not happen, you will never be able to relax, you will always be fearful, and you will often overreact to the smallest of details in your life. In effect, it becomes difficult to differentiate between what happened in the past and the events that are happening to you now, even if you are now entirely safe.

Effects of PTSD

Studies using a scientific method called neuroimaging have shown that PTSD actually changes the biological makeup of the brain – your brain chemistry shifts so that more norepinephrine (a chemical similar to adrenalin) is produced. In areas other than the brain, norepinephrine increases blood pressure and heart rate, causes glucose to be released from your energy stores, inhibits the bladder voiding, increases blood flow to the muscles, and reduces blood flow to the stomach. Added together, this means that your body is, as mentioned above, put on alert mode – you will be ready to run, and you won’t have to be delayed by digestive functions such as vomiting or relieving the bowels or bladder.

Of course, over a long period of time, too much norepinephrine will cause damage to the body – muscles are not meant to be stressed for too long, and it is important for the gastrointestinal tract to work properly, too.

In order for the symptoms of PTSD to be reduced, brain chemicals must be taken into account. It is important for the brain to no longer perceive any risks and allows the body to go into a more relaxed state. This can be done with the help of medication, therapy, or even a procedure called the stellate ganglion block (SGB). 

SGB Injection to Treat PTSD

The SGB injection treatment is a new option for those who are desperate to gain control over their lives again due to PTSD. The SGB injection for PTSD is a local anesthetic that is injected into the right side of the neck, where a group of nerve fibers are located. These nerve fibers, known as the stellate ganglion, are responsible for regulating the sympathetic nervous system. The SGB works by numbing these nerve fibers, which further help to kick the sympathetic nervous system out of “overdrive” and regulate it back to neutrality.

Many people with PTSD often refer to this treatment option as a PTSD injection cure, although it should not be considered a cure to PTSD. This PTSD injection treatment however, can help to reduce or even eliminate the debilitating PTSD symptoms. If you want to learn more about the SGB for PTSD and want to find out if it is a good option for you, give us a call today.

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