Post Traumatic Stress

Post Traumatic Stress occurs during an intensity of stress, overwhelming the body’s natural capacity to manage. The resulting charged survival response gets stuck.

Post Traumatic Stress

When we have post traumatic stress, the stress stays locked inside, along with the dissociated associations of the event; sounds, smell, feelings, sensations, movements. Post traumatic stress is the mental health label from the diagnostic manual of psychiatric conditions, I do not see it as a mental disorder—though we may feel like we are going crazy at times. PTSD is a physiological response to extreme stress, usually of a life or death nature, in which impulses in the body, to respond to the event are overwhelmed and so stay gripped inside, taxing the system. It feels like the event is still happening, and to the body it is, wearing down the stress managing functions of the body through an over-secretion of threat-based brain chemicals. The accumulative stress is often the source of angry outbursts, domestic abuse, sexualized violence, and volatility in couples. Somatic Therapy is an excellent therapy for anger management, as it get’s to the root of the survival stress interfering with emotional and physical control.

Some events that may create post traumatic stress disorder are; car accidents, difficult surgeries, rape, domestic violence, physical assault, natural disasters, childhood abuse, neglect, accidents, and war. Because to the body the event is still happening associations to the original traumatic event will trigger flashbacks, and ignite stress activation in the body. Flashbacks, such as loud noises, images on the television, certain times of the day, certain faces, words, or foods, may trigger the emotional pain and physical startle responses. Flashbacks are one of the most common symptoms of PTSD.

The triggers of traumatic stress bring the event back into focus, along with all the overwhelming sensations. This cycle of PTSD, overwhelming sensations that trigger a dissociative state, is a difficult one to heal. But there is hope. To heal from post traumatic stress disorder requires a support system that knows how to handle trauma. The primary aspect of healing will be to allow small amounts of the associated elements of the trauma to be experienced, in a safe, and controlled pace, so as to go into overwhelm, but instead to resolve the internal impulses and survival energy.

Post traumatic stress puts an incredible amount of pressure on the organismic functions of the body, interfering with even the most simplest aspects of managing daily stress. People afflicted with PTSD have internal somatic triggers which drive and repeat internal arousal cycles from the original traumatic experience. Trauma associated triggers, sometimes called flashbacks, may be of a visual, auditory, or somatic aspect. Not everyone stumbling into a traumatic event will develop PTSD, or the resulting flashbacks. Rothschild explores this important question in her article, ‘Identification and Diagnosis’.

“…post traumatic stress disorder develops when fight or flight is not possible; the threat persists over a long period of time; and/or the threat is so extreme that the instinctive response of the victim is to freeze. Studies vary, but confirm that only a fraction of those facing trauma will develop PTSD. What distinguishes those who do not is still a hot topic of discussion, but there are many clues. Factors mediating traumatic stress appear to include: preparation for expected stress (when possible), successful fight or flight responses, prior experience, internal resources, support from family, community, and social networks, debriefing, emotional release, and psychotherapy…” – Peter Levine

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