How can Trauma Affect the Human Brain, Emotions and Behavior – PTSD Treatment
Are you experiencing ptsd symptoms?
Trauma can have an impact on your brain, emotions and behaviour.
It’s important to understand the symptoms of trauma so that you can get the support that you need to recover. Speaking to a mental health professional is an integral part of PTSD treatment.
What is trauma?
Trauma is an emotional reaction to a terrible event. Traumatic events typically put the person’s physical or emotional wellbeing at risk, including childhood abuse, war, natural disasters and violence. Trauma can occur after a once off event or from an ongoing situation, such as child abuse or domestic violence. While symptoms of trauma may heal in time, experiencing a terrible event puts you at risk for developing post traumatic stress disorder.
Post traumatic stress disorder is characterized by symptoms which last longer than two weeks and disrupt your daily life. While only a mental health professional can make a diagnosis, it’s helpful to understand common ptsd symptoms. People cope with trauma differently, however, common signs of post traumatic stress disorder include:
- Re-experiencing the event – flashbacks, pain and trembling, emotional flooding, nightmares
- Avoidance – staying away from situations, places or people that remind you of the event
- Hyper-arousal – anxiety, difficulty relaxing, easily startled
- Distressing emotional responses – guilt, shame, irritability, angry outbursts, emotional numbness
How does trauma affect the human brain, emotions and behavior?
The effects of ptsd include dysfunction in two areas of the brain, the amygdala and prefrontal cortex. The amygdala identifies threats in the environment while the prefrontal cortex decides on the most suitable reaction to the situation.
Other functions of the prefrontal cortex include assigning emotional meaning to events and regulating emotions. The effects of PTSD on the brain include a hyper reactive amygdala and an under activated prefrontal cortex. The result is hyperarousal and hypervigilance where the person reacts strongly to any triggers that remind them of the trauma. Disrupted sleep is another symptom of PTSD.
As changes to the prefrontal cortex make it difficult to regulate emotions, people suffering from PTSD can struggle to control their anger and anxiety when they are triggered. Other effects include an increase in impulsive behaviour as well as a diminished ability to attribute positive meaning to situations.. Following a traumatic event, changes to the brain may result in higher levels of fear and an increase in negative emotions.
- Trauma counselling – speaking to a mental health professional may help you to find relief from PTSD symptoms. Counselling sessions offer you a safe space to talk about what happened and how you feel about it.
- Exercise – exercise has a positive impact on your physical and emotional wellbeing. It may help to relieve the stress and anxiety that’s associated with trauma
- Get support – spending time with your friends and family may play a role in easing the effects of PTSD. Sharing your feelings with a supportive and trustworthy friend may also be beneficial. If you don’t have friends or family that you’re comfortable talking to, consider joining a support group.
- Stay healthy – setting up a self-care routine has many advantages as it helps you to regain a sense of control over your life. Try and eat healthy and get enough sleep to give your body and mind the support that it needs to heal.
- Educate yourself – understanding ptsd symptoms may decrease the shame that many trauma survivors experience. Knowledge of the effects of trauma can increase self-compassion and decrease feelings of helplessness. PTSD Treatment is a very effective and important part of the recovery process.