Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is the manifestation of emotional dysfunctions after exposure to severe trauma. It can eventuate from a single traumatic event or from a lifelong cascade of such incidents. The resulting anguish is a major contributor to the prevalence of substance use disorders.
PTSD stems primarily from involuntary mental responses to trauma. Anguish and anger are a natural “reflex” when we experience trauma. It is usually manageable and subsides after a reasonable period of time, but when it is abnormally severe or becomes permanent, it indicates the presence of PTSD. One reason for the onset of PTSD, is the brain’s ability to autonomously release stress hormones in reaction to a threat.
The spontaneous release of stress hormones is aimed at securing our survival and protecting us. As small children, these hormones stimulate us to cry when we need care and nurturing. Later in life, when we sense danger, stress hormones provide extra levels of energy, tension and awareness, thus improving our ability to defend ourselves or to escape from harm. Normally this self-preservation process benefits us, but it becomes flawed when the brain erroneously perceives random thoughts and memories as signs of immediate danger.
Although anguish is a common response to the normal traumas we encounter in life, we usually calm down after a while and in time memories of the events fade. However, when trauma is extreme, prolonged or repeated, a state of permanent anguish can settle in if we are not able to identify and manage the effects of our natural hormone secretions. The incessant supply of stress hormones like adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine can then hold us in a perpetual state of tension.
The brain also releases reward hormones when we experience physical or mental pain. They create feelings of contentment that makes the pain more bearable. Unfortunately, the effects of our reward hormones are obscured by the impact of the stress hormones. As such, the soothing effects of reward hormones like dopamine, serotonin and endorphins diminish.
The brain’s natural remedy to suppress pain with reward hormones becomes insignificant in children who grow up in dysfunctional family environments. As children, they lack experience and their caretakers are usually ineffectual role models. As such, they remain ignorant of their natural hormonal stimuli and devise artificial coping strategies to serve their emotional needs. As adults they continue to apply artificial incitement by turning to drugs and alcohol.
Adults who originally had the ability to cope with anguish, but are exposed to extreme shock, long term or repetitive traumatic incidents, are often numbed by the experience. They lose their original capacity to overcome anguish when they are subjected to rampant streams of stress-hormones and the mellowing effects of reward hormones diminish concurrently.
PTSD and the additionally elevated anxiety levels brought on by the effects of excessively high volumes of stress hormones, is an extremely unpleasant condition to live with. It is also a very complex disorder to heal. Medication can be used to suppress some of the symptoms, but sufferers usually strive for a solution that will not only suppress the distress, but will also contribute or add a significant feeling of pleasure.
To suppress the ongoing anguish and to increase their feelings of contentment, PTSD sufferers often turn to alcohol or drugs as convenient and quick solutions in their desperation to restore an overall feeling of wellbeing. However, the combination of PTSD and substance abuse leads to imbalances and malfunctions in the brain’s neurotransmitters, resulting in a further distortion of their normal survival routines.
Trauma and substance abuse can independently and respectively dismantle existing brain circuits and create strong alternative nerve channels. These unnatural modifications weaken the functioning of an affected person’s natural pain and pleasure centres and they become dependent on the artificial solutions that they create for themselves. This establishes a ceaseless craving for the addictive substance to satisfy their needs.
Our brains and the various neurochemicals activated by it, are our internal pain and pleasure mechanisms. While these natural mechanisms may seem ineffectual, both PTSD and substance abuse are primarily instigated by other emotional disorders that we acquire after birth. Once these disorders have been removed and you have mastered the ability to manage your internal pain and pleasure mechanisms, you can benefit significantly from your normal hormonal functions.
PTSD (and the related CPTSD) is a complicated condition which requires the latest, highly specialised treatment techniques. While prescribed medication is a popular quick-fix to suppress symptoms, and may even be required in some cases, it does not heal the affliction. Modern therapeutic methods offer a more complete and lasting solution.
Please Note : Self-analysis and recuperation approaches based upon info extracted from the internet and arbitrary resources can be deceptive. Should you think you might be suffering from stress-related trauma, always consult with a certified psychoanalyst for personal insights applicable to your circumstances.