PTSD + Super Storm Sandy = Mental Work

If you have a working television then you likely know about Sandy and the devastation the tragic super storm left behind. You are also likely aware of the power shortages millions of people across the northeast are currently experiencing, and you’ve probably seen pictures of houses turned to rubble as streets are left decimated by the storm.

Sandy was bigger than anything anyone has ever imagined and there are many who lost everything, including loved ones. They will embark upon a long and arduous path to recovery. Both physical and mental recovery are necessary because in addition to all of damage and carnage, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has already begun to and will affect many more people as a result of the storm.

The psychological experience of trauma can actually cause neuro-biological changes. Researchers at the University of Minnesota and the Minneapolis VA Medical Center have discovered that those who suffer from PTSD exhibit a distinct pattern of brain activity. They did this using a brain imaging technique called magnetoencephalography (MEG), which measures how the brain processes information via electric activity.

Yet, despite the fact that we are able to see the physical traces of PTSD, it remains a complex disease further complicated by new causes and symptoms. Depression and anxiety tend to manifest in highly personalized forms, therefore, it’s important to seek professional medical help if you, or anyone you know, experiences any of the following:

– You can’t find the words to express your thoughts. The prefrontal cortex, responsible for some aspects of language, is altered by emotionally traumatic events.

– You can’t regulate your emotions. The amygdala, crucial for emotional regulation, may actually enlarge in size and fail to function properly, causing you to experience emotional dysfunction.

– You are having problems with short-term memory loss. The hippocampus, which is important for some forms of memory, can actually reduce in size in some PTSD patients.

– You feel an unreasonable amount of fear and anxiety. The functionality of your medial prefrontal cortex, which is involved in regulating emotions through interactions with the amygdala, is changed by trauma.

Post-traumatic stress disorder should not be taken lightly. There will be those who will think that they’ll simply “get over it”. There is a biological basis underlying PTSD. Therefore, those afflicted will have to regain control over their symptoms with the help of professional treatment. Remarkable feats of cerebral recovery can occur due to neuroplasticity, the question is – will you help it do so by seeking help? –Liz Belilovskaya

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