google-site-verification: googleae9556121f128741.html Healing Meditations: PTSD: What came first? Chicken or the Egg?

Thursday, December 31, 2009

PTSD: What came first? Chicken or the Egg?

Recently, a former student sent me an article on PTSD. You can read the article in its entirety on this blog. The article states that soldiers with PTSD having different biochemistry than those soldiers who did not suffer from PTSD. Specifically, soldiers experiencing PTSD have lower levels of neurosteroids.

This brings us to age old questions of what comes first......brain chemical imbalance or PTSD? Chicken or the egg?
We are constantly interacting with out environment and our biochemistry. In fact every thought we think, anything we eat, or any experience we have changes our bio chemistry to some degree. It makes sense to me that combat would change bio chemistry.

It also makes sense that some of these soldiers with lower levels of neurosteroids could have been that way before entering combat and this brain chemical imbalance made them more vulnerable to stress and therefore PTSD. After all, not all soldiers experience PTSD and that may not be dependent upon external events.

Unfortunately, we can't know the answer to this question because the soldier's brain chemistry levels are only measured AFTER they have PTSD. So did the combat cause the brain chemical imbalance or did the brain chemical imbalance make them more vulnerable to PTSD? It would be interesting to measure the brain chemistry of a group of soldiers before, during and after combat. And note who experienced PTSD and who did not.

I also wonder if every soldier with lowered neurosteroids has the subjective experience of PTSD? I would bet money they do not. In my private practice, I have seen people with very grave physical issues easily identified on x rays and MRI who are experiencing little or no pain. I also see clients who experience alot of pain and who look fine on an MRI or x ray.
Many doctors would say those with a clean xray and lots of pain are just a "head cases." But then, are those people who have easily identified physical issues but little or no pain"head cases" too? And if so, what in the world are they doing in their heads? Could those with little or no pain somehow come to terms or found meaning in their physical issues? I don't know but I think we can learn alot from studying those who don't get sick and stay well and happy in adverse circumstances.

The article concludes that reservists experience more PTSD then "full time soldiers" and that "military discipline" is a factor in not getting PTSD. I would argue that this isn't valid statement because those who would choose to be full time soldiers rather than in the reserves would probably have a more robust nervous system naturally and are more comfortable with the experiences being in the military and probably more committed to it.

I think one of the greatest things that protects our nervous system and psyches is finding meaning in our experience. No matter how terrible an experience is, if we find meaning in it, we can withstand it. The meaning that really satisfies us comes from within. Hypnotherapy can help us find meaning in any and all of our experiences that is not spoon fed to us by society and ideological doctrine of any kind. Additionally, it is my opinion that hypnotherapy can lower overall physiological arousal levels operating below conscious awareness and in this way balance brain chemistry. As we heal we break the cycle of trauma and help others around to balance and find peace as well.

Would love to hear more info. about PTSD antidotal as well as objective.
Best,
Sue Schmidt C.Ht