PTSD, the Brain, and Pain

A single traumatic experience can set off many different levels of pain, whether emotional or physical, acute or chronic. But can PTSD affect how the brain processes pain? Marla Mickleborough, MA, of the University of British Columbia and Judith Daniels, PhD, of the University of Western Ontario, wanted to find out whether the brain might actually mitigate pain in the presence of trauma. They gathered an experimental group of patients with PTSD and a control group of people who had experienced trauma but had never developed PTSD. Researchers placed the subjects in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner while…

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Resistance to PTSD: Could It Be in Your DNA?

Not everyone who experiences trauma develops PTSD. So what might be boosting the resilience of the folks who experience trauma and don’t suffer from PTSD? According to Israel Liberzon, MD, of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, genetic factors might play a role. When combined with trauma in early childhood, a tiny DNA change (or a mutation), called a single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), in a gene called ADRB2 could help predict whether or not a person will be more resilient (or more susceptible) to PTSD later in life. Inside of our cells, ADRB2 plays a role in how adrenaline affects our…

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Three Ways Trauma Can Change the Brain

The treatment of trauma can be some of the most complex work practitioners face. And for years, this challenge was complicated by not having a clear picture of the impact that trauma has on the brain. But scientific advances within just the past few years have opened the eyes of practitioners to what actually happens in the brain of someone who has experienced trauma. And according to Bessel van der Kolk, MD, there are three major ways that the brain changes in response to trauma. To find out what they are (and their impact on the body), take a look…

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PTSD, the Hippocampus, and the Amygdala – How Trauma Changes the Brain

Emotional neurocircuitry . . . . . . it’s how the brain is wired for emotions. But in the brain of a person with PTSD, emotional distress could physically (and perhaps even visibly) change the neurocircuitry. In a normal brain, the interaction between the hippocampus and the amygdala is important for processing emotional memory. It’s suspected that they both change in response to experience as well. But when someone experiences trauma, do these parts of the brain change together, or are they completely independent of one another? In a recent study led by Quan Zhang, MD at China’s Tianjin Medical…

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Healing a Traumatized Brain with Neurofeedback

Pioneers in the field of brain science and the treatment of trauma are continually researching new ways to help treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) . . . . . . and it looks like they’ve found something that works with the plasticity of the brain to help people gain control over a restless mind. R.C. Kluetsch, MSc and a team of researchers wanted to find out if neurofeedback training can change the plasticity of brain networks linked to PTSD. The research team investigated whether a single session of electroencephalographic (EEG) neurofeedback training would affect the state of anxiety and arousal…

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One Powerful Trauma Intervention for Working with a “Fear-Driven” Brain

When we treat patients who have experienced trauma, we’re often working with a brain that’s driven by fear. So for practitioners, it can be essential to know just what part of the brain to focus in on, and more importantly, what you can do once you know where to look. According to Sebern Fisher, MA, there’s one powerful intervention that can help . . . . . . and it can be a resource for patients who are trying to calm a frightened brain after trauma. Check out the video clip (below) for more – it’s just 3 minutes. Click…

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