PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress is a condition whereby an individual has experienced a traumatic event and has repeated flashbacks and heightened anxiety after the event.

PTSD occurs when someone experiences a frightening or shocking event and cannot process the magnitude of what has happened. In effect the brain becomes confused - it is uncertain as to whether the event is occurring again and the individual reacts as though the event is being repeated.

Although this does not sound logical - it effects many people - and there is some evidence that PTSD is worse in individuals who come from and insecure background and are less resilient than others when in distress.

The reason that individuals seem to think they are in imminent danger - is due to complex brain processes that inform the brain that there is imminent danger.

For example an individual who has been injured or experienced a loss through fire - may over react to the smell sound or vision of a bonfire, fireworks or barbecue.

This is not because he thinks that the fire is dangerous but his senses may him react in a way that he is now in the same danger as he was previously .

This happens as our five senses help us to keep safe and warn us when there is danger. They immediately release hormones to help us to run or fight if they the we are vulnerable to danger.

Picture five senses


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The senses send a message to the thalamus in the centre of the brain.

The thalamus is part of the limbic brain part of its function is to relay sensory messages to the amygdala. The thalamus has a mega connection to the amygdala ( think of it as high speed wi-fi) which instantly sends a message to the hypothalamus which secretes hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol which increases heart rate and blood pressure to instigate that quick escape from danger. When the body and brain senses the adrenaline and cortisol released into the body - the brain is further convinced that there is imminent danger .


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However the thalamus also sends a more rational message via the hippocampus and anterior cingulate to the prefrontal cortex, the speed differs to the high speed to the amygdala .- this is a much slower system and therefore gets the message later than the amygdala ( compare it to - writing a considered text message).

But the amygdala may now be in full flow protecting you from danger - whilst the prefrontal cortex is weighing up the odds and using rational thought to make a more refined interpretation of what is going on.

The rational prefrontal cortex asses the danger to see whether there is a danger or whether you are safe - the amygdala assumes the worse and jumps into action.


The amygdala is triggered quickly in people who are suffering from PTSD who assume there is danger and the rational brain is less recognised. The intensity of fear, sadness or anger over powers the rational brain and reinstates the trauma and triggers panic, rage or distress.

Engaging with the prefrontal cortex to slow down your reactions can help with stress and trauma. Activities and grounding techniques can help to minimise the distress - such as painting, colouring, Knitting, suduku, jigsaws, beading, yoga, mindfulness practices such as regulating the breath can all help to slow down the process and manage the trauma.

Find a comfortable spot - lie down if you can and try this breathing exercise -
In for a count of 4 and Out for a count of 4
In for a count of 4 and Out for a count of 5
In for a count of 4 and Out for a count of 6
In for a count of 4 and Out for a count of 7
In for a count of 4 and Out for a count of 8
and then reverse the order
In for a count of 4 and Out for a count of 8
In for a count of 4 and Out for a count of 7
In for a count of 4 and Out for a count of 6
In for a count of 4 and Out for a count of 5
In for a count of 4 and Out for a count of 4

How do you feel?? This should make you feel more relaxed.

Yoga


An effective technique to help calming the mind and body is yoga. A restorative yoga class can help you to disconnect from long term stress and helps to soothe the nervous system.



3 Minute Breathing Space
3 Minute Breathing Space

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