PTSD AWARENESS MONTH - JUNE 2022
June is PTSD awareness month. To mark this month, ACWB will be sharing a #didyouknow series to talk a few facts about PTSD.
What is PTSD?
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a condition that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event which is terrifying emotionally and/or physically. It may occur in response to a single distressing event or after a prolonged traumatic experience.
Symptoms of PTSD are most often seen within 3 months of experiencing the traumatic event but sometimes they may show up weeks, months or even years after the actual event took place. This may happen because research shows that unprocessed trauma is not just stored in our memories but also in our physical bodies. Symptoms can vary over time and from person to person. Symptoms may include:
- Recurrent, unwanted and distressing memories of the traumatic event
- Severe emotional distress caused by these memories
- Avoiding places, people or activities that remind you of the traumatic event
- Negative thoughts about yourself and the world
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Lack of interest in previously pleasurable activities
- Trouble sleeping or concentrating
We all have a window of tolerance, which is a zone of arousal within which one can function most effectively. This concept was originally developed by Dr. Dan Siegel. When one is within their window of tolerance, they can process information effectively and regulate their emotions, enabling them to make decisions without feeling overwhelmed or withdrawn.
Experiencing a traumatic event can narrow a person’s window of tolerance, where one may feel dysregulated in the face of stressful or triggering stimuli. One may experience anxiety, anger, depression, feelings of numbness or dissociation in response to even seemingly minor stressors.
Below is an infographic created by the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine (NICAMB), USA to understand how the window of tolerance works.
Animals can be observed shaking after a shocking or stressful event. You may have seen a dog do this. Why do you think they shake? As shared in our previous post, there has been research to indicate that trauma is actually physically stored in our bodies. Thus, shaking the body to release the tension and trauma can help to regulate the nervous system.
When our bodies experience a traumatic event, our bodily functions can get affected as the autonomic nervous system (ANS) elevates in response to it. For example, in the face of a traumatic event, the ANS releases adrenaline and cortisol, increasing the heart rate and blood pressure. Thus, deregulation of the nervous system can help reset the bodily functions and calm the body. This is where shaking the body comes in. It can help release the muscular tension, bring the nervous system to its neutral state and thus manage the stress levels in the body.
Many practitioners now use somatic experiencing or shaking therapy to work with unprocessed trauma.