Traumatic events are not only stressful in the moment, but they can also leave a lasting impact on the body and mind, contributing to the onset of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD was initially defined as a disorder primarily for veterans due to the impacts of war. Nowadays, PTSD is a much more common diagnosis and affects people from all backgrounds.
The Impact of PTSD on the Brain
Since PTSD arises from the experience of a highly stressful event, this can cause your brain to become stuck in danger mode, always ready on high alert. As the body continues to send stress signals and hormones throughout the body, this can cause the body to become highly sensitive to these brain chemicals.
People with PTSD often have an overactive amygdala or alarm center in the brain. The prefrontal cortex, which controls decision-making and emotional regulation, is also often underactive. It also impacts the hippocampus in the brain, which is your memory center, leading to impaired memory recall.
This combination of an overactive alarm center and an underactive regulation center leads to the experience of emotional dysregulation and constant high alert in the body. Additionally, the impairment of memories can lead to feelings of confusion about the event and can make it harder to process. These changes in the brain ultimately impact your thoughts and emotions, leading to the felt experience of PTSD.
How PTSD Changes Your Thoughts
PTSD affects every person differently, and how it impacts a person’s thoughts and mindset can also greatly vary. The impact of PTSD on your thoughts also often depends on your personality, development, culture, and the characteristics of the event.
Trauma and PTSD often cause a person to react with a fight, flight, freeze, or fawn response. These responses have different impacts on one’s thoughts and behavior. Trauma often causes people to interpret everyday events in their life through the lens of their past experience, leading to a continued re-activation of these trauma responses and the experience of emotional dysregulation.
The most common impact of PTSD is on thoughts about the future, in which a person may feel hopeless about the future and anticipate future additional traumatic events. Another common cognitive characteristic of PTSD is the experience of flashbacks or intrusive thoughts and memories in which an individual is flooded with thoughts or memories of the past event.
PTSD also impacts an individual’s memory and may lead to cognitive errors and misinterpretations. It is important to note that it is entirely normal to react in these ways to traumatic or stressful events, but when these impacts continue for a long time, it can begin to impact your quality of life drastically.
Improve PTSD at Eastside TMS and Wellness Center
The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder can be debilitating, but you don’t need to fight this battle alone anymore. At Eastside TMS and Wellness Center, we specialize in supporting people in recovery from depression and PTSD.
Located in Renton, WA, we utilize transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to help reset the brain and bring your emotions back under control. Reach out to us for more information on how you can get the support you need for PTSD.