Trauma is not shameful - Is it not a life sentence
There is help !
Trauma is a response from an event or series of events that are perceived as harmful or threatening and can have lasting adverse effects on the person’s functioning world; physical, social and emotional.
Traumatic events such as the recent and tragic Boulder mass shooting can initially cause symptoms such as anxiety, agitation, sadness, confusion, dissociation, numbness and exhaustion. These emotional responses can be normal initially, but if these emotions continues and one is finding yourself stuck in a pattern of distress, this could indicate you are experiencing a traumatic response and you should seek help before it gets trapped in your body and causes you more problems down the road.
Having a delayed response to trauma can also exist, therefore one should watch for ongoing fear, anxiety with flashbacks, avoidance of emotions and nightmares as other examples that are concerning and should be evaluated.
Trauma that has not been released from the body can lead to disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which affects 5-10% of the general population and typically women are twice as vulnerable as men (despite this statistic I believe this number is much much higher).
Trauma is a response to anything we perceive as a threat. This can be events that come without warning, events we are not prepared to deal with or a culmination of events over time. These events may leave one powerless and even leave one with a feeling of remorselessness without a solution.
Typical traumatic events can be; personal abuse and assaults, violence, neglect, witnessing violence or accidents, natural disasters and death.
What happens when we experience a trauma?
When our brain perceives a threat, our body goes into “fight or flight” and possibly “freeze”.
When trauma happens our adrenals release adrenaline and norepinephrine to give you a response to “fight”, thereby increasing your heart rate, giving more energy to the cells to allow for flight and so forth (previous newsletter on stress describes this more). If one is able to discharge that energy after the event (like animals do after an attack they have survived, a great book “Why Zebras don’t get ulcers”) then energy can move through the body and homeostasis will be restored.
However, if one is unable to fight or flight, then one will “freeze”. If one lacks the ability to discharge the energy that is locked in your body by the freezing response, this can lead to debilitating symptoms and over time these patterns of reaction get embedded in the body in an attempt to protect itself.
Let’s face it, we are always trying to perceive if something is safe or a threat. If we “perceive” danger, this “danger signal” can be stuck in the brain, particularly in the Limbic system long after the danger is gone and one could continue to send out stress signals inappropriately. The idea of “safety” has then changed and the brain is perceiving threats differently moving forward.
If a similar threat comes up again, our brain is trying to perceive the threat and the body will want to respond.
Unfortunately, unresolved trauma can create lasting symptoms that are unpredictable and varied person to person. For example, a memory of the trauma lives on in the body and can become a chronic pain issue or cause unusual symptoms that you may not know are related to a past trauma.
Symptoms of Trauma include:
sadness and hopeless
disconnection and isolation
confusion or trouble concentrating
loss of appetite
The severity of these symptoms are variable person to person
Trauma can lead to negative coping patterns like impulsive eating or addictions to drugs and alcohol. Often people will turn to self- medication (like drugs and alcohol) to cope and self-harm.
Other associated disease include; gastrointestinal problems such as IBS, urological problems, learning disabilities, Depression, Anxiety, Hypertension, Insomnia, Fibromyalgia, Migraines, PMS, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Obesity, Diabetes and Cancer, to name a few.
Trauma can change the brain
Neurotransmitters (brain chemistry) can also become dysregulated
Hippocampus shrinks (key for emotion and memory)
Amygdala increases activity (more reactive to fear and rumination)
Prefrontal /anterior cingulate function decreases (complex functions on planning and self-development
Brain changes associated with trauma have been found in the limbic system, which is where we perceive threats. There are also changes to the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal axis (HPA ) activity, especially related to cortisol regulation. Chronic stress from having a perceived ongoing threat (brain is in a pattern it can’t get out of ) will cause more cortisol, more adrenaline, more inflammation and disease or “dis-ease”
These brain changes are why it’s important to seek help early!!
However, let’s face it, many traumas are from childhood (can even have birth trauma) and therefore finding solutions to rewire the brain’s response and get the body more relaxed are key to not letting trauma ruin your health and your life.
Trauma can cause symptoms that usually start within 3 months of the trauma, but at times they don’t show up until many years later and even then they might be subtle and hard to connect to the trauma one experienced.
Trauma responses are unique to each person and are influenced by a physical, mental , emotional, and social makeup.
Trauma is not about personal failings, it is not something someone can choose and instead its about something that happens to someone. Trauma can set in quickly from a situation such as an accident, an assault, an attack (like the recent shooting) or it can be small wounds that build over time leading to traumatic responses.
Trauma has even been found to be passed on from generations to generations, where a trauma can be playing out even when one hasn’t experienced a specific traumatic event themselves.
Wild concept right?
Having and holding onto trauma, anxiety and depression are NOT Shameful, you are not crazy, you are not alone and you don’t have to live with this so please don’t hide. Reach out for support from us at BIH, we are here to help you!
For personal healing one needs to slow down, you need quietness, safety, support and protection from nature, friends, family and trained therapists.
Grounding is an important tool and even leaning into the discomfort of the trauma can reduce the reflex or reactivity that happens to you.
Self care and personal tools
Eat healthy (avoid sugars and inflammatory foods and alcohol)
Avoid distressing media and news
Engage with your community of friends and family instead of withdrawing
Additional therapeutic tools you can do from home
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) or Brain Tapping
The Dynamic Neural Retraining System (DNRS) by Annie Hooper online home courses available
Vagal Exercises such as the Rosenberg home exercises “Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve: A Self Help Exercises for Anxiety, Depression, Trauma and more by Stanley Rosenberg
CranioSacral Therapy by trained therapist
Acupuncture (Acupuncture Clinic of Boulder for example)
Consider an Emotional Support Animal
Psychotherapy is a very helpful tool for many
Often people do not even remember the trauma or it’s so painful they won’t seek help “avoidance” however it is important to know that there are ways to work through trauma without having to relive the trauma.
Cognitive behavioral therapy or “talk therapy” is one basic strategy to help one talk about their problems to help one frame thoughts differently, however there are many other therapy options that get you out of your brain and into your body instead. One does not necessarily have to “relive” or “discuss” trauma intellectually in order to work through the trauma towards healing,
It’s much better to rewire the brain and move trauma through your body to heal from this trauma.
Reach out to a therapist specializing in Trauma, such as; Somatic Experience, EMDR “eye movement desensitization and reprocessing “, Body Centered Psychotherapy, Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Somatic Experiencing, Brainspotting, Hypnotherapy and more.
If you cannot pay out of pocket for therapy, you can get a list of providers from your insurance company for someone who would take insurance in network.
I have a list of wonderful resources for you if needed
Consider Ketamine IM or IV at BIH!
We have been using Ketamine on existing patients with wonderful success and we are excited to continue this offering, especially now!
We offer IM or IV Ketamine to existing clients at the clinic under RN supervision and with a therapist of your choice. I am requiring clients have a psychotherapy assisted session for optimal results and safety. If you do not have a current therapist that you can hire for these sessions, I have resources for therapist and coaches who are trained in this form of therapy.
Ketamine has traditionally been known in the medical world as an anesthetizing drug, however in the past 20 years it has gained attraction for being administered in a lower dose to provide relief and recovery from Trauma, PTSD, Pain, Anxiety and Depression. Ketamine has a rapid antidepressant and anti-anxiety effect, within an hour or a day, although these effects only last for 7–10 days, therefore multiple sessions are optimal for continued relief and for lasting improvements. We know that Ketamine has the noticeable effects on acute symptoms such as acute suicidal thoughts and acute anxiety. Ketamine has been shown to help around 70% of people with mood disorders such as Anxiety and Depression, especially when patients have treatment-resistant symptoms and have not have responded to other treatments such as Electroconvulsive Therapy, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and medications such as SSRI's or SNRI's.
How does it work?
Ketamine affects multiple receptors and multiple pathways in both the brain and the body.
One of the key pathways thought to be at play is the glutamate pathway. Ketamine is an NMDA receptor antagonist. It binds to the NMDA receptor protein on cell membranes and blocks glutamate from binding there. Glutamate is a major neurotransmitter in the brain and when overly activated, it can drive more anxiety and depression. Regarding pain, the NMDA receptor is involved in the amplification of pain signals, the development of central sensitization and opioid tolerance, therefore an "antagonist" medication can block this amplification to reduce pain.
Ketamine may work by stimulating the regrowth of specific neurological connections. Researchers believe that prolonged exposure to stress and trauma can damage certain neurons and Ketamine has the ability to cause these neurons to regenerate within hours of administration. When coupling this therapy with psychotherapy and coaching, the results can be profound and lasting.
Ketamine also acts on the mTOR pathway and the AMPA receptor and even the opioid receptors in the brain, but how much each pathway interacts with the others or if one path is most important is still not understood. The mTOR pathway is thought to be how Ketamine drives the growth of new neural connections yet although we know that Ketamine increases neural connectivity and neuroplasticity, we don’t know exactly how this happens.
Ketamine permits or encourages robust neural activity
This increased neural activity likely helps the brain, and other affected neurons, to function more normally
The increased neural activity likely also creates neuroplasticity, allowing a patient’s neural activity to overcome unhealthy recursive patterns
For acute trauma may new 1-3 sessions to break cycle
For PTSD, Chronic Anxiety and Depression one typically needs 6-8 consecutive sessions (1-3 per week) and then touch ups as needed
For pain relief you will need a longer session and no psychotherapy assistance required (inquire for special pricing )
Sessions are 2 hours in length in a beautiful private room
Zofran included (nausea is a common side effect when coming out of session)
$350 for IM session or $500 for infusion therapy
30 min initial intake with RN included in price
Other medical treatment options
Medications can be helpful such as Midazolam (can be habit forming unfortunately)
Cannabidiol (look for our upcoming newsletter on CBD by Erika Weich local Acupuncturist and Hebalist– a fantastic local resource!)
To seek help
The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies
The National Center for PTSD
Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma by Peter Levine
Why Zebras don’t get Ulcers by Robert Sapolsky
Ketamine for Trauma Therapy
Ketamine for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
A Randomized Controlled Trial of Repeated Ketamine Administration for Chronic PTSD
Am Journal of Psychiatry
Repeated Ketamine Infusions reduce PTSD symptom Severity
The Mount Sinai Hospital
January 5th 2021
Treatment-resistant depression: therapeutic trends, challenges, and future directions
Ketamine enhances structural plasticity in human dopaminergic neurons: possible relevance for treatment-resistant depression
Past trauma may haunt your future health
Cannabidiol in Treatment of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Series (small study)
Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (JACM)