Can Alcohol Cause Traumatic Responses? The Two-Way Street Between Alcohol and PTSD

Tuesday, July 26, 2016 by Meg   •   Filed under Trauma

In people ages eighteen and older, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) occurs in about three and a half percent of the population in any given year1. PTSD is common following situations that involve threatened death or serious injury, such as robbery or rape, an earthquake or a car accident.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder leads many to feel out of control. The symptoms may be so overwhelming some turn to the use of substances in an effort to calm themselves. However, there is a great deal of evidence to suggest that alcohol not only exacerbates the symptoms of PTSD, but also increases the likelihood of getting PTSD in the first place....  continue reading

Pieces of Memory: Trauma, Fragmented Images, and Flashbacks

Saturday, May 30, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under Trauma

Trauma changes the brain in ways many do not fully understand. While other posts go into more detailed explanations of traumatic response, the issues of fragmented memories and flashbacks are often first and foremost in the minds of those who suffer. These issues were prominent in my time working on the locked inpatient unit at the VA. 

This post is an exploration of why memories fragment, how they become integrated and the story of a man who fought flashbacks for sixty years before his traumatic memories returned.

The real cost of war can be seen at any VA hospital, but post-traumatic stress is not isolated there. You can also see traumatic reponses in those who fled for their lives on 9-11, in those with a history of abuse. Hug a veteran today. Hug someone you love. Celebrate them and the fact that we are the lucky ones. We are still here....  continue reading

I Am A Killer

Thursday, April 30, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under Trauma

By: Byron Hamel

For years, I looked for him.

The man who tortured me.

It made sense in my brain.  I’d find him.  Tie him up.  I’d torture him for months.  And then I’d kill him.  Slowly.  I would tear him into pieces.  I would mail him to his relatives.  And to my mother.  She who sat and watched.  And who sometimes participated.  Getting off on it.  She who some of my own family still recommend that I forgive, and send her pictures of my children.  They still believe I should respect her.  Hold her name up high, and bring her in with open arms.  This torturing malicious animal who is my mother.

This monster and her mate, the morbid sexual relief they found from beating me.  And how they breathed in coitus while they made us watch as we both sat there bleeding.  Five long years I lived through this.  So many pieces missing....  continue reading

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Treatment Alternatives

Monday, June 30, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Trauma

Trauma. It's not just for veterans. It can happen to anyone at any time when the stress response gets stuck in the "on" position, though there is usually a triggering event. Last week, we went over some alternative ideas on trauma, specifically Peter Levine’s theory in Waking The Tiger. He believes that traumatic response may be the result of an adaptive freeze cycle that is interrupted by our huge brain and ability to worry1

But what we do about it may depend on a number of factors, including how much people are able to remember, or whether they recall anything at all....  continue reading

What Causes Trauma? The Evolution of PTSD and the Desire for Control

Monday, June 23, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Trauma

"It feels like being trapped in a cage. You're certain something is in there with you because you can feel it, smell it, but you can't see it. So you just keep frantically looking around this cage, waiting for it to pounce. Except the cage is like...your own brain and everything around you might be the thing that will hurt you. I just want someone to let me out."

My patient understood trauma well. Traumatic disorders are deeply distressing, a constant battle with your own mind and body. While past therapeutic intervention centered on the notion that trauma must involve actual or threatened death or serious injury, most practitioners are coming around to the idea that trauma can result from any situation where someone is overwhelmed by frightening emotions. The more helpless and frightened one is, the more likely they are to be traumatized. 

But, it is more than helplessness. Though some studies are currently looking at possible traumatic responses in domesticated animals, many wild and domestic animals go through life or death experiences on a regular basis without having long-term traumatic reactions....  continue reading