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Understanding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Part 1

November 4, 2016
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Understanding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Part 1

ptsdUnderstanding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Part 1

We have thousands upon thousands of men, women, and children in our nation who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). These people may have suffered a onetime or ongoing traumatic experiences like rape, abuse, natural disasters, have been exposed to horrific things in their occupations, or experienced the ravages of combat in the military.

These wounds damage people to the very core of their soul. Twenty veterans a day commit suicide and many people struggle with the pain of daily memories and disruptions to their life and relationships in the present. I have to remind you if this is you God desires your healing more than you do.

If you look at the person next to you in the grocery line, at your job, or walking through the mall, can you see what this person has gone through? Can you tell what kind of traumatic events they have experienced?

The answers is no. You can’t see the trauma that people have been through. That’s why it is called a hidden wound.

You can see a scar or physical injury on the outside but you can’t see wounds that are within. Yet those of you who have experienced the myriad of life events through either your military service, or from other circumstances, may have hidden wounds deep inside. They can’t be seen or heard but they can be felt by the one who is carrying them.

In World War I PTSD was called Shell Shock. In World War II it was labeled as Combat Fatigue. It was not until 1980 in the diagnostic book of the DSM III did we come up with the name Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It started with military personnel but the diagnosis expanded greatly to include all kinds of traumatic events, distress, and life threatening experiences.

In regard to our military and also first responders they are the most highly trained individuals that prepare to act and react in abnormal events. They have learned to develop, what for them became normal responses to abnormal events so that they could survive and operate in adverse conditions.

Unfortunately all the training a person receives from the military, police force, or fire, and rescue cannot inoculate you against PTSD. By definition it’s an anxiety disorder that develops in reaction to life threatening circumstances, physical injuries, mental, and emotional distress.

Personally I am not fond of diagnostic labels that are placed on your foreheads that define people, and lock you into patterns with little hope for healing. If you have received Jesus as Lord and Savior you are a work in progress. You may struggle with wounds, habits, and weaknesses but your true identity is in Christ Jesus.

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” 1 John 3:1-2
You are to receive that which God has for you even if there is a battle to receive it. He wants you whole and filled with peace and joy. Life has caused many of you to feel beaten down. When you falter and experience damage to often you can be labeled with a mental illness or a disorder, when in fact you are having natural responses to unnatural circumstances.

Your brain is organized; your experiences shape your brain whether they’re good or bad. In response to traumatic events the amazing design of your brain enables you to respond when an immediate danger is present to save your life.

So let’s change the language because post traumatic stress by a neurological standpoint is not a disorder, it is a reordering of your neural networks and pathways, and your sensory pathways, so that you can survive in dangerous situations.

This re-ordering is a natural response to your environment whether the trauma was ongoing child abuse, rape, natural disaster, or combat.

Your brain is designed to gather information from your five senses, and quickly tell you how to react. Fear triggers, for example, result in split-second changes in the body which help you to defend against danger giving you a fight or flight response which is intended to protect you from harm.

The body releases stress hormones which cause an increase in your pupil size so you can take in more information through your eyes, your heart rate is increased so more oxygen will be pumped to your muscles and brain, and even more glucose is released so that your organs are supplied with sufficient energy.

This is by intelligent design so you can rapidly run away or confront danger. This is not a disorder this is a natural response and reordering based on unnatural circumstances of prolonged periods of time in dangerous situations where hyper-vigilance is necessary to keep yourself alive.

When your sensory systems become overwhelmed and sensitized regularly you become easily triggered so you see and hear things through a filter and become hypervigilant and hyperaroused. This causes pain and stress to the one suffering and the family members who love them.

You experience this pain through your soul- mind, will, and emotions. Therefore the struggle that you face is in your thought life, beliefs, and expectations, your emotional ups and downs, and the life skill responses and behaviors that you operate in.

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).

In part two of this series I will explain how this happens at a biological level in our brain and help you to understand the symptoms and solutions. Remember that in Jesus there is always hope and the name of Jesus is greater than any diagnosis.

Dr. Michele

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