How Ptsd And Physical Health Are Related
There is something unique to having PTSD that puts people at risk for developing physical health problems. A number of theories have been proposed to explain this connection. It has been suggested that a variety of factors interact to increase the risk for physical health problems among people with PTSD.
People with PTSD may engage in more risky and health-compromising behaviors, such as alcohol and drug use. The hyperarousal symptoms of PTSD may also put someone in a constant state of stress and anxiety. Factors like these combine to put tremendous strain and stress on a person’s body, increasing the risk for physical health problems and illness.
Avoidance And Emotional Numbing
Trying to avoid being reminded of the traumatic event is another key symptom of PTSD.
This usually means avoiding certain people or places that remind you of the trauma, or avoiding talking to anyone about your experience.
Many people with PTSD try to push memories of the event out of their mind, often distracting themselves with work or hobbies.
Some people attempt to deal with their feelings by trying not to feel anything at all. This is known as emotional numbing.
This can lead to the person becoming isolated and withdrawn, and they may also give up pursuing activities they used to enjoy.
A Natural Part Of The Fight
Anxiety is a natural reaction, and in small doses, its actually healthy. It is thought that some of the symptoms of anxiety including nausea developed to tell your brain that there was something dangerous or new in the vicinity so that you would make a smart decision regarding your next action.
When you are under stress but not facing any present danger, nausea can be especially distressing. When faced with stress, the body goes into the âfight or flight mode,â triggering the autonomic nervous system specifically activating the sympathetic nervous system and inhibiting the parasympathetic nervous system.
This action releases a hormone called epinephrine, which is often referred to as âadrenaline.â Additional stress may trigger other adrenal-related hormones. These hormones alter the stomach lining and food digestion take blood away from the digestive system and cause hyperventilation , dizziness, and more.
Stress can also cause muscle tension in your abdomen, and that added tension may squeeze your stomach in a way that leads to nausea. The gut also has an abundance of neurotransmitter receptors and is highly connected to the brain. It is possible that the way anxiety alters neurotransmitter levels in the brain may affect the gut as well.
Finally, during fight or flight, digestion is inhibited, which may affect how you process food and stomach acid and may lead to nausea.
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Mental And Physical Health
There is a strong connection between anxiety nausea and your mental and physical health. In short, severe anxiety can seriously impact your quality of life.
Anxiety and depression are classified as mental health disorders and they often go hand-in-hand. When anxiety and depression exist together, it can be hard to determine if the anxiety caused the depression or vice versa. The Hope for Depression Research Foundation, an organization that focuses on medically reviewed research, describes depression as a brain disorder and a state of mind.
The National Institute of Mental Health makes the distinction between occasional anxiety as a response to stress and chronic anxiety that turns into generalized anxiety disorder , or an anxiety attack. Its common for people to experience anxiety and stress temporarily. By contrast, chronic anxiety may also be a stress response, but it can become an anxiety-related disorder if it doesnt go away or it worsens over time. Chronic anxiety will usually interfere with your work, school, family life, and other daily activities and it can seriously affect your quality of life.
People that live with anxiety disorders of all types can realize positive long-term improvement when they get the proper medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment. As with any type of severe symptoms, its always best to speak with a trusted professional. You can reach out to your doctor or seek the help of a licensed therapist.
Complications Of Panic Disorder
Panic disorder is treatable and you can make a full recovery. But itâs best to get medical help as soon as you can.
If you do not get medical help, panic disorder can escalate and become very difficult to cope with.
Having panic disorder may affect your ability to drive. The law requires you to inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency about a medical condition that could impact your driving ability.
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What Happens When You Experience A Traumatic Event
When you experience a traumatic event, your bodys defences take effect and create a stress response, which may make you feel a variety of physical symptoms, behave differently and experience more intense emotions.
This fight or flight response, where your body produces chemicals which prepare your body for an emergency can lead to symptoms such as:
- raised blood pressure
- increased sweating
- reduced stomach activity .
This is normal, as its your bodys evolutionary way of responding to an emergency, making it easier for you to fight or run away.
Directly after the event people may also experience shock and denial. This can give way over several hours or days to a range of other feelings such as sadness, anger and guilt. Many people feel better and recover gradually.
However, if these feelings persist, they can lead to more serious mental health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
Post-traumatic stress disorder
People experiencing PTSD can feel anxious for years after the trauma, whether or not they were physically injured.
Common symptoms of PTSD include re-experiencing the event in nightmares or flashbacks, avoiding things or places associated with the event, panic attacks, sleep disturbance and poor concentration. Depression, emotional numbing, drug or alcohol misuse and anger are also common.
Antidepressants may also be prescribed to relieve the depression which people who have survived trauma often experience at the same time.
Other Effects Of Anxiety
Anxiety symptoms can last for a long time, or come and go. You might find you have difficulty with day-to-day parts of your life, including:
- looking after yourself
- trying new things
- simply enjoying your leisure time.
In some cases anxiety can have a serious impact on your ability to work. See our pages on how to be mentally healthy at work for information on how to cope. Our legal pages on discrimination at work can provide information about your rights in the workplace.
If you drive you may have to tell the DVLA if you have an anxiety disorder. For information on your right to drive, including when and how to contact the DVLA, see our legal pages on fitness to drive.
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Emotional And Psychological Trauma
If youve experienced an extremely stressful eventor series of eventsthats left you feeling helpless and emotionally out of control, you may have been traumatized. Psychological trauma often has its roots in childhood, but any event that shatters your sense of safety can leave you feeling traumatized, whether its an accident, injury, the sudden death of a loved one, bullying, domestic abuse, or a deeply humiliating experience. Whether the trauma happened years ago or yesterday, you can get over the pain, feel safe again, and move on with your life.
Can Anxiety Disorders Make You Sick
But now a study headed by Jitender Sareen of the University of Manitoba has detailed just what Anxiety Disorders can do to you physically.
It was proven several years ago that those with Anxiety Disorders are more prone to heart problems. This new study shows that people with Anxiety Disorders also have an increased risk of developing physical ailments, particularly thyroid diseases, respiratory diseases, gastrointestinal diseases, arthritis, allergies, and migraine diseases.
Early treatment of Anxiety Disorders is essential to warding off physical diseases caused by it. Sareen said,
Right now there is a long delay between someone developing an anxiety problem and seeking appropriate treatment usually 10- 15 years. The hope is to get people with anxiety problems to go get help earlier. The treatments are quite effective if you get at it early before you get secondary .
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Ptsd And Fatigue: Is It Normal To Feel So Tired
I received an email from a client last week he was very upset. Usually, he’s the kind of guy who likes to travel on the drop of a dime but since PTSD began to control his life, hes noticed that traveling takes an enormous toll on him.
After even the smallest trip, he wrote, “I have to sleep all the next day. Is this part of the PTSD profile?”
In a word: Yes.
How To Get Help For Ptsd
Sadly, PTSD is becoming more and more common. Living with PTSD can negatively impact your life, making it hard to hold down a job, look after your family or even care for yourself.
If you have PTSD, it is crucial to seek professional help and treatment as soon as possible. Dont put off getting advice from a medical professional. If you or a loved one lives with co-occurring PTSD and substance use disorder, centers like The Recovery Village can be a great place to get help. Reach out to a representative today for more information.
Psychiatry.com. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. American Psychiatric Association, 2013. Accessed April 10, 2019.
Rcpsych.ac.uk. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2019. Accessed April 10, 2019.
Ptsd.va.gov. PTSD: National Center for PTSD. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 2019. Accessed April 10, 2019.
Mind.org.uk. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. Mind, 2018. Accessed April 10, 2019.
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Both Can Be Caused By A Single Traumatic Event
One example of this is the military veterans that are coming back home from war zones.
If they have been exposed to a roadside bomb, for example, that is a very traumatic experience, especially if the people they were with got killed or wounded in any way. That blast from the roadside bomb can cause the crystals in the inner ear to break loose, causing them to have true vertigo in their inner ear called BPPV and then also PTSD from the emotional experience, all from one incident or series of incidents that they went through in a war zone.
In that example, the military veteran may also experience a post-concussion brain injury affecting their mental function and/ or ringing in the ears, called tinnitus.
All of the new symptoms that appeared after the traumatic event need to be addressed for the best recovery.
How Can I Find Help
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides the Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator, an online resource for locating mental health treatment facilities and programs in your state. For additional resources, visit NIMH’s Help for Mental Illnesses webpage.
If you or someone you know is in immediate distress or is thinking about hurting themselves, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at 1-800-273-TALK . You also can text the Crisis Text Line or use the Lifeline Chat on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website.
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How Ptsd Can Cause Physical Pain Symptoms
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety disorder that develops after an uncontrollable traumatic event. PTSD impacts approximately 7-8% of the U.S. population, and about 8 million U.S. adults are estimated to have PTSD at any given time.1 Post-traumatic stress disorder has a number of debilitating symptoms.
These symptoms include:
- Re-experiencing the trauma through nightmares, flashbacks, or intrusive memories
- Avoidance symptoms, such as avoiding anything associated with the trauma, which may include avoiding things that were once enjoyable or necessary for daily living
- Reactivity symptoms, such as difficulty sleeping, difficulty calming down, relaxing, or concentrating.
- Changes in mood that are significant enough to impact relationships, goals, happiness, or everyday living2
People who struggle with PTSD often avoid troubling situations and things that remind them of any aspect of trauma. Flashbacks, nightmares, wanting to avoid people, places, and things associated with the trauma. Emotional numbness, detachment, anxiety, hypervigilance, sleep disturbances, and fear are all common features of PTSD.
All of these symptoms can harm your health, wellbeing, relationships, and quality of life. These effects can be debilitating, so do not underestimate the power of these issues.
What Are The Symptoms Of Ptsd In A Child
Children and teens with PTSD feel a lot of emotional and physical distress when exposed to situations that remind them of the traumatic event. Some may relive the trauma over and over again. They may have nightmares and disturbing memories during the day. They may also:
Have problems sleeping
Feel depressed or grouchy
Feel nervous, jittery, or alert and watchful
Lose interest in things they used to enjoy. They may seem detached or numb and are not responsive.
Have trouble feeling affectionate
Be more aggressive than before, even violent
Stay away from certain places or situations that bring back memories
Have flashbacks. These can be images, sounds, smells, or feelings. The child may believe the event is happening again.
Lose touch with reality
Reenact an event for seconds or hours or, in rare cases, days
Have problems in school
Worry about dying at a young age
Act younger than their age, such as thumb-sucking or bedwetting
Have physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomachaches
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The Stress Hormone Cortisol Plays A Role: Can Emotional Abuse Make You Sick
Studies show that prolonged stress leads to increased levels of the hormone cortisol, and after a while, this can lead to inflammation. Can emotional abuse make you sick? Chronic inflammation can lead to diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.
If your body is experiencing the symptoms of anxiety or depression you may be ready to evaluate your relationship or your job. As you begin to shift your attention inward, and start the healing process, exercise, meditation, yoga and tai chi can really help.
You will need to sift through your feelings and make sense of what has happened. Neurofeedback can help calm your nervous system so that you will be able to think things through and make decisions. It will help you feel resilient and calm your mind.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing can help you work through particularly stressful events. EMDR has been proved to desensitize you to the trauma and stress youve been through.
Charities Supporting People Who Have Experienced A Traumatic Event
Cruse Bereavement Care a charity offering support for bereaved people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland a charity promoting the well-being of bereaved people in Scotland
Rape Crisis there are three rape crisis charities that offer support to people across the UK:
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Avoid Consuming Too Much Media About The Event
After experiencing a traumatic event, it can be tempting to watch or read lots of things about it on social media or in the news. This is especially the case for higher profile events like terrorist attacks or natural disasters. However, it is best to avoid watching, listening to or reading lots of media related to the event, especially if when you do so it causes you distress.
Panic Disorder In Children
Panic disorder is more common in teenagers than in younger children.
Panic attacks can be particularly hard for children and young people to deal with. Severe panic disorder may affect their development and learning.
If your child has the signs and symptoms of panic disorder, they should see a GP.
After taking a detailed medical history the GP will carry out a thorough physical examination to rule out any physical causes for the symptoms.
They may refer your child to a specialist for further assessment and treatment. The specialist may recommend a course of CBT for your child.
Screening for other anxiety disorders may also be needed to help find the cause of your childâs panic attacks.
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Causes Symptoms And Risks
PTSD is caused by experiencing or witnessing single, repeated or multiple events. For example:
- serious accidents
- physical and sexual assault abuse. This could include childhood or domestic abuse
- work-related exposure to trauma. Such as being in the army
- trauma related to serious health problems or childbirth
- war and conflict torture
Not everyone who experiences trauma will develop PTSD.
The risk of getting PTSD depends on how the experience affects you. PTSD is more likely to develop if the traumatic event:
- is unexpected,
- Self help
How can the NHS help me?
You can speak to your GP about your concerns. They will be able to talk to you about treatment options and coping strategies. You dont have to do what your GP thinks that you should do. But you should listen to them.
Make sure that you understand the pros and cons of your treatment options before you make a decision.
Your treatment with be managed by your GP or the community mental health team . In some cases, your treatment maybe shared between both primary and secondary care. Healthcare professionals will agree who will monitor you.
Some people will get care under the Care Programme Approach . This means that you will have a care plan and care coordinator to make sure that you get the support that you need.
Look at the following section for more information on NHS treatment.
Adult social services
What other help is available?
There may be a different service available, such as employment or isolation support.