Traumatic stress involves a threat to a person's life or physical integrity. It can have profound effects on the brain, nervous system and peripheral body systems. The effect of trauma on our emotional and mental health is discussed extensively in the literature. However, the impact of the wound on the peripheral body (the peripheral nervous system, as well as the muscles and internal organs to which it is attached) is less understood. This impact is often not taken into account in primary health care or even in the therapist's office.
Doctors and therapists need to understand that the injury affects more than emotional and mental health. While the mechanism is not fully understood, we know from large population studies that traumatic stress is a factor in chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease (CVD). A survey conducted in various populations has shown that people suffering from depression, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety are at increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
How the trauma affects the heart
The trauma is associated with behavioral factors that affect the health of the heart and lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. People with a history of trauma are more likely to:
In addition, evidence suggests that there are biological effects of traumatic stress that occur regardless of behavior. For example, people with a previous trauma show increased biological signs of inflammation. In other words, traumatic stress increases inflammation in the body. In turn, inflammation has been shown to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. The effects of traumatic stress on the inflammation and the subsequent association with CVD are likely to play an important role in the causal relationship between trauma and CVD.
The effects of the wound on the inflammation appear to be maintained over time. A study designed to evaluate trauma and inflammation was tested in a sample of 1,021 subjects aged 40-90 years. The highest exposure to lifetime injuries was associated with increased levels of biological inflammation markers at baseline and after five years.
Complex trauma and related condition, composite Post Traumatic Anxiety Disorder (C-PTSD), is different from PTSD. The cause of PTSD can be an incident or a group of incidents, such as a battle, a natural disaster or a car accident. Meanwhile, complex trauma results from exposure to a continuing trauma for a long time. Child abuse and neglect and continued interpersonal trauma (ties) tend to meet the criteria for complicated trauma.
Evidence suggests that taking care for our body is very important if we have a history of trauma. Prolonged trauma during childhood results in a different accumulation of symptoms and effects. Sometimes it is more difficult to diagnose and treat. Patients with a history of prolonged trauma are at increased risk for CVD on multiple levels. Studies have found that the cumulative effects of prolonged trauma are associated with increased levels of inflammation and have the most powerful effects on the individual's physical health.
What can happen today?
Studies show that patients with cardiovascular disease exhibit higher biological signs of inflammation after acute mental stress as well as higher levels of circulating stress hormones. In addition to the ongoing physiological effects, exposure to childhood traumas is also associated with unhealthy behaviors that further increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
In some cases, a better understanding of how mental and physical habits affect our body in a certain way (such as cardiovascular risk) is driving us to make changes. Evidence suggests that taking care for our body is very important if we have a history of trauma. Similarly, taking mental health care measures can alleviate the damage that PTSD and C-PTSD may cause.
Therapeutic interventions are effective for PTSD and related symptoms. A trained professional can teach you strategies to deal with difficult emotions such as fear, anxiety, anger, and sadness. They can also help with the adjustment of emotions by providing the necessary support for healing.
Wound treatment should be a holistic undertaking where the body, emotions and minds are addressed and cultivated. In addition to taking measures to improve physical health, people are also encouraged to seek treatment to protect their hearts at every possible level.
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