One way the body is altered by PTSD is that the gene that regulates our stress response, identified as FKBP5, is altered. Its function is reduced, causing the stress hormones (cortisol response) to become activated for a longer period of time. This makes a person more susceptible to stress related mental disorders.
Another way the body is altered by PTSD is that different areas of the brain are changed. The Hippocampus, the part of the brain that stores long-term memory, becomes smaller. The Medial Orbitofrontal Cortex, the part of the brain that’s involved in fear conditioning, also becomes smaller. Dr. Daniel Amen, a brain-imaging expert who I deeply respect, writes in greater detail on this topic.
Can a person’s mental and biological health be improved even at the genetic level? Most definitely yes. A recent study published in Biological Psychiatry found that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) not only helps to reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but also heals the damage done at the genetic level.
After being treated by CBT, the people in the study experience increased Hippocampus volume and the gene FKBP5 functioned better (called higher gene expression). There wasn’t any significant change to the Medial Orbitofrontal Cortex.
The results of this study are thrilling. Its proof that the brain can be healed physically and psychologically. While medication and surgery have their places, it’s eye opening to see that psychotherapy is a very effective alternative for healing the mind and body. This holistic approach is key to how NET Practitioners help their patients manage PTSD. They teach their patients how to conquer the feeling of helplessness by taking control of their thoughts and emotions. They also teach techniques for relaxation. If you’re ready to get relief from the crippling effects of PTSD and achieve your optimum wellness, please contact my Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA office to set up an appointment.
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