The Impact Trauma, PTSD and Stress
As adults, we are more than aware of the impact childhood events, circumstances, and interactions play in forming our inner belief system. But how much is really understood about the impact trauma, PTSD and stress has on our brain.
We are formed by those experiences, be they good or bad. For most of us, we live with the impacts of small traumatic events every day without truly understanding how they influence every decision or emotion we have as adults. Be that an early childhood issue with friendships, an experience of getting lost and separated from our caregiver or a negative interaction with a neighbour’s dog. The full implication of these interactions might not be fully known, unrecognised or misunderstood, but the influence is still there. Our avoidance of dogs when out walking, or an underlying feeling of not fitting in around new friend groups. No matter how small, these events are still traumatic, life-shaping, emotion-forming, and stress-inducing.
However, those who grew up with significant trauma, PTSD and Stress are more aware of the continual destructive effects that this early and chronic trauma plays on shaping and influencing their lives. The impact of significant trauma, PTSD and Stress is wide-reaching with these Adverse Childhood Experiences or ACES linked to chronic health issues, mental illness, and substance misuse in adulthood.
What Are Aces?
Adverse Childhood Experiences is a term or acronym used to explain potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood. ACEs can include violence, physical and emotional abuse, neglect, growing up in a family with mental health or substance abuse problems and household dysfunction. ACEs can drive toxic stress, which results in prolonged activation of the stress response, and the body is not able to fully recover. Toxic stress from ACEs can alter brain development and affect how the body responds to stress.
The more ACEs experienced during childhood, the more likely the impact seen in adulthood with people suffering from heart disease, diabetes, substance abuse and poor academic achievement.
The Impact Of Aces And Toxic Stress
Those who have struggled with significant neglect, abuse, and loss or who have been exposed to violence can have a profound and lasting impact on developing bodies and brains. Brain imaging technologies have shown that trauma and chronic stress can rewire or dysregulate a child’s brain.
When stress becomes chronic, it becomes toxic, and our nervous system becomes permanently amped up. Young brains and nervous systems get locked into a permanent state of high alert commonly known as a fight, flight or freeze mode.
can enhance neural connections to the brain’s “fight or flight” centre and lessen those to the brain’s “self-control” centre. Furthermore, it may shrink areas of the brain associated with regulating emotions, memory, metabolism, and learning. Children of trauma and chronic stress often become more anxious, aggressive, impulsive, and hyperactive. They can often exhibit a lack of empathy and poor problem-solving skills.
Additionally, further impacts include:
- Increase risk for conditions like depression, cancer, asthma, and diabetes in adulthood.
- Increase in risky behaviours like heavy drinking and smoking.
- Decrease in education and employment potential.
- Increased risk in ACEs being passed from one generation to the next.
The other term that most of us are more aware of when it comes to trauma is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Although the title is different, the bodies’ reactions and subsequent impacts and symptoms are the same. A stress response is triggered, sending your body into flight-or-fight mode.
For those who develop PTSD, this heightened state of arousal continues long after the event. This can lead to:
- Re-experiencing the event
- Arousal and reactivity symptoms
- Cognition and mood and cognition issues
In severe PTSD cases, your ability to function normally on a daily basis is significantly impacted.
The Statistical Imapct of Trauma, PTSD and Stress
- 70% of Americans have experienced a traumatic event during their lives, with some going on to develop long-term consequences, such as PTSD.
- Nearly 4% of adults and 5% of adolescents in the US struggle with PTSD
- 61% of the US have had at least one ACE, and 16% had four or more types of ACEs.
- Females and several ethnic minority groups are at a higher risk of experiencing four or more ACEs.
The brain makes up about 2% of the body’s weight but requires about 15% of its cardiac output, 20% of its oxygen, and 25% of its glucose to power billions of neurons and trillions of synapses.
Altering Your Brain’s Activity
The purpose of Brainwave Entrainment is to help the brain stabilise and calm itself and to repair the dysregulated brain patterns created by trauma.
By inducing a more relaxed state in your brain, you allow it to better “process” your emotions and reactions surrounding your trauma. Simply put, we move you out of your fight-or-flight mode to create healthier brain activity.
“When the fear patterns relax, the brain becomes less susceptible to automatic stress reactions and better able to focus on ordinary events,” Dr Bessel Van Der Kolk, “The Body Keeps the Score.”
If you have experience ACEs, Trauma or have been diagnosed with PTSD, your delta brainwaves are likely to be highly active.
With a focus on Alpha and Theta brainwaves, our objective is to reinforce and change your brainwave patterns in a way that encourages more relaxation. Focusing on alternative brainwaves, can help with the impact trauma, PTSD and stress has on our brain.