Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Thursday's Therapy - TRAUMA Therapy Toolbox - PTSD and Jump-Starting the Child-Loss Brain

Thursday's Therapy

TRAUMA Therapy Toolbox

PTSD and Jump-Starting the Child-Loss Brain

Last week, we had part one of Dr. Frank Lawlis's suggestions for "Our Disoriented Brains" in terms of Sleep and healthy Supplements found in his book, The PTSD Breakthrough: The Revolutionary, Science-Based Compass Reset Program.

To find, last weeks post, click here:

This week, we will examine some of the techniques Dr. Lawlis suggests to help us begin to restore our traumatized, disoriented child-loss brain. But first, a reminder of exactly what PTSD is and what it may do to our brains...

What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

The essential feature of PTSD is the development of characteristic symptoms in the senses of the individual following exposure to an extremely traumatic stressor. The stressor usually involves being a part of, or witnessing an event of horrific magnitude. The traditional symptoms of PTSD include

  • Nightmares of past traumatic events
  • Flashbacks
  • Triggers of physical and psychological stresses
  • Avoidance of any reminder of similar stimuli
  • Isolation from others
  • Emotional numbing
  • Outbursts or anger or irrational rage
  • Problems in concentration and focus
  • Hypervigilance for triggers or paranoid thinking

There are few treatments that actually show documented benefit in healing PTSD. Medications for depression and anxiety are usually the frontline treatment. Group therapy has also been a mainline approach, especially with the integration of desensitization techniques. But nothing so far has produced a cure. PTSD is considered an anxiety reaction to trauma of any kind. {Lawlis will expand this definition of PTSD, so keep reading!}


How is our Child-Loss Brain Traumatized?

For a PTSD victim, the frontal lobes, which control the executive functioning of the brain (planning and organizing) and the temporal lobes, which handle memory and emotion, are both extremely inactive, almost asleep. Essentially, these areas are shut down.

{And these are the very areas of the brain most needed for helping us sort out and choose the best ways for our individual brains to heal, but with these lobes of our brains shut down, we feel lost and without direction for our healing.}

This explains why a person with PTSD commonly experiences no joy and has a very poor memory, little planning or executive power, and poor judgment.

While the front part of the brain is in slowest gear, the motor areas are going haywire. The motor areas of the brain are those associated with coordinating the active parts of our bodies (the limbs, the eyes, etc.). In this state, they are overly reactive...

There is also no relaxation and usually no restoration stage in a brain showing this pattern.

Through the study of brain patterns such as these, we have also discovered that there are definite signs of traumatic brain injuries associated with PTSD...

We now have evidence that PTSD is a complex medical condition, not just an emotional disorder.

{These are profound statements! Scientists can see there is actual physical injury to the brain as they view the new brain-imaging scans. ~ This is a huge component of Child-Loss trauma that largely goes unaddressed, and we are left feeling like we are "losing our minds," and in some ways we ARE, and yet NO ONE is addressing that physiological conundrum.

In our Child-Loss Grief and Trauma, too many "experts" focus on the Grief part which is emotional (sad) and not the Trauma part which is physiological and emotional (anxiety-producing).

These brain changes and traumatizations help explain why, after Merry Katherine's death, there were no songs or rhythms going through Tommy's head (Tommy is a drummer) as there had been every minute of his life before.

This helps to explain what happens to our memory. ~ Child-loss mothers have told us they could not find their cars in the parking lot after shopping, their brains were so traumatized from child-loss.

It also explains the increase of being accident-prone when we are not as attune to the danger signals around us. Having broken NO bones in my body my entire life, suddenly I break 4 bones total amidst 3 different accidental incidents within a two-year span amidst our child-loss grief and trauma.

Also the habitual routines that we have are traumatized by child-loss so that what was once an habitual act we did every day, we, for a while, could not remember to do that act.}

Now for the good news:

The brain is a remarkable organ, capable of healing itself both physically and psychologically.

What we know about brain function is that problem solving and proactive planning is centered largely in the frontal lobe of the brain and it sometimes has to be jump-started to find solutions.

Jump-Starting the Traumatized Brain

can be accomplished with multi-sensory exercises such as

  • Deep breathing
  • Gentle physical workouts
  • Yoga
  • Playing a musical instrument ~ Be aware that different kinds of music affect different areas of the brain. {In the Bible, David played the harp for King Saul to calm down Saul's agitation and paranoia.}
  • Singing {When I play hymns on the piano and sing along, within a matter of minutes, I am soothed, in tears, and in the presence of the Lord all at once!}
  • Listening to music ~ Lawlis notes, "Gospel music that seems to trigger hopeful emotions stimulates the amygdala, a very deep center in the brain."
  • Mental exercise ~The mind needs a focus in order to coordinate itself for action. You can't orient yourself in a vacuum or else you will lose yourself in chaos. {For me, doing Sudoku is soothing, as my brain shows it can function normally, even be challenged, while it commands the focus, and the grief feelings are held at bay for awhile~And strangely enough, it truly did seem to plant me in time out of the chaotic grief that could take me under and at times into pure chaos. Writing Poetry has been a lifesaver for me in my grief as it combines grief's emotions with the challenge of trying to find words that will capture those emotions, culminating in a very comforting exercise to soothe my otherwise piercing grief.}
  • Walking
  • {We are still discovering new ways to self-soothe. For Tommy, Shooting sporting clays, or going Fly fishing with his friends and brother opened him up to the joy center of his brain with the camaraderie, the skill, and the laughter shared between them.}

It is important to learn how to energize the mind with self-nurturance... Through stimulation into the joy centers, the spirit of life can find optimistic hope for the future.

Our comments are italicized or {in parentheses}.
The main content from tonight's post are from excerpts taken from the book,
The PTSD Breakthrough: The Revolutionary Science-Based Compass Reset Program by Dr. Frank Lawlis (2010)


1 comment:

mcProdigal said...

I hope you're getting lots of readers here. Some of what you're publishing is very profound. It brings back memories not only of my stepmom after she lost a child but, to some degree, it brings back memories of my mom and she was abandoned by my dad.

Your list of characteristics of PTSD fits both. I love that you have provided a list of ways to combat the physiological part of the syndrome.

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