Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (cont.)
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When you are afraid, your body activates the "fight or flight"
If your body does not generate enough cortisol to shut down the flight or stress reaction, you may continue to feel the stress effects of the adrenaline. Trauma victims who develop post-traumatic stress disorder often have higher levels of other stimulating hormones (catecholamines) under normal conditions in which the threat of trauma is not present as well as lower levels of cortisol. This combination of higher than normal arousal levels and lower than normal levels of the "calming" hormones of the changes creates the conditions for PTSD.
After a month in this heightened state with stress hormones elevated and cortisol levels lowered, you may develop further physical changes, such as heightened hearing. This cascade of physical changes, one triggering another, suggests that early intervention may be the key to heading off the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.
The amygdala is the brain region that alerts the body to danger and activates hormonal systems.
Maria Pease, MD
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