When trauma is commonly thought of most would expect that it results from war or other instances involving numerous encounters of overwhelming stress. Although these instances certainly pose a significant risk of trauma, trauma can be more easily obtained by numerous different types of events and is encountered frequently on a regular basis. About 6 out of every 10 males and 5 out of every 10 females will face trauma at least once some point in their lives (National Center for PTSD). In addition to that, about 7 to 8 percent of the population will have posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at some point during their lives (National Center for PTSD). Trauma is defined as “an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape or natural disaster.” (American Psychological Association). Due to the ability of trauma to affect so many people not only in the U.S. but worldwide it is important to understand neurobiology and the effects such events have on the brain. Understanding the neurobiology of trauma is a must for treating such trauma medically and will aid in teaching coping methods to those suffering from these traumatic events. With that being said, the developed understanding of the neurology seems to successfully identify the parts of the brain that are stimulated and associated to disorders relating to trauma yet medicine fails to permanently cure the issue and only keeps those under balance while on the medication. Considering that a lack of medicine can leave one defenseless if not taken or forgotten should medicine be an approved or considered a reliable form of treatment to trauma?
“When someone experiences a traumatic event or experiences extreme fear, brain chemistry is altered and the brain begins to function differently–this is called the “Fear Circuity” and it is a protective mechanism which we all have inside of us.” (University of Northern Colorado). Knowing that a traumatic event can alter the brains chemistry leaves an open door within neurobiology to examine and treat the lasting effects. “Sertraline and paroxetine are the only antidepressants approved by the FDA for the treatment of PTSD” (Alexander, 2012). To this date there is no known permanent treatment of PTSD by prescription drugs and all are needed to be taken regularly and prescribed a dosage. Medications work by altering neurotransmitter production and transmission (Rousseau, 2021). However, other methods like yoga “can help to redirect the firing of neurons, or even create new neurons through two processes, called neuroplasticity and neurogenesis.” (Rousseau, 2021). Suicide rates of those dealing with PTSD is as much as thirteen times as many as those not dealing with PTSD (Gradus, 2017). Since a medical form of treatment cannot be relied on if they are not obtainable at all times it poses a clear significant risk to those dealing with PTSD. As pointed out in the film “Healing a Soldier’s Heart” there have been over 110,000 suicides since the Vietnam war which is almost twice as many casualties during the war of 58,000 (Healing a Soldier’s Heart, 2013). With this in mind, unless a more sustainable one time treatment becomes an option, teaching coping techniques should be more of a recommended form of treatment.
Of course there are extreme cases where teaching coping methods are not sufficient enough and the use of medication is needed to support the healing process. The message here is not to discredit current medications but to raise the concerns on its reliability and support future alternative methods that provides more of a cure than a temporary fix.
Alexander, W. (2012, January). Pharmacotherapy for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder In Combat Veterans: Focus on Antidepressants and Atypical Antipsychotic Agents. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3278188/
Gradus, J. (2017). PTSD and Death from Suicide. Retrieved from https://www.ptsd.va.gov/publications/rq_docs/V28N4.pdf
Neurobiology of Trauma. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.unco.edu/assault-survivors-advocacy-program/learn_more/neurobiology_of_trauma.aspx
Olsson Stephen, & Cultural & Educational Media (Producers), & Stephen, O. (Director). (2013). Healing a Soldier’s Heart. [Video/DVD] The Video Project. https://video.alexanderstreet.com/watch/healing-a-soldier-s-heart
Rousseau, D. (2021). CJ 720 Module 1. Boston University. https://learn.bu.edu/ultra/courses/_75565_1/cl/outline
Trauma and Shock. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/topics/trauma
VA.gov: Veterans Affairs. (2018, September 13). Retrieved from https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand/common/common_adults.asp