Trauma in the Brain

There are three main parts of the brain which are greatly affected by experiences severe or chronic traumatic events.

Hippocampus
The hippocampus processes trauma memories, by recycling the memory, mostly at night via dreams, which takes place over weeks or months. It then transfers the integrated stored memory to another part of the brain. High levels of stress hormones causes the hippocampus to shrink or under-develop, resulting in impaired function. Childhood traumas exaggerates this effect. The trauma memory therefore remains unprocessed in the hippocampus, disintegrated, fragmented, and feels “current” rather than in the past. Some people can be born with a smaller hippocampus making them more vulnerable to develop PTSD.

Amygdala
The brains “fear center.” The amygdala helps to store memories, paticularly emotions and physical sensations. It also controls activation of stress hormones … the body’s flight or fight response. In PTSD, the amygdala becomes over-reactive causing frequent or near constant high levels of stress hormones.

Pre-frontal Cortex
The pre-frontal cortex helps us to asses threats, manage emotion, plan reaponses, and control impulses. It is the centre of rational thinking. Childhood trauma causes under-development of the pre-frontal cortex, which results in impaired ability to assess theeat through thinking, manage emotions and control impulses.

Untwist Your Thinking (10)

  1.  Identify the Distortion: Write down your negative thoughts so you can see which of the ten cognitive distortions you’re involved in. This will make it easier to think about the problem in a more positive and realistic way.
  2. Examine the evidence: Instead of assuming that your negative thought it true, examine the actual evidence for it. For example, if you feel that you never do anything right, you could list several things you have done successfully.
  3.  The Double Standard Method: Instead of putting yourself down in a harsh, condemning way, talk to yourself in the same compassionate way you would talk to a friend with a similar problem.
  4.  The Experimental Technique: Do an experiment to test the validity of your negative thought. For example, if, during an episode of panic, you become terrified that you’re about to die of a heart attack, you could jog or rum up and down several flights of stairs. This will prove that your heart is healthy and strong.
  5.  Thinking in Shades of Gray: Although this method might sound drab, the effects can be things on a range from 0 to 100. When things don’t work out as well as you hoped, think about the experience as a partial success rather than a complete failure. See what you can learn from the situation.
  6.  The Survey Method: Ask people questions to find out if your thoughts and attitudes are realistic. For example, if you believe that public speaking anxiety is abnormal and shameful, ask several friends if they ever felt nervous before they gave a talk.
  7.  Define Terms: When you label yourself “inferior” or “a fool” or “a loser” ask, “What is  the definition of “a fool”? You will feel better when you see that there is no such thing as “a fool” or “a loser.”
  8.  The Semantic Method: Simply substitute language that is less colorful and emotionally loaded. This method is helpful for “should statements.” Instead of tellling yourself I shouldn’t have made that mistake,” you can say, “It would be better if I hadn’t made that mistake.”
  9. Re-attribution: Instead of automatically assuming that you are “bad” and blaming yourself entirely for a problem, think about the many factors that may have contributed to it. Focus on solving the problem instead of using up all your energy blaming yourself and feeling guilty.
  10. Cost Benefit Analysis:  List the advantages and disadvantages of a feeling (like getting angry when your plane is late), a negative thought (like “No matter how hard I try, I always screw up”), or a behavior pattern (like overrating and lying around in bed when you’re depressed.) You can also use the Cost-Benefit Analysis to modify a self-defeating belief such as, “I must always try to be perfect.”

Bring Back Black Box!!

ABC 2014 TV Series starring Kelly Reilly (from Heaven is for Real) plays Catherine Black a neurologist who has full blown Bipolar Disorder!! 

(online on iTunes)

Catherine Black plays a beautiful, brilliant neurologist who uncovers the mysteries of the brain. But, get this!! She has full blown Bipolar Disorder!! For me, her performance/character was captivating because it proved that mental illness has no limits. It showed that every case is different and should be treated with care. This role gave Kelly depth in her acting abilities and me the courage to be myself and hold on to the ones I love!!

As a doctor Catherine’s treatment was coming from some place real, reaching far beyond science and anything you could ever learn in a book. As the series progresses Dr. Black is torn between two love affairs, keeping secrets from her family and co-workers and struggling to manage an unpredictable illness. I was so sad to see this show end after one season. But, it definitely draws you in and is certainly worth binge watching.

Sorry, I don’t do spoilers!!

But, you can check the show out for free on *Daily Motion* (or pay $34.99 on iTunes) and be sure to come back to post your episode-by-episode commentary if you are so lead!!


Also, check out the NBC 2013 TV Series Do No Harm

(Online on YouTube, iTunes and Google Play)

DO NO HARM — Season Pilot — Pictured: Steven Pasquale as Dr. Jason Cole/Ian Price — Respected neurosurgeon Dr. Jason Cole has it all: a great job, a winning personality — and a dangerous alternate personality. For years Jason has been able to keep his other self — a devious, borderline sociopath who goes by the name of Ian — in a chemical prison with a powerful sedative, but his body has developed a resistance, allowing Ian to escape. And Ian is angry about the time he has lost. With so much to lose, Jason must find a way to stop Ian from destroying everything that Jason has worked so hard to build.