When people think of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), they most often think of people who have survived war, but in actuality, it can be any traumatic event, such as sexual violence, assault, a life event like a plane crash, or any type of traumatic abuse.
While therapy, medicine, and supportive factors like maintaining relationships and community can help with PTSD, sometimes the problem demands more serious intervention.
Since the initial symptoms of the trauma are induced by the body’s “fight or flight response”, in which norepinephrine is released to the amygdala, the belief is that if the trauma is significant, that fear center of the brain becomes even more sensitive, growing additional nerve connections and perpetuating the fear response related to the event. In these cases, medical intervention may provide relief by interfering with the reception of impulses into the amygdala.
Called a Stellate Ganglion Block, the procedure involves an anesthetic agent being applied to the stellate ganglion, a collection of nerves in the neck that feed into the amygdala. The therapy offers a kind of “reset button” to that fear center of the brain, providing relief for the symptoms of PTSD almost immediately, with research showing a 70-75% success rate years after the treatment, compared to 40% with traditional methods.
Because the nerve impulses are disrupted, the patient can better deal with the biological implications of the traumatic response, allowing the other resilient factors to better help address the symptoms. While not a cure, Stellate Ganglion Block can help patients find some normalcy in their lives that they had lost.
Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
While it is completely natural for a person to feel fear after a traumatic event due to the “fight or flight” nature of the moment, sometimes the event can leave deeper psychological scars. Though it can appear immediately after the event causing the trauma, the disorder can take years to start to affect the person due to suppressing the memories associated with the event.
There are several different symptoms by which PTSD can be identified and are common in those who suffer a trauma:
- Re-experiencing symptoms : flashbacks, nightmares, and intrusive thoughts are common after trauma, and they cause the person to “relive” the moments that caused them so much pain. There can be triggers on the outside for these phenomena, or it can simply be the patient’s own thoughts.
- Avoidance symptoms : after the trauma, the person may develop behavior patterns that protect them from elements associated with the event, such as avoiding places or activities associated with the trauma or avoiding thoughts connected to it.
- Arousal and activity symptoms : becoming easily startled, aggressive, tense, or losing sleep can be serious effects of PTSD, causing major changes in daily behavior.
- Cognition and mood symptoms : a person may become trapped in negative thoughts, be unable to concentrate, suffer from memory problems, or avoid things that once brought joy and fulfillment.
While these are common symptoms after any trauma, if they persist together over time and disrupt the person’s life, relationships, and work, there is a likely diagnosis of PTSD. Depending on the risk and resilience factors of the person suffering from PTSD, it can become extremely disruptive and debilitating.
For more information about Stellate Ganglion Block for the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, contact our office today for a free consultation.