Our Lives With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury

Posts tagged “Emotion and memory

Comorbidity with PTSD

Would you like some CDO with that? CDO is exactly like OCD except the letters are in alphabetical order, as they should be.

Yes folks, thats a joke.

Honestly though, studies have shown that comorbidity (the presence of other disorders) is the rule rather than the exception when it comes to PTSD. Disorders such as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Substance Abuse (presumably from attempting to self-medicate the symptoms of PTSD) and many others.

Is it any wonder? Studies have shown that PTSD fundamentally alters the human brain, not just in the way we process stimuli but physically as well. Recent advances in neuroimaging shows marked changes in the hippocampus (responsible for memory), the amygdala (emotional memory), and the medial frontal cortex (higher level thinking, behavior, motor skills and problem solving). Is it any wonder then that we experience so many symptoms that involve these area’s of the brain? Flashbacks, anxiety, hyperarousal, inability to concentrate, lack of emotional connections…the list goes on and on.

This is why treatment for PTSD is not always cut and dried. There is no single magic pill to control the symptoms for a majority of sufferers. Biochemical responses aside, because of the presence of other physical and psychiatric disorders, varying treatments are necessary. Some symptoms are more disabling than others in various patients, each person will react differently to a specific medication.

For this reason as well as many others, research must continue.  Until science can begin to grasp the full extent of the physiological changes that occur in the brain from PTSD, they cannot begin to uncover the reason behind the prevalence of comorbid disorders. Once science begins to understand this causation, perhaps then we will begin to see something resembling a standardized treatment protocol. At the very least, they will be able to narrow down what does and does not work. For those of us with PTSD, we can only hope that day comes sooner rather than later.