Once Upon a Crisis: A Look at Post-traumatic Stress in Emergency Services from the Inside Out


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Fly on the wall

You might blow things out of proportion, or come to expect a catastrophe. For example: Something terrible is going to happen. What if they're waiting for me.


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What if it happens again. When people are feeling emotionally vulnerable, it is likely that they take things to heart and become more sensitive to what people say. They can often make assumptions about why someone said something, beign overly quick to draw conclusions, and thinking that they are the focus of what has been said. For example: You think that a friend has ignored you, but in fact they have other things on their mind.

They must be about to attack me. Often people can ignore the positive aspects of life or their situation. Instead you may focus on negative elements. This style of thinking stops us feeling good about ourselves. It can lower your confidence.

Hoping for hope

For example: This event has ruined my life I was only able to cope on that occasion because Sometimes people only see things as black or white, with no grey area or in-between. Having this polarised view can lead some people into setting themselves impossibly high standards, being overly critical and struggling to recognise any achievement due to their perfectionism.

That was a complete waste of time. They must hate me. I should always get full marks. Based on one isolated incident you might assume that other events will follow a similar pattern in the future. You might find it hard to see a negative event as a one-off. This can also mean that you label yourself, often unkindly, which can lower your mood and confidence, perhaps even leading to feelings of hopelessness. For example: Failing my driving test means I'll fail at everything. The neighbour's dog snarled at me, all dogs are vicious! I'm useless. Situation: Taking a walk in the evening along a path.

Now you can challenge your unhelpful thoughts by asking these questions. Is there any evidence that contradicts this thought? Can you identify any of the patterns of unhelpful thinking described earlier? What would you say to a friend who had this thought in a similar situation? I have walked along here plenty of times, it is no less safe than it was before I was attacked on that one occasion. I can manage these feelings of anxiety.

Try to apply these questions to the unhelpful thoughts that you notice. It can help to improve your mood. You can use this technique to test your thoughts are realistic and balanced. Work out a stable breathing rhythm. Perhaps try to breathe in for three seconds, hold this breathe for two seconds, and then breathe out for three seconds.

It can be helpful to count as you do this e. Repeat this action for a few minutes. You should soon begin to feel more relaxed. If you were feeling dizzy then this should also get better after a few minutes. Find somewhere comfortable and quiet where you won't be interrupted. You can either sit or lie down to practice this exercise.

Begin by focusing on your breathing. Try to have a slow and comfortable pace. You could use the controlled breathing technique described earlier. Do this for a few minutes to prepare for the muscular relaxation exercise. Try to tense each muscle group for around five seconds. Don't tense the muscle too tight. Focus on the sensations that this brings. Then relax your muscles for a similar length of time, and again, focus on how this feels. Then move onto the next muscle group. Try to remember to keep your breathing at a comfortable pace throughout.

Below are some suggestions of muscle groups that you may wish to work through: Legs - point your toes and tense your muscles as if you were trying to stand up. Stomach - tense your stomach muscles. This is the brain stem or the earliest developed part. All nonessential body and mind functions shut down. When the threat ceases, the parasympathetic nervous system down-shifts and resumes those higher functions.

For 20 percent of survivors, after effects remain, what we know as PTSD.

The organ being plastic, trauma fundamentally changes how it operates. Victims may have vivid nightmares and flashbacks, cannot abide change, and have difficulty expressing themselves. They will also avoid those things that remind them of their trauma. Several in-depth studies, using neuroimaging technology to map the brains of PTSD sufferers, have been conducted. These have outlined dramatic changes in brain structures and functions. The three most impacted places are the amygdala, the hippocampus, and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex vmPFC.

These complete the stress circuit inside the brain, and are responsible for the symptoms a sufferer continues to experience. The most impacted region is the hippocampus, responsible for memory. This area regulates the storage and retrieval of memories, as well as differentiating between past and present experiences. Since the nervous system is stuck in high gear, stress hormones remain elevated. This damages glucocorticoid cells in the hippocampus, making it difficult to form synaptic connections, and thus sustain or recall memories.

As a result, those with PTSD lose precious volume to the hippocampus. This causes an inability for the victim to tell the difference between past and present experiences. Due to this phenomenon, environments that even resemble where the trauma took place can cause panic, fear, and aggression. The victim cannot tell the difference between the past memory and the present situation.

First aid for emotional trauma - Harvard Health

Since it is unknown to them whether the threat has passed, the victim remains hypervigilant. They are stuck in reactive mode. Substantial loss of volume also takes place in the vmPFC. This area controls our response to emotions. With a limited vmPFC, victims find it harder to contain themselves or control behavior. Adding to this, the emotional center or amygdala increases in size. An overactive amygdala is responsible for the symptoms we generally think of when we consider PTSD including traumatic memories, negative mood alterations, an extreme startle response, and avoidance of anything that can conjure up trauma.

These symptoms are confusing to victims who find themselves suddenly without control of their minds and bodies. They can't understand why they are thrown into a rage or nearly brought to tears over the silliest thing. Sufferers may experience heart palpitations, memory loss, shaking, insomnia, nightmares, and difficulty concentrating.

Symptoms and diagnosis

Also, hypervigilance causes elevated levels of stress hormones, making it difficult for the body to regulate itself. The good news is, this condition is reversible. The amygdala can calm down, the hippocampus to start regulating memories again, and the parasympathetic nervous system revert from reactive to restorative mode. Treatment includes certain medications and behavioral therapies which have been proven to increase hippocampus volume in PTSD sufferers. Besides these, there is neuro-linguistic programming, hypnosis, and other alternative therapies to reprogram the mind.

Other helpful therapies include trauma releasing exercises, and body-mind techniques which can harken the person back to where they were before the trauma occurred, and help them to reconnect with themselves. Therapists agree that each PTSD management plan must be tailored to meet the individual's specific needs. Over time, the mind can be rewired and the person's life restored. Though easily damaged, the brain is also malleable and can bounce back. The relationship between parks and crime remains the subject of debate.


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  5. Researchers hope the technology will further our understanding of the brain, but lawmakers may not be ready for the ethical challenges. The image of an undead brain coming back to live again is the stuff of science fiction.

    PTSD: What you need to know

    Not just any science fiction, specifically B-grade sci fi. What instantly springs to mind is the black-and-white horrors of films like Fiend Without a Face. Bad acting. Plastic monstrosities. Visible strings. And a spinal cord that, for some reason, is also a tentacle? But like any good science fiction, it's only a matter of time before some manner of it seeps into our reality.

    This week's Nature published the findings of researchers who managed to restore function to pigs' brains that were clinically dead. At least, what we once thought of as dead. The researchers did not hail from House Greyjoy — "What is dead may never die" — but came largely from the Yale School of Medicine. They connected 32 pig brains to a system called Brain Ex.

    Brain Ex is an artificial perfusion system — that is, a system that takes over the functions normally regulated by the organ. The pigs had been killed four hours earlier at a U. Department of Agriculture slaughterhouse; their brains completely removed from the skulls. Brain Ex pumped an experiment solution into the brain that essentially mimic blood flow. It brought oxygen and nutrients to the tissues, giving brain cells the resources to begin many normal functions.

    The cells began consuming and metabolizing sugars. The brains' immune systems kicked in. Neuron samples could carry an electrical signal. Some brain cells even responded to drugs. The researchers have managed to keep some brains alive for up to 36 hours, and currently do not know if Brain Ex can have sustained the brains longer.

    As a control, other brains received either a fake solution or no solution at all. None revived brain activity and deteriorated as normal. The researchers hope the technology can enhance our ability to study the brain and its cellular functions. One of the main avenues of such studies would be brain disorders and diseases.

    This could point the way to developing new of treatments for the likes of brain injuries, Alzheimer's, Huntington's, and neurodegenerative conditions. It immediately offers a much better model for studying the human brain, which is extraordinarily important, given the vast amount of human suffering from diseases of the mind [and] brain," Nita Farahany, the bioethicists at the Duke University School of Law who wrote the study's commentary, told National Geographic.

    Before anyone gets an Island of Dr. Moreau vibe, it's worth noting that the brains did not approach neural activity anywhere near consciousness.

    Once Upon a Crisis: A Look at Post-traumatic Stress in Emergency Services from the Inside Out Once Upon a Crisis: A Look at Post-traumatic Stress in Emergency Services from the Inside Out
    Once Upon a Crisis: A Look at Post-traumatic Stress in Emergency Services from the Inside Out Once Upon a Crisis: A Look at Post-traumatic Stress in Emergency Services from the Inside Out
    Once Upon a Crisis: A Look at Post-traumatic Stress in Emergency Services from the Inside Out Once Upon a Crisis: A Look at Post-traumatic Stress in Emergency Services from the Inside Out
    Once Upon a Crisis: A Look at Post-traumatic Stress in Emergency Services from the Inside Out Once Upon a Crisis: A Look at Post-traumatic Stress in Emergency Services from the Inside Out
    Once Upon a Crisis: A Look at Post-traumatic Stress in Emergency Services from the Inside Out Once Upon a Crisis: A Look at Post-traumatic Stress in Emergency Services from the Inside Out
    Once Upon a Crisis: A Look at Post-traumatic Stress in Emergency Services from the Inside Out Once Upon a Crisis: A Look at Post-traumatic Stress in Emergency Services from the Inside Out
    Once Upon a Crisis: A Look at Post-traumatic Stress in Emergency Services from the Inside Out Once Upon a Crisis: A Look at Post-traumatic Stress in Emergency Services from the Inside Out

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