Fear is a natural emotion and everyone may feel this emotion. Especially, when there are dangers, we may have fears. But, psychologists have found out that even fear for a brief period may cause several changes in our body. These changes are for preparing us for defending ourselves from the dangers or avoiding them. According to these experts, this response of the body to fear is a healthy one. But, for those who have been affected by PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder, the response may be different. These people may have anxiety issues and stress or may experience fear even in the absence of dangers.
One of the factors that may cause PTSD may be some terrifying ordeal that may involve a physical harm. Even if there is a threat of a physical harm, it may trigger this problem. It is not necessary that the person who has been affected should have been physically harmed. PTSD may result even if the person’s loved ones have been harmed or even if the affected person has been an eye-witness to a harmful or dreadful event involving strangers or their loved ones.
Usual Causes For PTSD
Experts and psychologists who are doing research on PTSD and anxiety issues have started to believe that genes play a vital role in PTSD. According to them, genes can trigger fear memories. They say that their studies have revealed that Stathmin, a protein, can trigger fear memories.
These experts add that GRP or gastrin-releasing-peptide, a brain chemical is secreted when emotional or traumatic events occur. This chemical can also trigger fear memories. They have stumbled upon a new version of a gene called the 5-HTTLPR, that can control secretion of Serotonin, “the mood chemical” in the brain. Simply put, psychologists are of the opinion that several genes can contribute in small measures to PTSD and ultimately anxiety issues.
Areas Of Brain
Amygdala, a brain structure, has been found to play a role in emotions, in learning and also in creating memories. When this brain area is active, fear acquisition or the learning process for fearing events may be triggered. For example, it is this brain area that helps people learn that if they touch a stove, there may be burns. The same Amygdala can help people even in fear extinction.
Likewise, storage of extinction memories and also dampening of the original fear-responses seem to be controlled by PFC or Prefrontal Cortex, that is another brain area. This helps in the decision making and problem solving processes of the human brain. Psychologists who deal with anxiety issues use the technique of suppressing the amygdala to control stress. They also use the ventromedial PFC for sustaining extinction of fear memories on a long term basis.
Other causes of PTSD may be childhood trauma, an injury on the head, family history, etc.
Researches are continuing to find out ways to predict if a traumatic event will trigger PTSD or not. They mainly focus on studying the various signs as well as symptoms of PTSD. Symptoms like rapid heart-beats, excessive perspiration, bad dreams, reliving the traumatic experiences, having frightening thoughts are being studied by these researchers. In some of the affected persons, there may be avoidance behaviors and hyper-arousal symptoms also.
The aim of researches on PTSD and anxiety issues is to educate people who have been affected to adjust themselves mentally to the traumas that may have happened in their lives. They must be made to learn the good effects of optimism and positive thinking also so that they can get over their anxiety issues.