How Different Brain Activity Can Influence a PTSD Response 

How Different Brain Activity Can Influence a PTSD Response 

How Different Brain Activity Can Influence a PTSD Response  150 150 Aware Behavioral Health

Post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a response that can develop after a person lives through a life threatening or other harrowing situation. It is commonly seen in veterans, car crash survivors, survivors of natural disasters, and those who have lived through abuse. PTSD can cause anxiety symptoms, panic attacks, and cause survivors to feel like they are reliving past experiences.

But not everyone who goes through a life threatening situation will develop PTSD afterward. People may also develop PTSD in some cases but not in others. Scientists are continually studying the relation between traumatic experiences and who develops PTSD to be better able to understand which people are most at risk in order to deliver more effective help. Recently researchers have completed a study that might provide new insight into how different kinds of brain activity might correspond with the eventual development of PTSD after a traumatic experience. 

Natural Brain Responses and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder 

A recent PTSD study worked with patients in the emergency room who had been through a car accident or another traumatic event and looked at brain activity via an MRI in the weeks following. The researchers used three different stimuli – a reward, a threat, and a trigger that required the person to inhibit their response – and tracked brain activity in response to each.

The four different combinations of activity in response to these different stimuli included:

  • Increased activity for the threat and reward, but limited activity for inhibition.
  • Low activity for reward and threat, but some activity for inhibition.
  • High activity for the reward stimuli, but none for the threat and inhibition.
  • High activity for the threat stimuli, but little for the reward and inhibition.

Researchers also tracked which of the subjects reported symptoms of PTSD in the following 6 months after the traumatic event.

The study found that those who experienced the first type of reaction, displaying heightened activity in response to both threats and rewards, were more likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic event that resulted in an emergency room visit.

These results indicate could indicate that those who are naturally more reactive to stimuli could be at a greater risk for developing PTSD when going through a threatening event. These results can be beneficial in predicting how one might respond post trauma, but they are still a generalization rather than a guarantee of your response and anyone has the potential for experiencing post traumatic stress disorder after a harrowing experience.

At Aware Behavioral Health, Dr. Sehdev works with patients who are living with PTSD to help relieve symptoms of anxiety and panic using a combination of medication assisted treatment, talk therapy, and other solutions. We can help you gain control of the symptoms of PTSD and make them less overwhelming, or remove them altogether. We also work with you to process traumatic events and give you the tools to recover from a frightening experience or better understand how you developed PTSD. Set up an appointment with a Dallas psychiatrist by sending us a message.

Dallas Psychiatrist Dr. Surin Sehdev

Dr. Surin Sehdev is the lead psychiatrist at Aware Behavioral Health in Dallas (formerly Bedford, TX). He has been working in the psychiatric field for 7+ years. He specializes in opioid withdrawal, ADHD, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and sexual dysfunction. Content on this blog and this website should be considered informal and should not be considered medical advice, as may be written and/or edited by non-medical staff. Please contact Dr. Sehdev for specific and accurate diagnoses and treatment information.

All stories by : Dallas Psychiatrist Dr. Surin Sehdev