What does this word mean to you? Does it trigger fear, anxiety, guilt, sadness? My best guess is everyone who reads this has a different response, and they may even be remembering a specific event. That’s normal. Everyone experiences trauma differently and everyone’s definition of trauma is different. This individuality is both a blessing and a curse when helping those who suffer from PTSD. The curse is there’s no “one size fits all” treatment. The blessing is there’s no “one size fits all” treatment. Understanding and empathizing with your unique perspectives is what enables us as medical practitioners to actually help.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where traumatic events happen far too often. These events may barely affect some people, while those same events can be crippling to others. Why is that? Everyone’s susceptibility to trauma to different. Age, gender, occupation, sexual identity, family history, and the severity and amount of traumatic events all play a part in susceptibility.
Let’s look specifically at a person’s susceptibility to developing post-traumatic stress disorder: a debilitating disorder that involves experiencing a traumatic event, re-experiencing that event, avoidance of anything that reminds them of that event, increased arousal symptoms, negative mood and cognitive symptoms, and symptoms of dissociation.
Children appear to be especially vulnerable to the effects of trauma. Specifically, we call these adverse childhood events (ACE’s). ACE’s can have lasting effect on a child’s physical and mental health development. ACE’s can include abuse, negligence, bullying, or any kind of violence. Adverse childhood events are strongly related to the development of a wide range of physical and mental health problems, including substance abuse.
Women are also more vulnerable to developing PTSD. In fact, women are twice as likely to develop PTSD than men. The exact reasoning behind this finding is not clear, but it is proposed that this may be due to women experiencing more high impact trauma than men. Some studies have suggested that women also have a more sensitized hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, indicating they react to stress in a different and more hyper-aroused way compared to men. We also see an increase in PTSD in bi-sexual and gay women when compared to heterosexual women.
The intensity and frequency of trauma can also increase a person’s susceptibility to developing PTSD. Specifically suffering from ongoing repeated trauma for a long period of time. For this reason, specific occupations can also increase a person’s susceptibility to developing PTSD such as war veterans, police officers, emergency medical technicians, and other healthcare professionals.
Even a family history of trauma can increase a person’s susceptibility. Studies done on the children and grandchildren of holocaust survivors showed that they had changes on the epigenetic level that increased their vulnerability to stress. To put it more simply, trauma changes your genetics in a way that gets passed down for generations. Does trauma really change base pairing in DNA? Or does family history of trauma change coping mechanisms and leads to development of learned behaviors?
The good news is, there is actually a treatment that works on decreasing a person’s susceptibility to trauma - even on the epigenetic level! That treatment is homeopathic medicine. In homeopathic treatment, we consider all symptoms of the patient, even old ones that might not still be present. This is because those symptoms are all signs of a person’s individual susceptibility. With correct homeopathic prescribing and treatment, we stimulate true healing in the body that rebalances and heals itself to the point where your vulnerability to disease is greatly reduced.