Trigger warning: this blog post talks about difficult content.
If your nervous system feels particularly fragile at this time, we recommend you stop reading this blog post.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health or psychiatric disorder that is triggered by witnessing, experiencing, or learning of a dangerous, harmful, or painful event.
Many people will recover from these types of trauma, but PTSD occurs when people continue to experience a variety of symptoms that impact their ability to function in their relationships and their daily life.
Examples of traumatic situations can include things like the sudden death of a loved one, rape or other forms of sexual assault, a serious accident, a serious health problem, natural disasters, war, abuse or harassment, or other events that are perceived as dangerous.
People with PTSD will continue to feel that they are in danger, even when they are safe. The body’s nervous system has become dysregulated so that it is always in a chronic defensive state; this influences the individual’s state of health. (1)
According to the National Centre for PTSD, about 6 out of 100 people in the United States will have PTSD during their lifetime.
Seen another way: if you have 100 women in a room, 8 of them will have PTSD at some point in their lifetime. If you have 100 men in a room, 4 of them will be diagnosed with PTSD. (2)
What does PTSD look like?
Signs of PTSD include: - Flashbacks of the traumatic event - Nightmares - Avoidance of things that remind you of the traumatic event
- Difficulty sleeping - Angry outbursts - Not participating in activities you previously enjoyed - Persistent feelings of anger, shame or fear - Self-destructive behaviours
Comorbidities (meaning where PTSD can exist alongside another diagnosis with potential mast cell involvement):
Would it surprise you to know that all of these have mast cell involvement?
PTSD and Mast Cell Connection
After a traumatic or stressful event, the sympathetic nervous system is activated. In the case of PTSD, it is chronically activated. Your nervous system uses nerves to communicate messages throughout the body, and these nerves will signal this state of chronic activation, telling the rest of the body that it is not safe.
Nerves and mast cells talk to one another. (8) This “cross-talk” means that the message of danger is communicated to mast cells, telling them to be hyper-vigilant. When mast cells continually get this message, they will also become dysregulated, and research supports this with PTSD. (9)
Could trauma be at the root of your PTSD and MCAS?
If you are struggling with MCAS and PTSD, it is worth exploring treatment options to address the trauma. Trauma can also be intergenerational (10) . This means that you may have inherited your parents', grandparents', or great-grandparents' trauma -- it may be a contributing factor to all you are having to handle right now.
Find help today, so that your nervous system can get the retraining it needs to feel safe. Ask your primary health care provider and a trusted family or friend to help you find the mental health support it is you need.
Once your nervous system starts to communicate safety to your mast cells, your mast cells will become more regulated. As you start to work on supporting the mental health aspect of PTSD, there is a good possibility that you may now start to see a reduction in your mast cell mediated symptoms.
This is what is meant by getting at the root of it all.
* This blog post is only for information purposes. We are not diagnosing.
Curious to make that histamine connection, especially when PTSD is in the picture?
Join us at our upcoming free online event - where we'll dive in to what's happening in the body here, and start in on practical ways to help reduce potential histamine-mediated symptoms. We call it The Histamine Connection - to help you connect the dots so you can know how to move forward.
Thursday September 29th, 7pm MDT / Alberta / Santa Fe time. Replay available if you can't join us live.