Get Smart about Nutrition™

Submitted by Matt Tomasino on Mon, 11/30/2015 - 19:12

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the slow manifestation of often debilitating psychological effects as a result of the brain’s release of a suppressed response to a traumatic event.

According to the US Department of Veteran Affairs, PTSD can or has been caused by experiencing situations such as,

“…war, torture, rape, the Nazi Holocaust, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, natural disasters (such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and volcano eruptions), and human-made disasters (such as factory explosions, airplane crashes, and automobile accidents).”

This condition has been linked to a variety of scenarios such as those mentioned above but can also be expanded to those who have experienced more intimate versions of trauma which may include childhood sexual and/or physical abuse, psychological manipulation - particularly within a close relationship, kidnapping, or even the debilitating effects of forging through procedures to fight a serious illness.

Also on the front lines of potentially developing PTSD are first responders such as those in law enforcement, firefighting and emergency medical services.

The University of Maryland Medical Center describes symptoms of PTSD as:

- Intrusive thoughts recalling the traumatic event
- Nightmares
- Flashbacks
- Efforts to avoid feelings and thoughts that remind you of the traumatic event
- Feeling detached or unable to connect with loved ones
- Depression, hopelessness
- Feelings of guilt (from the false belief that you were responsible for the traumatic incident)
- Irritability or angry outbursts
- Hyper vigilance (being overly aware of possible danger)
- Headache
- Disrupted sleep, insomnia
- Hypersensitivity, including at least two of the following reactions: trouble sleeping, being angry, having difficulty concentrating, startling easily, having a physical reaction (rapid heart rate or breathing, increase in blood pressure)

Dealing with these symptoms can be challenging to say the least, however not many practitioners have linked the relationship between PTSD and food.

This is a grand opportunity inasmuch that specific foods more often than not have a deep, lasting effect on healthy individuals let alone those struggling with PTSD.

PTSD Induced Addictive Eating Disorders
Stress eating is a valid condition that is now diagnosed as Binge Eating Disorder or BED. However, because PTSD afflicts more women than men this disorder has arisen in a large subgroup of female PTSD sufferers. Therefore, food becomes synonymous with any drug of choice such as heroin, cocaine, marijuana and alcohol, common vices for those trying to tamp down the continuing effects of PTSD.

In a combined study by researchers from Harvard Medical School, Columbia University and Women's Health and Gender Biology, Brigham and Women's Hospital published in JAMA Psychiatry, it was concluded that,

“Symptoms of PTSD were associated with increased food addiction prevalence in this cohort of women. Strategies to reduce obesity associated with PTSD may require psychological and behavioral interventions that address dependence on food and/or use of food to cope with distress.”

It is important for those with PTSD to recognize possible food addiction. Because food is not a drug it is easy to assume that one is just gaining weight when in reality they are using food as a cry for help.


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