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We’ve known for a long time that traumatic experience alters people’s brains, but not exactly where and what the alterations are.
One of today’s leading experts in trauma and PTSD is Bessel van der Kolk, MD. His research gives us a better understanding of the specific ways trauma changes brains.
According to van der Kolk, there are three significant ways the brain alters in response to a trauma:
It is easy to see how some of the symptoms and behaviors associated with PTSD - being easily startled, feeling on edge, emotional numbness, social avoidance, hyper-vigilance, and frightening thoughts - reflect the brain changes van der Kolk discovered.
Van der Kolk and other researchers hope that knowing specifically how our brain reacts to trauma will lead to more effective PTSD treatment interventions.
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