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Your Brain and PTSD: What Brain Mapping Reveals

If you’re experiencing Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) it may feel like your experience is purely psychological. From avoiding situations and people who remind you of the trauma you experienced to dealing with frequent nightmares, life might feel like a blur as you struggle to get out of your own head.

While PTSD is a mental health disorder that has a severe effect on your emotional and psychological state, it’s also physical. Prolonged trauma can change the structure of your brain, alter its chemistry, and rewire your neural communication system. While no two brains with PTSD are the same, brain mapping can show you and your doctor how PTSD has affected brainwave activity. This data is then used as a guide to reveal the areas of your brain that are functioning abnormally. With this data, we can make a MeRT (Magnetic eResonance Therapy) treatment plan to improve your brain functioning and help you heal from PTSD.

Curious how MeRT heals your brain? Watch our free webinar to learn how it works.

Brain Mapping: How PTSD Changes Your Brain

Trauma has a widespread effect on your brain, which is connected to the symptoms of PTSD. For a little bit of background before we dig deeper into MeRT, PTSD is a diagnosable mental health condition that develops after experiencing a traumatic event. While there are certain events that often cause PTSD, such as witnessing violent acts (e.g., fighting in a war), suffering from abuse, or experiencing a near-death experience, any event that was traumatic to someone can cause PTSD.

Most people experience some level of disruption following a traumatic event, but PTSD is diagnosed when issues last for at least one month after the event has passed. This disorder is also characterized by several symptoms:

  • Experiencing intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, and nightmares about the event
  • Feeling detached from other people and surroundings and/or avoiding reminders of the trauma (such as the place where it happened or an activity that led up to the event)
  • Being in a state of increased arousal, causing difficulties concentrating, irritability, insomnia, and jumpiness.

Living with PTSD essentially feels like you’re reliving your trauma even though the event has passed. It can be difficult to stay grounded and focus on your present life, and you may feel like you’re scared or anxious all the time.

These feelings can be connected to physical changes in your brain. While PTSD can cause widespread dysfunction, there are several major neurological changes that often occur:

  • Amygdala – Your amygdala is where your brain manages your emotions and helps you process potential threats and fearful stimuli. It also plays a role in helping you remember emotionally arousing experiences. PTSD causes your amygdala to become more active, increasing your fear response and making it difficult to regulate your emotions.
  • Hippocampus – The main purpose of your hippocampus is to store long-term memories. People with PTSD experience decreased function of their hippocampus and may even shrink it. This can make it difficult for people to remember critical aspects of traumatic events and is thought to play a role in causing avoidance behaviors.
  • Prefrontal Cortex: Your prefrontal cortex allows you to reason, make decisions, express your personality, and conduct high-level thinking. PTSD causes decreased function in the prefrontal cortex, affecting sleep, attention, rational thinking, emotions.

Brain mapping is used to look specifically at brainwave activity in different parts of the brain by looking at alpha, beta, theta, gamma, and delta waves with a quantitative EEG. When compared to a normal brain, people with PTSD often show brainwave disruptions in the brain’s frontal lobe. While this area should include a single strong alpha wave, PTSD often causes two competing alpha frequencies and slow rolling delta and theta waves.

However, it’s important to note that everyone’s brain is completely unique. This is why a brain map is so useful – it reveals your distinct brain activity and allows your doctor to get the full picture of what’s going on with your brain.

MeRT Therapy for PTSD: Healing Your Mind and Brain

Without being able to see the inner workings of your brain, it’s impossible to see how PTSD changes it physically. Your symptoms may seem disjointed from your brain’s physiology, and you may wonder why medication and/or therapy aren’t helping you get peaceful sleep at night, fight your brain fog, or feel yourself again.

Now, we’re not advocating that therapy has no benefit for helping people with PTSD and other mental health disorders. Treatments such as prolonged exposure therapy, cognitive processing therapy, present-centered therapy, and EMDR therapy can all help you process what happened to you, identify your triggers, and learn skills to help you change any negative thinking and behavior problems.

However, focusing only on the cognitive aspect while ignoring the physical issues trauma has on your brain only addresses half the issue. And although medication may help alleviate some of your symptoms, making you feel less anxious when you take it or allowing you to fall asleep at night, it doesn’t address the root cause of why you’re struggling.

MeRT is a cutting-edge treatment that uses data gathered from brain mapping to identify issues with your brain’s neurons and stimulate problem areas with targeted magnetic pulses. This therapy enhances the communication system of your brain without medication, surgery, or any other type of invasive process. And people often see results within only a couple weeks of treatment. 

By using your unique brain map, it’s possible to see signs of PTSD in your brain and target those areas, improving communication between neurons and allowing your brain to better process thoughts, memories, fear reactions, etc.

In one double-blinded randomized controlled trial by the Brain Treatment Center, patients who received MeRT for a four-week period saw a 62% reduction in PCL-M score (a metric used to detect symptoms of PTSD in military members) compared with patients not treated with MeRT.

Brain Mapping and MeRT at Tri-Cities Functional Medicine

At Tri-Cities Functional Medicine, we’ve always made it our priority to help people find true healing for chronic conditions that are disrupting their quality of life. From autoimmune disorders to hormonal imbalances, we know that band-aid solutions provide temporary results (if any).

Adding MeRT to our treatment offerings allows us to not only heal people’s bodies but their minds as well. MeRT is an effective treatment for PTSD, autism, TBIs, depression, anxiety, ADHD, and much more. And it helps people combat issues such as fatigue, brain fog, and chronic stress.

When you come see us for MeRT treatment, we follow a four-step process to help you heal your brain:

  1. We take a qEEG and EKG to map your brain and measure your heart-brain communication
  2. We analyze the results and create your tailored treatment plan
  3. We administer the protocol through magnetic stimulation for approximately four to six weeks
  4. We monitor your progress every step of the way, taking new qEEGs and making adjustments when needed.

While treatment for PTSD is not simple, MeRT can help you along this journey and help address issues with the neurophysiology of your brain. You deserve to discover true healing, and we’re here to help you restore brain function and get your life back.

Ready to heal your brain with MeRT? Take the first step:

  1. Watch our free MeRT webinar to learn about our approach to the brain health concerns you are facing.
  2. Schedule a Free Discovery Call to discuss your brain health concerns and goals to see if our practice is a good fit for you.
  3. After your discovery call – if we are a good fit, you’ll schedule a qEEG and consultation with our doctor to dive deeper and formulate an individualized treatment plan for you.

Tri-Cities Functional Medicine is located in Johnson City, Tennessee, and serves patients throughout East Tennessee and into Virginia and North Carolina. These areas include but are not limited to: Washington County, TN, Sullivan County, TN, Carter County, TN, Greene County, TN, Knox County, TN, Bristol, TN, Holston Valley, TN, Tri-Cities, TN, Walnut Hill, TN, Elizabethton, TN, Greeneville, TN, Morristown, TN, Blountville, TN, Bluff City, TN, Kingsport, TN, Jonesborough, TN, Colonial Heights, TN, Limestone, TN, Knoxville, TN, Bristol, VA, and Abingdon, VA.