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What Is PTSD?

What Is PTSD?
By stella
14th Feb 2022

Everything You Need To Know About PTSD

What does PTSD stand for? PTSD is an abbreviation for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

And what is PTSD? In the field of psychology, PTSD is thought to occur in response to experiencing a traumatic or stressful event that creates feelings of horror or helplessness. What most don’t know is that PTSD isn’t always caused by one big traumatic event. Years of cumulative trauma can cause PTSD as well. PTSD can last for months or years, and we can experience a range of physical and psychological symptoms – we’ll explore this a little later.

When we experience trauma, our body’s fight-or-flight response turns on, and sometimes it stays on long after the traumatic event. Many researchers agree that the amygdala (also known as the brain’s “fear center”) becomes overactivated after trauma, causing nerve growth.1 This nerve growth may prevent the fight-or-flight response from returning to a normal level. Brain imagery data suggests that trauma symptoms cause changes that are visible in the brain.2

How Common Is PTSD?

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was estimated that 6% of the U.S. adult population would struggle with trauma symptoms at some point in their lives.3 The additional burden of psychological trauma beginning in 2020 is hard to calculate. Not only has COVID-19 impacted our physical and mental health, but it’s also had serious repercussions on our jobs, access to basic resources, relationships, and more.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder vs. Post-Traumatic Stress Injury

A growing number of trauma experts have advocated to “drop the D” in PTSD. And as of 2015, the Pentagon, government officials, organizations, and advocates have stopped using “disorder” to describe Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS).4

Dropping the D in PTSD highlights the fact that PTS may, in fact, be an injury rather than a disorder.5

There are two key reasons why dropping “disorder” is important:

  1. “Disorder” connotes a sense of permanence which is misleading because PTS can be treated.
  2. “Disorder” has a stigma that can prevent those who need help from asking for it.

The language we use to describe human experiences matters. Words have the power to make us feel isolated and stuck or understood and empowered. That’s why, at Stella, we replaced “Disorder” with “Injury.” We encourage you to adopt the term Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI), too.

What Causes Post-Traumatic Stress Injury?

Traditionally, PTSI has been linked to events such as war, sexual assault, or natural disasters. But when we consider the definition of trauma – a deeply distressing or disturbing experience – it becomes clear that many events can be categorized as trauma. Think: workplace abuse, reproductive challenges, divorce, loss of a loved one, or a sports injury.

We also know that LGBTQ+ community members and/or ethnic minorities are often mistreated and/or oppressed. As a result, may experience traumas like bullying, physical violence or threat, and homelessness. These are the most common – but certainly not all – causes of PTSI today:

  • Adoption
  • Bullying or hazing
  • Childhood trauma or abuse
  • Childhood neglect
  • COVID-related trauma (e.g., hospitalization for COVID, post-COVID health challenges)
  • Combat and/or warfare
  • Death or injury of a loved one
  • Divorce
  • Domestic abuse
  • First responder trauma (for healthcare workers, EMTs, and LEOs)
  • Homelessness
  • LGBTQ+ trauma (e.g., harassment, rejection, identity crisis)
  • Loss of pregnancy
  • Natural disaster
  • Non-physical interpersonal abuse (e.g., emotional abuse by a narcissistic individual)
  • Personal health issues
  • Physical violence or threat
  • Political/ national refugee-related trauma
  • Racial trauma
  • Reproductive challenges/ infertility
  • Secondary PTSD
  • Sexual assault
  • Sports injury
  • Victim of crime by a stranger (e.g., mugging, break-in, robbery)
  • Witnessing a traumatic event
  • Workplace injury or job-related accident
  • Workplace abuse or loss

What Does Post-Traumatic Stress Injury Feel Like?

Anxiety is one of the most common symptoms following trauma exposures. While it’s normal to feel anxious from time to time, when we experience PTSI, anxiety often persists. We feel our worries and fears intensely. In addition to thinking about what could go wrong, we also experience a faster heart rate, heavy breathing, sweating, and feeling tired.

Intrusive thoughts, hypervigilance (or feeling constantly unsafe and on-edge), nightmares, flashbacks, and guilt can add to the sense of uneasiness we feel when experiencing trauma symptoms.

Depression is also common and is frequently identified through changes in mood. When we have PTSI and are depressed, we may withdraw from the activities that we used to take pleasure in. Sometimes this is because we struggle to enjoy ourselves and other times it may be to avoid a trigger.

While the symptoms often develop immediately after the trauma or stressful event, they must persist for more than 30 days to receive a diagnosis of PTSI. Before 30 days, the symptoms are classified as “Acute Stress Disorder.” While many mental healthcare resources highlight the 17 most common symptoms of trauma, there are actually more:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Crying spells
  • Depression
  • Dizzy spells
  • Flashbacks
  • Headaches
  • Hypervigilance
  • Nervousness
  • Nightmares
  • Obsessive-compulsive tendencies
  • Panic episodes
  • Paranoia
  • Problems with concentration or thinking
  • Problems with memory
  • Shakiness
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Substance abuse
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts

At Stella, we work with those who have experienced a wide range of traumas. With the right insights and the right support, healing is possible.

Post-Traumatic Stress Injury Treatments

Contrary to popular belief, symptoms of trauma can be treated. Pharmaceutical drugs and talk therapy are two of the most popular treatment options. Stella is ushering in breakthrough treatments for PTSI that can rapidly relieve the worst PTSI symptoms and lay the foundation for game-changing outcomes and long-lasting healing from trauma.

You can learn more about Treatment by Stella by attending our weekly webinar, SBG 101: A New Model for Trauma Treatment. Join us on Thursdays at 1pm PST/ 4pm EST to learn about what the Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) is, how it works, patient outcomes, and Stella’s approach to continued healing.

If you’re asking yourself “Do I have PTSD?”(which Stella refers to as PSTI) and think that you may be experiencing symptoms, take this PTSD test online. Or, contact our Patient Care Team directly by calling 1-866-497-9248 or emailing care@stellacenter.com.

  1. Eugene G.LipovaJaydeep R.JoshiaSarahSandersaKonstantin V.Slavinb A unifying theory linking the prolonged efficacy of the stellate ganglion block for the treatment of chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS), hot flashes, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306987709000413
  2. Alkire, M.T., Hollifield, M., Khoshsar, R., Nguyen, L., Alley, S. R., and Reist, C. (2015). Neuroimaging suggests that stellate ganglion block improves post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) through an amygdala mediated mechanism. Presented at the Anesthesiology Annual Meeting, October 24, 2015.
  3. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2018, September 13). How Common is PTSD in Adults? U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved February 2, 2022, from https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand/common/common_adults.asp
  4. Itkowitz, C. (2021, October 28). Dropping the ‘D’ in PTSD is becoming the norm in Washington. The Washington Post. Retrieved February 2, 2022, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2015/06/30/dropping-the-d-in-ptsd-is-becoming-the-norm/
  5. Ochberg, F. (2012). An injury, not a disorder. Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma. Retrieved 8/25/21 from: https://dartcenter.org/content/injury-not-disorder-0

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Do I Have PTSD?

Do I Have PTSD?
By stella
14th Feb 2022

*The following article refers to PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), whereas at Stella, we use the term PTSI (Post-Traumatic Stress Injury). We encourage you to adopt this language to break the stigma against Post-Traumatic Stress.  Read more about the shift from PTSD to PSTI here.

If you’re asking yourself, “Do I have PTSD?”, this is a great place to start. In this article, we answer the following questions: 

  1. How does trauma affect the brain? 
  2. What is PTSD? 
  3. How common is PTSD? 

We also share a free PTSD quiz and explain how to interpret the results to help evaluate each individual’s situation. 

While only mental healthcare professionals can provide a diagnosis, we can help explain the symptoms we may be experiencing in response to a traumatic event or ongoing stressors.

How Does Trauma Affect the Brain?

Did you know that the body’s fight-or-flight response turns on after traumatic or high-stress experiences? Whether it’s once or many times, these experiences can cause a biological brain injury where the fight-or-flight response gets stuck in overdrive. And this overactivation can cause debilitating physical and psychological symptoms. 

What Is PTSD? 

PTSD is a term mental healthcare professionals use to describe the trouble we have recovering after a traumatic or stressful experience. PTSD has been referred to as a disorder, yet many claim it’s an injury. Stella and others have suggested a new term – Post Traumatic Stress Injury (PSTI) – in place of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)1.

Most say there are 17 different symptoms following trauma exposure, however, there are more. Some of the most common symptoms include anxiety, problems with memory, depression, and headaches.

How Common Is PTSD? 

Trauma is a universal human truth. It may surprise you that 60% of men and 50% of women experience a trauma at least once in their lives.2 In fact, research suggests that only 2-11% of people experiencing trauma symptoms are actually diagnosed.3 

Despite how pervasive trauma is, we may not know how to identify symptoms following a traumatic event or ongoing stressors.

We only learn that we have trauma symptoms after researching the issues being had since the traumatic or stressful experience, confiding in a friend, or seeking a professional’s help.

It’s estimated that 50% of people experiencing trauma symptoms do not seek treatment.4 Stella exists to change that. We’re ushering in breakthrough treatments that are fast, effective, and research-backed.  

How Do I Know If I Have PTSD?

If you believe you’re experiencing symptoms, take this PTSD test online.

Stella uses an initial assessment tool known as the PCL. The PCL is a widely used self-report tool that helps gauge the severity of symptoms in response to trauma exposure. 

The PCL lists 20 problems that people often experience in response to trauma exposure. For example, “Are you avoiding memories, thoughts, or feelings related to the stressful experience?” and “Are you having trouble falling or staying asleep?” After reading each problem carefully, you’ll indicate how much you’ve been bothered by it in the last month on a scale of “Not at all” to “Extremely.” We understand that answering these questions can be difficult, but you are not alone.

After the PCL is complete, we’ll email the score directly. PCL scores range from 0 to 80 where higher scores suggest that you perceive the symptoms you experience as more severe. A PCL-5 score of 31 or higher suggests that it may be helpful for you to consider whether you may benefit from the Stellate Ganglion Block, ketamine infusion therapy, or other treatments.

Please know that a PCL score is not a diagnosis and that we encourage you to seek a professional assessment. 

If you already took the PTSD test and received a PCL score and want to learn more about treatment options, please contact Stella’s Patient Care Team directly by calling 1-866-497-9248 or emailing care@stellacenter.com to discuss your customized treatment plan. 

  1. Itkowitz, C. (2021, October 28). Dropping the ‘D’ in PTSD is becoming the norm in Washington. The Washington Post. Retrieved February 2, 2022, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2015/06/30/dropping-the-d-in-ptsd-is-becoming-the-norm/
  2. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2018, September 13). How Common is PTSD in Adults? U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved February 2, 2022, from https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand/common/common_adults.asp 
  3. Ellen C. Meltzer, MD MSc,1 Tali Averbuch, MPP,1 Jeffrey H. Samet, MD MA MPH,1,5 Richard Saitz, MD MPH,1,3,4 Khelda Jabbar, MD,6 Christine Lloyd-Travaglini, MPH,7 and Jane M. Liebschutz, MD MPH1,5 Discrepancy in diagnosis and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Treatment for the wrong reason https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3310322/
  4. Spoont, M, Arbisi, P., Fu, S., Greer, N., Kehle-Forbes, S., Meis, L., Rutks, R., & Wilt, T.J. (2013). Screening for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Primary Care: A Systematic Review [Internet]. Washington (DC): Department of Veterans Affairs (US). Available from: https://www.ncbi. nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK126691/ Spoont, et al., 2013.

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PTSD Signs and Symptoms

PTSD Signs and Symptoms
By stella
14th Feb 2022

The following article refers to PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), whereas at Stella, we use the term PTSI (Post-Traumatic Stress Injury). We encourage you to adopt this language to break the stigma against Post-Traumatic Stress.  Read more about the shift from PTSD to PSTI here.

Spotting the signs and symptoms of PTSD can be difficult. In fact, research suggests that only 2-11% of people experiencing trauma symptoms are actually diagnosed.1 This is one of the many reasons Stella is dedicated to the education of the impact of emotional trauma and the available treatment options. We strongly believe that demystifying the impact and treatment of trauma reduces stigma associated with PTSD.

While PTSD has been referred to as a disorder, many claim it’s an injury. Stella and others have suggested a new term – Post Traumatic Stress Injury (PSTI) – in place of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)2.

What Are the 17 Symptoms of PTSD?

Trauma can cause symptoms that diminish our capacity to experience warm and loving feelings from others (i.e., emotional numbness), which can lead to profound negative changes to our self-image and identity, and spark fears that often limit our enjoyment of pleasurable activities. When we have symptoms following trauma exposure, we may have the recurring feelings of helplessness and horror. We also commonly experience panic attacks, feelings of self-blame and shame, chronically disrupted sleep, and relationship conflicts with loved ones.

Read on to learn more about the 17 most common symptoms. 

Agitation

Agitation is a feeling of anxiety or nervous excitement. Like many symptoms experienced after trauma, agitation is understood on a spectrum. Words like restless, uneasy, and tense generally describe mild agitation. When we’re agitated, we may be fidgety or find it hard to sit still. Agitation can build to the point that we’ve become short-tempered or continually irritable. Untreated trauma can contribute to aggressive or harmful behavior toward ourself and/or others.

Nervousness and anxiety

It’s normal to worry about stressful situations (like a job interview or putting an offer in on a house) before they happen. But when we experience symptoms following trauma exposure, these nervous feelings are persistent and all-consuming to the point that they disrupt everyday life. Tense, worried thoughts often manifest physically. For example, when we’re exposed to trauma and experiencing anxiety, this might have an increased heart rate, breathe rapidly, sweat, or feel tired. 

Problems with concentration or thinking

The body’s fight-or-flight response turns on when we experience trauma or a very stressful event. And sometimes it stays on long after the traumatic event which can make us feel like we need to be on constant high alert. This, in turn, makes it challenging to concentrate or think clearly. 

Problems with memory

After experiencing trauma, the fight-or-flight response may become “stuck” in an over-activated state which causes nerve growth around the amygdala (also known as the brain’s “fear center”).3 The amygdala – along with the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex – plays a role in the brain’s ability to process stress and memory. Memory loss can also occur as a defense mechanism. 

Headaches

When the fight-or-flight response is triggered, the body releases cortisol and adrenaline – two hormones that help it respond to a threat. When we experience symptoms of trauma, our fight-or-flight response can become locked into a continually activated state, and, in this state, our bodies produce hormones which can impact the body’s nervous system, sometimes resulting in headaches4

Depression and crying spells

Depression negatively impacts how we think and feel about ourselves. It can also influence the way we behave. When we are exposed to trauma and experience depression, we may feel sad, lose interest in activities we enjoyed before their trauma, feel guilty and worthless or notice changes in our appetite. Depression can also cause increased fatigue and disrupted sleep – we might have trouble sleeping while others sleep too much. And at its worst, depression can lead to suicidal ideation.

Suicidal thoughts or attempts

We can be so overwhelmed by our symptoms that we sometimes consider harming themselves or suicide. When we’re experiencing trauma symptoms, we can also experience depression, panic attacks, anxiety, and substance abuse and are at higher risk for suicide. In fact, people diagnosed with trauma symptoms are 9.8 times more likely to die by suicide.5 

If you are thinking about suicide or need emotional support please text “HOME” to 741741 for free, 24/7 crisis counseling from Crisis Text Line. We want you to know that you are not alone and that there is hope. 

Mood swings

Trauma triggers and other common experiences like panic attacks and bursts of irritability can cause sudden mood changes following trauma exposure. While bi-polar disorder is a different condition, the mood swings that come with trauma exposure may sometimes be mistaken for bi-polar disorder, and in some cases, we may have both conditions. Working with a licensed clinician is the key to figuring out the right diagnosis.

Obsessive-compulsive tendencies

While being diagnosed with trauma symptoms and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) are different conditions, after we’re exposed to trauma, we may behave in ways that look similar to OCD. For example, we may check the locks on their doors several times before leaving the house in response to the hypervigilance that can come after a trauma. 

OCD and those diagnosed with trauma symptoms can both suffer from intrusive, disturbing thoughts. When we experience both conditions, we often feel a constant impending sense of doom or dread. 

Panic episodes

Feeling afraid is common when we’re exposed to trauma. When we are suddenly overwhelmed with intense fear, it could mean that we are experiencing a panic attack. Sometimes these episodes seem to come without warning or reason. Other times, they happen in response to a reminder of our trauma.  

During a panic attack, we may feel like we’re not in control of ourselves or afraid of dying. Chest pain, trembling, hot flashes or chills, a choking sensation, and other physical symptoms are commonly associated with panic attacks.

Paranoia

In reaction to traumatic or highly stressful events, we can become paranoid. Our belief that we are unsafe causes us to act highly guarded and suspicious of others. We adopt this way of thinking to protect ourselves from being harmed or harassed. 

Shakiness

Shakiness is related to many common trauma symptoms like agitation, nervousness, anxiety, panic episodes, and substance abuse. 

Substance abuse 

When we’re experiencing symptoms following trauma, we may use drugs and alcohol to cope as taking substances can temporarily reduce or numb the upsetting feelings we’re experiencing. 

Are There Other PTSD Symptoms?

Yes. Experiencing symptoms of trauma can also commonly include flashbacks, hypervigilance, nightmares, and sleep disturbances. 

Trauma affects us all differently. If you’re asking yourself “Do I have PTSD?” (which Stella refers to as PTSI) and think that you’re experiencing symptoms, take this PTSD test online. Or, contact our Patient Care Team directly by calling 1-866-497-9248 or emailing care@stellacenter.com. 

Treating Symptoms of PTSD with Stella

In recent years, the Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) has emerged as a promising treatment option for symptoms of trauma. Stella founders Dr. Eugene Lipov and Dr. Shauna Springer recently published a study with other trauma experts that indicates that the SGB is an effective treatment for trauma symptoms regardless of one’s gender, trauma type, PTSD-related medication use, history of suicide attempt, or age.6 

SGB by Stella has the potential to help millions of people with emotional trauma experience lasting relief. To learn more please visit our “How It Works” page.

  1. Ellen C. Meltzer, MD MSc,1 Tali Averbuch, MPP,1 Jeffrey H. Samet, MD MA MPH,1,5 Richard Saitz, MD MPH,1,3,4 Khelda Jabbar, MD,6 Christine Lloyd-Travaglini, MPH,7 and Jane M. Liebschutz, MD MPH1,5 Discrepancy in diagnosis and treatment of post-traumatic stress Itkowitz, C. (2021, October 28). Dropping the ‘D’ in PTSD is becoming the norm in Washington. The Washington Post. Retrieved February 2, 2022, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2015/06/30/dropping-the-d-in-ptsd-is-becoming-the-norm/
  2. disorder (PTSD): Treatment for the wrong reason https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3310322/
  3. Eugene G.LipovaJaydeep R.JoshiaSarahSandersaKonstantin V.Slavinb A unifying theory linking the prolonged efficacy of the stellate ganglion block for the treatment of chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS), hot flashes, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306987709000413
  4. B. Lee Peterlin DO,Gretchen E. Tietjen MD,Jan L. Brandes MD,Susan M. Rubin MD,Ellen Drexler MD,Jeffrey R. Lidicker MSc,Sarah Meng DO Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Migraine https://headachejournal.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1526-4610.2009.01368.x
  5. National Center for PTSD. PTSD and Death from Suicide. Retrieved 9/28/21 from https://www.ptsd.va.gov/publications/rq_docs/V28N4.pdf 
  6. Lipov, E. G., Jacobs, R., Springer, S., Candido, K. D., & Knezevic, N. N. (2022). Utility of Cervical Sympathetic Block in Treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Multiple Cohorts: A Retrospective Analysis. Pain Physician, 25(1), 77-85. Available from: https://www.painphysicianjournal.com/current/pdf?article=NzM5Nw%3D%3D
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How the Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) Can Augment Treatment Plans

How the Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) Can Augment Treatment Plans
By stella
13th Feb 2022

The following article refers to PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), whereas at Stella, we use the term PTSI (Post-Traumatic Stress Injury). We encourage you to adopt this language to break the stigma against Post-Traumatic Stress.  Read more about the shift from PTSD to PSTI here.

While sixty percent of men and fifty percent of women experience a trauma at least once in their lives the impact of trauma can vary greatly from person to person.1 That means that each healing journey is unique.

When we’re seeking relief from symptoms following trauma, many options come up: pharmaceutical drugs, exposure therapy, EMDR, insight-oriented therapy, RTM, yoga, mindfulness-based stress reduction… The list goes on.

For many, the formula for lasting relief combines biological and psychological interventions. Think ketamine infusion therapy plus group therapy or EMDR therapy plus daily meditation. 

The idea of researching all available treatments can be daunting. And deciding where to start our healing journey – or what to add to it – takes time and serious consideration. That’s where Stella comes in. 

In this article, we explain what the Stellate Ganglion Block by Stella is and how it can treat symptoms of PTSD (which Stella refers to as PTSI). We’ll also describe how we create a custom plan for each person we work with – because we don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach.

What Is The Stellate Ganglion Block?  

When we experience trauma, our body’s fight-or-flight response turns on and sometimes it stays on long after the traumatic event. Brain imagery data suggests that trauma symptoms cause changes that are visible in the brain.1 Dr. Eugene Lipov, Stella’s Chief Medical Officer, not only published the first case report exploring the use of SGB to proactively address trauma symptoms, but also published the first unified theory of how SGB works.

Dr. Lipov suggests that the local anesthetic temporarily “turns off” the Stellate Ganglion, which has been sending signals via nerve pathways to the amygdala, causing nerve growth.2 

The Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) is an injection of local anesthetic into the stellate ganglion – a bundle of nerves in the neck – that helps restore normal biological function and can efficiently relieve even the most severe trauma symptoms. This can stop the nerve growth that is occurring as well as eliminate or prune the extra nerve fibers that have been created, thereby resetting the amygdala to its pre-trauma state.2 

Stella continually refers to emerging research and practice standards and is committed to using the most innovative methods available across our nationwide network of care. Instead of using the standard SGB protocol, which was developed for pain, we provide a “Dual Sympathetic Reset” to give those we work with the best chance of achieving a positive outcome.

The Benefits of SGB by Stella

We do not require trauma histories.

Before procedures, our Patient Care Team simply needs to know what symptoms are being experienced. They collect this information with a short, online test called the PTSD Checklist (PCL). Next, the score is reviewed and additional background information is collected. We’ll then discuss symptoms in further detail to help determine whether SGB is the right treatment path.

Most are surprised to learn that SGB is an effective treatment option regardless of gender, trauma type, age, PTSD-related medication use, or history of suicide attempts.4 

SGB can accelerate the positive impact of existing treatments.    

Feel like we’ve hit a plateau or are too overwhelmed by trauma symptoms to attend therapy is common – and SGB may be able to help. After SGB, a sense of calm may be felt which allows for a new type of participation in therapy that may have felt impossible before.

SGB can be done at any point on a healing journey. 

Whether trauma was experienced months or decades ago, SGB may be a good treatment option.

SGB takes less than 20 minutes. 

The injection itself takes less than 20 minutes. On the day of the procedure, expect to spend several hours at the Treatment Center to allow time for check-in, Twilight Sedation (if desired), the SGB, and follow-up observation.

SGB is safe.

Who performs the Stellate Ganglion Block? Every Stella doctor is Board-Certified and is personally trained by Stella’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lipov in our proprietary SGB methodology. We also require our doctors to use image guidance for correct needle placement. 

Interested in learning what medication is used in a Stellate Ganglion Block? The local anesthetics Stella uses are Bupivacaine or Ropivacaine, both of which are FDA-approved.

Serious side effects are extremely rare.

Stella’s Clinical Approach

Stella takes a trauma-informed approach to treatment and communication. We recognize that we all experiences and processes trauma differently. Our Patient Care Team will meet you exactly where you are. We’ll provide all information needed to confidently make decisions about treatment. 

We respect the relationships had with mental health care providers, doctors, or other healers because they share the same goal as Stella: to help those experience symptoms find lasting relief. We’re committed to building a world where no one needlessly suffers from the symptoms of trauma. Pairing our breakthrough Stellate Ganglion Block procedure with treatments from other skilled providers gets us one step closer. 

PTSD Medications & SGB

Before scheduling the Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) treatment, a dedicated Patient Care Coordinator will review any medications actively being taking. Most prescription medications that treat symptoms of trauma do not interact with either of the local anesthetics – Bupivacaine or Ropivacaine – that Stella doctors use for SGB. 

After SGB, working with prescribing providers is recommended. They may decrease some medications or suggest taper off them altogether because the trauma symptoms are not as severe as they were before SGB. Others wish to stay on their medications. In all cases, we strongly encourage those who receive SGB to continue working with their prescribing providers to make the best decisions for their wellbeing.

Like many other medical procedures and surgeries, Stella requires that blood thinners are stopped in the days before the SGB procedure as they can cause problems. 

SGB & Other Therapies

The Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) is just one part of the healing journey. For when we feel out of control in our bodies or alone in a room full of people, SGB has the potential to restore a sense of calm and clarity we crave. And when paired with skilled therapy, SGB can be life-changing. Again, the best outcomes are often the result of combining biological and psychological interventions. 

Mental healthcare providers can help maximize and maintain SGB’s positive impacts. For example, when we aren’t distracted by our symptoms, it becomes easier to be fully present during therapy sessions and thus integrate takeaways into everyday life. 

We think that those who received SGB by Stella put it best:

“I’m not as fearful or panicked as I was, but I’m still working through my anxiety with my therapist. She has hope for me and feels like I have made a good leap in my process.” 

“I feel like [SGB] has been a HUGE turning point in my healing. It’s allowed me to start a spiritual 12-step program that requires intense vulnerability in a group setting. I can feel appropriate emotions but not get triggered by others’ trauma. This is a first.” 

If you’re a mental health care provider who is looking to join Stella’s mission to end the needless suffering caused by emotional trauma, please find more information about how to collaborate with Stella here

How To Learn More

Tune in to our monthly webinar Treating Trauma: The Stella Approach hosted by Stella co-founder and leading trauma expert Dr. Shauna Springer and Stella Patient Ambassador Paul Whitmer. This webinar deep dives into how the Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) addresses symptoms of emotional trauma.

You can also find more information on the “How SGB Works” page of our website. And if you’re looking for SGB treatments for PTSD (which Stella refers to as PTSI), explore Stella locations here.

  1. Alkire, M.T., Hollifield, M., Khoshsar, R., Nguyen, L., Alley, S. R., and Reist, C. (2015). Neuroimaging suggests that stellate ganglion block improves post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) through an amygdala mediated mechanism. Presented at the Anesthesiology Annual Meeting, October 24, 2015.
  2. Eugene G.LipovaJaydeep R.JoshiaSarahSandersaKonstantin V.Slavinb A unifying theory linking the prolonged efficacy of the stellate ganglion block for the treatment of chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS), hot flashes, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306987709000413
  3. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2018, September 13). How Common is PTSD in Adults? U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved February 2, 2022, from https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand/common/common_adults.asp 
  4. Lipov, E. G., Jacobs, R., Springer, S., Candido, K. D., & Knezevic, N. N. (2022). Utility of Cervical Sympathetic Block in Treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Multiple Cohorts: A Retrospective Analysis. Pain Physician, 25(1), 77-85. Available from: https://www.painphysicianjournal.com/current/pdf?article=NzM5Nw%3D%3D 
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3 Advantages of SGB and Ketamine Infusion Therapy

3 Advantages of SGB and Ketamine Infusion Therapy
By stella
13th Feb 2022

The following article refers to PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), whereas at Stella, we use the term PTSI (Post-Traumatic Stress Injury). We encourage you to adopt this language to break the stigma against Post-Traumatic Stress.  Read more about the shift from PTSD to PSTI here.

At Stella, we continue to innovate in trauma treatments like our lives depend on it – because they do.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was estimated that 6% of the U.S. adult population would struggle with symptoms following trauma exposure at some point in their lives, with 15 million suffering from trauma symptoms each year.1 At Stella, we believe the additional burden of psychological trauma beginning in 2020 is hard to calculate. 

In addition to this unprecedented health crisis, other factors –  a fight against systemic racism, intense political division, growing concerns about climate change, and economic uncertainty – created additional traumas and highly stressful experiences, which we know can cause PTSD (which Stella refers to as PTSI), anxiety, and depression.

Those seeking relief from trauma symptoms, anxiety, and depression deserve cutting-edge care. We believe in treatment plans that are practical, informed by modern neuroscience, and most of all, effective.

To help the people we treat achieve the best possible outcomes, we listen to each individual’s needs and collaborate with their support system of skilled mental health care providers, attentive doctors, empathetic healers, and compassionate family and friends. 

Treatment by Stella is just one aspect of the healing journey. We believe that when our biological interventions – like the Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) and/or ketamine infusion therapy – are paired with psychological interventions, the result can be life-changing. This is the new model of trauma treatment. And it’s what people in need of relief deserve. 

Stella is ushering in breakthrough treatments for trauma symptoms, anxiety, and depression. Our treatments are fast, effective, and research-backed. If you’re considering SGB or ketamine infusion therapy by Stella, here are some advantages.

1. Breaking Down The Barriers To Seek Treatment

One of the primary barriers to seeking trauma treatment is overcoming the stigma associated with it. Stigma is often used in mental health conversations therefore,  we feel it is important to define it for the purposes of this article.

stigma | ˈstiɡmə

a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person

Shame, disgrace, and dishonor also capture the idea of the stigma around mental health. 

The truth is that it’s ok to need help and to ask for it. This is why Stella exists. We’re relentlessly committed to the care of those experiencing trauma symptoms. We’ll listen to you so we can understand what you’re going through and learn how we may be able to help. We’ll never judge or make assumptions about you or your experiences.

So why is there a stigma associated with trauma, anxiety, and depression? Historically, experiencing these conditions – let alone seeking relief from them – was considered taboo. For this reason, we may have avoided or waited to seek treatment because we were worried about being treated differently or unfairly. 

Stigma is driven by a lack of information, myths, and fear. Misrepresentations of people diagnosed with trauma symptoms, anxiety, and depression add fuel to the fire. 

In addition to stigma, we may avoid seeking treatment because we think that it requires us to relive their trauma. At Stella, we’ll never ask about personal trauma histories. 

To determine who may be a good candidate for treatment, we simply need to know which symptoms are being experienced to understand the severity and we’ll complete a health review. We can collect this information through online forms or over the phone. This helps us confirm that SGB and/or ketamine infusion therapy is right for each unique individual.

2. SGB and Ketamine Infusion Therapy by Stella Are Effective 

Advances in neurobiological models of PTSD (which Stella refers to as PTSI) allow Stella to deploy effective treatments. We know that the greatest possible relief occurs when biological and psychological treatments are used together strategically. 

The American Journal of Psychology called ketamine infusion therapy “one of the most important breakthroughs in antidepressant treatment in decades.”2 Ketamine infusion therapy caused a paradigm shift in the treatment of major depressive disorder and treatment-resistant depression because it can decrease symptoms within hours instead of weeks or months. This finding is incredibly encouraging because when we’re struggling with depression, we might not be able to wait for relief. 

Research about SGB is equally compelling. Studies consistently indicate that it can reduce symptoms following trauma by 50% and that it’s particularly helpful in improving symptoms of irritability, surges of anger, difficulty concentrating, and trouble falling or staying asleep.3

When we are no longer overwhelmed by symptoms, we are much more willing and able to incorporate new learnings from therapy into our daily lives. We may also be able to discuss topics that before would have been too overwhelming. 

More than 83% of people who receive SGB by Stella experience relief from symptoms of trauma.4

3. Stella Customizes Your Treatment Plan

Stella will meet your needs before, during, and after treatment. 

Before Treatment

Our Patient Care Team will review symptoms and medical history to determine who is a good candidate for treatment. From there, we will customize a treatment plan. Depending on the symptoms, they may recommend SGB, ketamine infusion therapy, or both. 

On Treatment Day

Stella is committed to the principle of trauma-informed care with the goal of making the people in our care feel safe. We take common triggers and preferences into account so others don’t have to. 

After Treatment 

Stella provides the people we work with concierge-level access to a network of mental healthcare professionals which allows for further healing after SGB and/or ketamine infusion therapy. 

Our Patient Care Team will check in to measure symptoms and ensure we are providing proper follow care and resource.

After being treated by Stella, some may decide to schedule a follow-up SGB or additional ketamine infusion therapy sessions. Our Patient Care Team will thoroughly explain all options so an informed decision can be made. 

More on Ketamine Infusion Therapy by Stella 

Ketamine infusion therapy by Stella is administered by trained personnel under the direction of a Stella Board Certified Doctor who carefully monitors dosing and makes real-time adjustments as needed. Unlike other ketamine providers, we do not ask those in our care to participate in talk therapy during the infusion session. 

Most of the treatment locations allow people to bring their own music and a family member or friend. This allows them to set the tone of their infusion session. 

More on SGB by Stella 

In our article How the Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) Can Augment Treatment Plans we explain what SGB is, highlight its benefits, and discuss how it works in combination with therapy and/or medications. 

Ready To Kickstart Lasting Relief? 

A consultation could change everything. Contact our Patient Care Team directly by calling 1-866-497-9248 or emailing care@stellacenter.com

  1. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2018, September 13). How Common is PTSD in Adults? U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved February 2, 2022, from https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand/common/common_adults.asp 
  2. Newport, D. J., Carpenter, L. L., McDonald, W. M., Potash, J. B., Tohen, M., Nemeroff, C. B., & APA Council of Research Task Force on Novel Biomarkers and Treatments. (2015). Ketamine and other NMDA antagonists: early clinical trials and possible mechanisms in depression. American Journal of Psychiatry, 172(10), 950-966. Available from: https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.ajp.2015.15040465#B1 
  3. James H. Lynch. Stellate ganglion block treats posttraumatic stress: An example of precision mental health. 28 August 2020. From https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/brb3.1807
  4. Lipov, E., Ritchie, E.C. A Review of the Use of Stellate Ganglion Block in the Treatment of PTSD. Curr Psychiatry Rep 17, 63 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-015-0599-4. Available from: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11920-015-0599-4; Navaie, M., Keefe, M.S., Hickey, A.H., Mclay, R.N., Ritchie, E.C., & Abdi, S. (2014). Use of stellate ganglion block for refractory post-traumatic stress disorder: A review of published cases. Journal of Anesthesia and Clinical Research, 5(4), [1000403]. https://doi.org/10.4172/2155-6148.1000403
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A New Model For Care

A New Model For Care
By stella
13th Feb 2022

The following article refers to PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), whereas at Stella, we use the term PTSI (Post-Traumatic Stress Injury). We encourage you to adopt this language to break the stigma against Post-Traumatic Stress.  Read more about the shift from PTSD to PSTI here.

Connect Trauma Survivors With the Most Innovative and Effective Treatments

Are you searching for relief from symptoms of PTSD and feeling stuck? You’re not alone. While PTSD has been referred to as a disorder, many claim it’s an injury. Stella and others have suggested a new term – Post Traumatic Stress Injury (PSTI) – in place of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)1.

The traditional approach to treatment for people who have experienced trauma is a combination of trauma-focused psychotherapy and symptom-focused medications. While this is effective for some, it does not work for everyone. The good news is that there are additional options.

This article explores what it’s like to pursue traditional options compared to how Stella connects those experiencing trauma symptoms with the most innovative and effective treatments. 

Life After Trauma

Did you know that sixty percent of men and fifty percent of women experience trauma at least once in their lives?2 Some experience a trauma once, and others experience multiple traumas over the course of a lifetime. From natural disasters to sports injury to combat to childhood abuse, there are many different types of trauma.  

In fact, research suggests that only 2-11% of those experiencing trauma symptoms are actually diagnosed.3 And no two experiences are exactly the same. When we experience symptoms of trauma, we can feel agitated, depressed, dizzy, confused, and more. These symptoms can be overwhelming and get in the way of everyday life. 

Overcoming Barriers to Treatment 

Once we’re diagnosed with trauma symptoms and seeking treatment, we must overcome the stigma associated with mental health, research treatment options, and find a trustworthy provider. This process can be challenging. For many, it’s emotional, time-consuming, and exhausting. 

Many treatment options require a formal diagnosis. To receive one, we must speak to a mental health professional about our trauma history and the symptoms we are experiencing. Sharing this information with a stranger can be incredibly difficult. 

Traditional PTSD Treatments 

Talk Therapy

Talk therapy requires us to continuously confront our trauma. For many, this is asking too much. 

Medication

Medications can reduce symptoms following trauma exposure. But some of us are not willing to take medications due to their high cost, side effects, or risk of dependency. 

The Need To Innovate on Traditional Treatments

We may not experience relief immediately after we start talk therapy and/or taking medication. The time it takes to experience relief after beginning a new treatment plan varies from person to person. But what is true for all of us is that working toward a meaningful improvement requires commitment, patience, and self-compassion. 

While there are many medications that can effectively treat symptoms following trauma exposure, around 20-30% of people who start taking medication stop.4 

20-25% of people diagnosed with trauma symptoms self-medicate with alcohol and drugs.5

There are many talk therapies developed specifically for trauma, including Cognitive Processing Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Stress Inoculation Training, Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB), and ketamine infusion therapy. In addition, the past decade has seen the growth of new biological treatment options like Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB), and ketamine infusion therapy.

A New Model of Care

At Stella, we continue to innovate like our lives depend on it – because they do.

We’re built on an entirely new understanding of trauma treatment. Stella believes in the fusion of biological, psychological, and mind-body practices. 

Stella simplifies the healing journey. Our Patient Care Team will review symptoms and medical histories to determine if the Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) or ketamine infusion therapy – two cutting-edge treatments that are fast, effective, and research-backed – is the right treatment plan.

You are our priority before, during, and after your treatment. Our Patient Care Team will periodically follow up with you to track your progress and ensure that you have the resources you need. We can also assist you in finding a Stella preferred mental healthcare provider in your area.

Stella is a team of medical doctors, psychologists, Patient Care Coordinators, and tireless advocates who are committed to your healing. If you’d like to learn more about SGB and ketamine infusion therapy, contact our Patient Care Team directly by calling 1-866-497-9248 or emailing care@stellacenter.com. 

  1. Itkowitz, C. (2021, October 28). Dropping the ‘D’ in PTSD is becoming the norm in Washington. The Washington Post. Retrieved February 2, 2022, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2015/06/30/dropping-the-d-in-ptsd-is-becoming-the-norm/
  2. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2018, September 13). How Common is PTSD in Adults? U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved February 2, 2022, from https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand/common/common_adults.asp 
  3. Ellen C. Meltzer, MD MSc,1 Tali Averbuch, MPP,1 Jeffrey H. Samet, MD MA MPH,1,5 Richard Saitz, MD MPH,1,3,4 Khelda Jabbar, MD,6 Christine Lloyd-Travaglini, MPH,7 and Jane M. Liebschutz, MD MPH1,5 Discrepancy in diagnosis and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Treatment for the wrong reason https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3310322/Spoont, M, Arbisi, P., Fu, S., Greer, N., Kehle-Forbes, S., Meis, L., Rutks, R., & Wilt, T.J. (2013). Screening for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Primary Care: A Systematic Review [Internet]. Washington (DC): Department of Veterans Affairs (US). Available from: https://www.ncbi. nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK126691/ 
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7 Ways To Take Care of Yourself or Others Before and After SGB

7 Ways To Take Care of Yourself or Others Before and After SGB
By stella
13th Feb 2022

The following article refers to PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), whereas at Stella, we use the term PTSI (Post-Traumatic Stress Injury). We encourage you to adopt this language to break the stigma against Post-Traumatic Stress.  Read more about the shift from PTSD to PSTI here.

Are you in the process of scheduling your Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) or do you already have a treatment time on the books? While SGB is only a 20-minute procedure, Stella is committed to you before, during, and after treatment.

Below are 7 ways to take care of yourself or someone you care about before and after SGB.  

#1: Make a Plan

Clear your schedule for the day of and day after your SGB. Plan to take off work and organize a support system to temporarily manage your responsibilities (child care, errands, household chores, etc.).

Pick a close family member or friend to accompany you to your SGB treatment. Think of them as your healing companion – someone who will support and care for you on the day of your SGB. 

If you plan on updating your close friends and family about your treatment, we suggest that you set communication expectations with them beforehand. Explain that you will share a quick update immediately after your SGB procedure followed by more details the next day. This can help you “unplug” and focus on resting.

#2: Sleep

Take a long nap after you leave the Stella treatment location. Sleep allows your body to heal and feel calm. Many patients find it helpful to turn off their cell phones while resting.

#3: Eat and Hydrate

Plan a good meal with your healing companion so you can have an enjoyable and stress-free experience.

Tips: 

  • Before you eat or drink, ensure that you can swallow normally. Nearly half of the people Stella treats experience hoarseness or trouble swallowing that resolves within 24 hours of the procedure.
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol.  In the 12-24 hours after your procedure, your body and brain will “re-establish” their connection. Psychoactive substances influence the sympathetic nervous system and can interfere with this process. 

#4: Listen to Your Body

Some people feel energized after SGB, and others feel tired. Both reactions are normal!

If the mood strikes, you can take a walk or do light exercise. However, you should wait 24 hours before doing intense exercise. You can resume normal activities two days after your treatment.

#5: Note Changes in Your Symptoms 

You may not feel a difference in your symptoms at first but those close to you might notice changes in your behavior. Ask a trusted family member or friend to take inventory of how you’ve changed and have them share their observations with you. You may need to encounter stressful situations before realizing that your response to them is different.

#6:  Create New, Healthy Habits

Make mindfulness, meditation, yoga, and/or regular exercise part of your daily life. These activities can keep your brain and body working in harmony. 

The desire to smoke, drink, and/or use other substances may change after SGB. Some people that Stella treats report decreased interest in or need to use substances. For many, this change can make it easier to examine substance use habits.

#7: Partner With a Mental Health Provider 

After SGB, people feel a new sense of calm that can accelerate the positive impact of existing therapies (e.g., talk therapy, EMDR, CBT, DBT, etc.). If you already have a mental healthcare provider, we suggest that you continue working with them to further your healing.

If you do not have a mental healthcare provider, Stella may be able to refer you to one. Contact your Patient Care Coordinator for more information.

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In The Press: A PTSD Treatment Hiding In Plain Sight

In The Press: A PTSD Treatment Hiding In Plain Sight
By stella
11th Feb 2022

The following article refers to PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), whereas at Stella, we use the term PTSI (Post-Traumatic Stress Injury). We encourage you to adopt this language to break the stigma against Post-Traumatic Stress.  Read more about the shift from PTSD to PSTI here.

Martinez didn’t want to medicate, which led him to the 20-minute SGB treatment.

Retired Marine Gunnery Sergeant Nelson Martine wants to honor his fallen brothers by healing himself.

“It’s both revolutionary and one of the most promising things I’ve seen to treat trauma symptoms, and it’s been hiding in plain sight,” said Stella co-founder and leading trauma expert Dr. Shauna Springer.

“When this medication is injected, it seems to bring the over-activated fight-or-flight response back to a state of calm.” Dr. Springer says, combined with mental health therapy, the injections show success in more than 75% of patients.

After treatment, Martinez’s thoughts feel clearer. Now, he’s able to focus on things one at a time instead of everything racing through his head at once.

Watch the full segment here.

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