Let’s Talk About How We Talk About Trauma
The world of mental health can be extraordinarily confusing and challenging to navigate. When it comes to trauma, it becomes even more difficult.
What is trauma and how do we know if we’ve experienced it? What do the symptoms look like and how does one find the proper treatment? The language being used is new to most of us and there is a lot to grasp. Most of the time, many of us are left with more questions than answers. The lack of education can make things muddled, and we may not fully understand all the talk surrounding trauma.
So basically, where does one begin?
Sometimes, the best way to understand trauma is to just dive into the conversation. There is no playbook, or one size fits all approach to the terminology used but seeing or hearing these words can help us recognize where we may need to learn more. Some words and phrases may hold more weight than others, especially when talking about recovery.
As the awareness grows, so must the understanding of the language. Stella is here to help guide you through your following conversation about trauma.
It’s no surprise that “trauma” comes up a lot in our conversations. It has entered the lexicon of everyday discussions everywhere. We often hear people use “that’s traumatizing” when discussing things that many would not describe as traumatizing in current culture. But the word has many different shapes, sizes, and variations that it becomes necessary to explain, like physical vs emotional traumas. In one of our previous blogs about trauma response, we address the family tree of trauma. There are three different types: acute, chronic, and complex – each with its own definition.
People may also often use the word to refer to their unique traumatic experiences. Examples include accidents, the death of a loved one, disasters, bullying, sexual assault, abuse, racism, violence, poverty, gaslighting, sexism, toxic relationships, and COVID-19.
Let’s take a look at the three different types of trauma humans experience:
Trauma is a deeply distressing or disturbing experience such as an accident, rape, or natural disaster. Reactions such as shock and denial are typical.
Physical trauma is a serious injury to the body. The two main types of physical trauma are blunt force trauma and penetrating trauma.
Emotional trauma results from events or experiences that leave us feeling profoundly unsafe and often helpless.
What’s the Difference Between Trauma Symptoms and a Trauma Response?
Experiencing trauma and post-traumatic stress can lead to changes in physical and emotional states and sometimes may not appear for years leading to an unknown or untreated diagnosis. Some of the most common language you will see is about trauma symptoms and the response we have to the traumas themselves.
Trauma symptoms can be flashbacks, nightmares, trouble sleeping, addiction, severe anxiety or depression, and uncontrollable thoughts about the event. Symptoms can vary over time or vary from person to person. You can read more about trauma symptoms here.
Trauma Response is the unconscious response style we can develop in the wake of untreated trauma that shifts our previous way of relating to others or our situations.
Trauma can change our personalities. Its response patterns reflect what trauma has taught us and how we apply these lessons to increase our feeling of being safe. However, trauma also changes our sense of identity and our relationships over time and may themselves cause additional loss and further trauma in our lives.
What’s The Difference Between PTSD, PTS, and PTSI?
Stella is leading the way in innovative and effective treatments for post-traumatic stress. To do that, we needed to approach post-traumatic stress in a few different ways. Stella approaches post-traumatic stress as an injury to the brain rather than a disorder.
The most commonly used term is PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, which is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event.
PTS or post-traumatic stress is used in the transition when moving away from the use of PTSD and to PTSI.
PTSI, or post-traumatic stress injury, refers to the same set of symptoms as PTSD. However, while PTSD refers to a psychiatric disorder, the PTSI definition refers to a biological injury. Experts believe that dropping the D will help reduce the stigmas around PTSD and encourage those in need of treatment to seek out help.
PTSD is most commonly treated with various types of psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy, and biological interventions. At Stella, we believe that the most successful outcomes are when multiple modalities work together to treat the cause and symptoms of each individual’s emotional trauma.
Let’s explore the differences between treatments.
Psychotherapies, which are also referred to as psychological therapy or talk therapy, are sessions between a patient and mental health professionals with the aim to improve an individual’s well-being and mental health. Most commonly for trauma symptoms, sessions focus on problem-solving and exploring the why behind our responses, behaviors, beliefs, emotions, and so on.
The use of pharmaceutical drugs for trauma treatment is referred to as Pharmacotherapies. Prescriptions for Antidepressants of the SSRI or SNRI type are currently the first-line medications used for PTSD.
Biological Interventions are a form of treatment that targets the symptoms of biological injury caused by emotionally traumatic or acutely stressful experience(s). Biological interventions attempt to restore healthy physiological functioning through a focus on body systems such as nerve transmission processes, neurophysiology, neuroanatomy, and so on.
Biological treatments for PTSD involve treating the physical source of the symptoms as an attempt to restore healthy physiological function through precision medicine approaches focused on body systems, like the Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB).
SGB is a promising treatment option for trauma symptoms, and Stella is leading the charge. Though the innovative treatment may be relatively new for some, the procedure itself has been around for a century. However, it wasn’t until the last two decades that Stella’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Lipov, discovered its impact on those experiencing PTS.
What is Stellate Ganglion Block?
The Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) is a biological intervention that targets the sympathetic nervous system to treat the physical source of PTSD symptoms through an injection of local anesthetic into a bundle of nerves in the neck connected to the sympathetic nervous system that helps restore normal biological function through precision medicine.
What’s the difference between SGB for pain and SGB for PTSD?
Before it was discovered that SGB could be an effective treatment for post-traumatic stress, it was found a century ago that it may relieve pain and perhaps determine the source of your pain. Blocking of the nerves interrupts the positive feedback circuit and decreases persistent pain. Doctors may often recommend a series of these blocks a couple of weeks apart which may help give you longer-term relief. And many doctors will often use medications with steroids.
In 2006, Dr. Lipov found that SGB was an effective treatment for post-traumatic stress. When the local anesthetic injections into a bundle of nerves in the neck, it can eliminate the nerve growth causing the PTS and efficiently relieve even the most severe trauma symptoms.
When pairing biological interventions with psychological interventions, the result can be life-changing.
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 gender, trauma type, PTSD-related medication use, or history of suicide attempt, or age.6
What makes Stella’s SGB treatment different from others?
Widely considered the Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) pioneer for PTSD, Dr. Eugene Lipov, Stella’s Chief Medical Officer, is a Board Certified anesthesiologist and pain, management physician. Fifteen years ago, he discovered that SGB could “reset” the nervous system to its pre-trauma state.
SGB was originally developed as a single injection.
After researching and testing many ways of administering SGB for PTSD treatment, Dr. Lipov found that two injections – known as the Dual Sympathetic Reset (DSR) – yield the best results. The injections are given back to back into the C6 and C4 through the use of image guidance technologies.
Each Stella Certified MD receives treatment guidance and recommendations by Dr. Lipov in Stella’s proprietary Duel Sympathetic Reset methodology. We also require that each doctor meet the Stella Standard of Care and remain in good standing based on monthly outcome audits.
As the Community Grows
The dialogue around trauma will continue to grow, and organizations like Stella are prepared to adapt as quickly and effectively as possible. The most important thing, keep the conversation going. Talking about trauma is not the same as treating it, but it can lead those experiencing it, knowingly or unknowingly, to the care they deserve. Beginning with the basic knowledge, we can build a trauma-informed community guided towards treatment options like the Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) by Stella.
Call (866) 964-3485 to learn more or schedule your procedure with a member of our Patient Care Team.