By Chrisanna Harrington, MA, RDN, LMHC
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a psychiatric disorder that is a direct consequence of experiencing trauma. Experiencing war, working in emergency response areas, sexual, emotional or physical abuse, a threat of death, even childhood neglect can cause changes in the brain. Also, if the traumatic event did not happen to you directly and you were a witness, you can experience PTSD. Traumatic events can make changes to the brain. In time post-trauma can change how the person interacts with themselves and others. In post trauma, one’s ability to be present becomes altered for themselves or others. Some people have a heightened sense of alertness or hyper-vigilance; other symptoms include intrusive memories, irritability/anger, or poor impulse control. PTSD and depression are linked. Often alcohol, drugs or food can offer temporary relief from intrusive thoughts or numb heightened emotions associated with PTSD.
At Psychiatric Associates of Southwest Florida, we are treating PTSD from a multidiscipline approach. When food becomes the go-to source for self-soothing, to calm the heightened emotions, it does two things. First, most foods that have the right amount of sugar, fat, and salt (known in the food industry as the “bliss point”) serve to fuel the brain into a false sense of well being; the second is that the expanded girth size can act as a physical buffer to keep people away. Clients who suffer from Binge Eating Disorder talk about the “food coma” or a place where they zone out from interacting with others. Or food can also become the vehicle for emotional interaction with self (eating in secret) or others (making all social events around copious amounts of food).
How do you treat such a complicated situation? The first step is getting the brain and body cleared from toxic substances, and this includes processed foods. Through medical nutrition therapy, provided by a Registered Dietitian, we can provide a personalized nutrition plan that will help the body to receive specific nutrients needed to promote a sense of wellness. We also have particular nutriceuticals, not sold over the counter, which will target the mitochondria of the cells to heal the gut (microbiome) and brain!
After the brain and body are functioning better, our therapists can use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to aide in changing behaviors that stem from PTSD. CBT works with the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and actions. For example, when negative thoughts, cause negative emotions, which then lead to isolating or problematic behaviors, CBT helps to reverse that cycle.
Since many of the medications used to treat PTSD have side effects that include weight gain and increased appetite, alternative therapies for treatment are available to work hand in hand with medical nutrition therapy and CBT. These treatments include non-invasive brain stimulation or Ketamine treatment as well as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and Theta Burst Stimulation (TBS). These treatments are safe non-pharmaceutical alternatives to treat PTSD and depression. You see PTSD and depression go hand in hand.
So, if you or someone you know suffers from PTSD, we offer a multidiscipline approach to get you back to being whole.
About Chrisanna Harrington, MA, RDN, LMHC
Chrisanna Harrington, MA, RDN, LMHC is a registered/licensed dietitian and a licensed mental health therapist. She practices in the area of treating trauma with associated Binge Eating Disorder.
We look forward to continuing to serve SW Florida in a compassionate and technologically sound manner.
About Dr. Robert Pollack
Robert W. Pollack, M.D. CEO is a Florida-licensed Board-Certified Psychiatrist. He has been in practice since 1977 and has served the public in many capacities. The American Psychiatric Association Board of Trustees, January 1, 2015, has granted him Life Fellow status.
At PASWFL, appointments are scheduled quickly, within one week of your call. For more information on SPRAVATO™ please visit his website at paswfl.com, or for more details about the office, call 239-332-4700.
6804 Porto Fino Cir #1, Fort Myers, FL 33912