By now, many of us have learned how trauma affects both short term and long-term health per the Adverse Childhood Experiences study (http://aceresponse.org/who_we_are/ACE_Study_43_pg.htm). Trauma is stress and traumatic stress causes a fight-flight response in our nervous system. The amygdala, the survival, red alert part of the brain is activated. The longer we survive chronic stress and trauma, the more our brains develop a hard-wired survival pattern in the brain. Our calm and rational brain is eventually hi-jacked and we then live in a state of hypervigilance:
“The amygdala is a complex structure of cells nestled in the middle of the brain, adjacent to the hippocampus (which is associated with memory formation).”
“What are the health effects of toxic stress?
Chronic toxic stress—living in a red alert mode for months or years — can also damage our bodies. In a red alert state, the body pumps out adrenaline and cortisol continuously. Over time, the constant presence of adrenaline and cortisol keep blood pressure high, which weakens the heart and circulatory system. They also keep glucose levels high to provide enough energy for the heart and muscles to act quickly; this can lead to type 2 diabetes. Too much adrenaline and cortisol can also increase cholesterol.
Too much cortisol can lead to osteoporosis, arthritis, gastrointestinal disease, depression, anorexia nervosa, Cushing’s syndrome, hyperthyroidism and the shrinkage of lymph nodes, leading to the inability to ward off infections.
If the red alert system is always on, eventually the adrenal glands give out, and the body can’t produce enough cortisol to keep up with the demand. This may cause the immune system to attack parts of the body, which can lead to lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia.
Cortisol is also extremely important in maintaining the body’s appropriate inflammation response. In a normal response to a bee sting or infection, the body rushes antibodies, white blood cells and other cell fighters to the site and the tissues swell while the battle rages. But too much swelling damages tissue. Cortisol controls this fine balance. So without the mediating effects of cortisol, the inflammatory response runs amok and can cause a host of diseases.
If you’re chronically stressed and then experience an additional traumatic event, your body will have trouble returning to a normal state. Over time, you will become more sensitive to trauma or stress, developing a hair-trigger response to events that other people shrug off.
Biomedical researchers say that childhood trauma is biologically embedded in our bodies: Children with adverse childhood experiences and adults who have experienced childhood trauma may respond more quickly and strongly to events or conversations that would not affect those with no ACEs, and have higher levels of indicators for inflammation than those who have not suffered childhood trauma. This wear and tear on the body is the main reason why the lifespan of people with an ACE score of six or higher is likely to be shortened by 20 years. https://acestoohigh.com/aces-101/
The Sociopath is Guilty of Deadly Destruction to Human Health
Traumatic stress, caused by unrelenting brutality from the sociopath, affects all systems of the body. The sociopath’s desperate need for narcissistic supply and control drains us of energy. The stress depletes the body of nutrients and leaves the body with symptoms of toxicity. It is no wonder I had to rebuild my body and that it took years to rebuild. It is no wonder that my children have suffered because they have a father who is evil and who does not protect and support his children. Far worse, he enjoyed using them as weapons, using them without empathy and conscience, to get what he wanted. That is as selfish and anti-life as a parent can get. I have learned that when the body experiences stress, from persons who try to destroy us, that copper levels in the body go up and zinc levels go down.
What does copper have to do with mental health?
“When we focus on the key minerals that influence the functionality of our brain, we need to pay close attention to 2 of them: zinc and copper.
To make things simple, you can think of zinc as the ‘balancer’ – it’s the calming, relaxing, stabilising mineral. It is a strong anti-oxidant. It helps you make rational decisions, it helps make the brain’s calming neurotransmitter – GABA, it is the body’s ‘anti-depression’ tool.
Copper on the other hand is what I lovingly call ‘the crazy one’.
Copper is a conductor of electricity – it fires up the brain. It is a pro-oxidant or ‘free radical’. Copper acts as a neuro-toxin when in excess and can alter the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, especially dopamine and noradrenaline.” (Allerton)
“The symptoms relating to copper toxicity syndrome can often be described as an affective disorder of neurotic rather than psychotic nature” (Nolan)
“If your child is anxious, hyper, impulsive, agitated, and has trouble concentrating, remember, copper acts as a stimulant. This produces an adrenaline surge, which is hard for a little, growing body to control. Your child isn’t bad, it just means there is a biochemical difficulty that is correctable.” (Gilbert)
“An important ingredient in the treatment of copper overload is supplementation with zinc. This must be done very slowly and carefully, because zinc mobilizes copper stores. During this process, a person can initially feel even more anxious and symptomatic.” (Tsafrir)
Why haven’t I heard of copper toxicity?
“Now we have the answers to why copper can be good, bad, and what symptoms create the ugly. Let’s pursue why most doctors don’t test for copper toxicity and why it is common and yet not well-known.
The most straightforward answer to this is that doctors do not receive training in nutritional supplementation in medical school. There is no known pharmaceutical to treat copper toxicity properly. Therefore, traditional doctors will not test for something they do not treat. What they will do is treat the symptoms rather than the cause. If you consult your doctor about mood-related symptoms, he/she is likely to dispense an antidepressant without doing any testing. Traditional doctors are unaware that SSRI’s can make anxiety symptoms worse for high copper individuals.” (Tokarz)
Doctors do not receive training in nutritional supplementation in medical school.
Cost of Ignoring Effects of Trauma
Most human beings experience some degree of trauma on Planet Earth. This planet is often one of violence and a horror show. Most are taught to cover up symptoms of trauma with toxic pharmaceutical medications and talk therapy. I have learned that healing trauma is complex and requires more than simplistic answers which cover-up the root of the problem with synthetic chemicals. I have learned that unprocessed trauma leads to both mental and physical health problems. I have witnessed how unprocessed trauma results in alcoholism, anxiety, depression, insomnia, autoimmune disorders, violence, cancer, diabetes, dementia, etc..
Therefore, it is vital that we no longer rely on the mantra “forgive and forget”. We must remember and recover:
We need to release trauma, using for example: 1) EMDR, 2) somatic experiencing, 3) neurofeedback, 4) audio visual entrainment, 5) yoga, 6) acupuncture, 7) body massage, 8) journaling, 9) breathing exercises, 10) nutritional therapies, 11) meditation, 12) gentle exercise, etc. We need to return the body to a baseline state of calm so that we rewire the survival brain pattern and restore nutritional balance.
The Brain is Neuroplastic
The good news is that we now know the brain is neuroplastic. This means the brain can learn a new and healthy neurological pattern!
I witness a family member, highly traumatized with unprocessed trauma who suffers from dementia, and I wonder if the suffering could have been prevented. I read: “Experiencing trauma, abuse or neglect in childhood may lead to health complications later on, including a higher risk of developing dementia, new research finds (Bushak). Alzheimer’s disease is caused by elevated levels of heavy metals, such as lead, zinc, and copper (Patel and Aschner). Since we now know that stress raises copper levels and lowers zinc levels, did the copper levels get too high and increase the risk of dementia?
“Copper is a cofactor in the synthesis of norepinephrine:
DOPAMINE ————————————————————-> NOREPINEPHRINE (adrenaline)
Copper, Vitamine C and Oxygen
Because of this, when copper is elevated, dopamine levels decrease and norepinephrine levels rise. Having these neurotransmitters out of balance can be at play in a whole range of problems including anxiety, panic, bipolar disorder, depression, ADHD, and autism. This doesn’t mean that all depression (or these other diagnoses) are caused by copper overload. Dr. Walsh’s database of chemistries on 10,000 psychiatric patients, show for example, there are five biochemical phenotypes of depression –undermethylation, overmethylation, copper overload, pyroluria and toxic metals. His research did find, however, that overwhelmingly women with postpartum depression had elevated copper levels.” (Snyder)
“An important ingredient in the treatment of copper overload is supplementation with zinc. This must be done very slowly and carefully, because zinc mobilizes copper stores. During this process, a person can initially feel even more anxious and symptomatic” (Tsafrir). “Not all doctors know how to interpret the results or prescribe appropriate levels of nutrients. The correct combination of minerals, vitamins, and amino acids is vital to bringing individualized biochemistry back into balance.” (Tokarz)
Causes of Neurological Symptoms
“There are some specific causes that can create a sensitive, weakened nervous system. The first is neurotoxins. Viruses such as Epstein-Barr, shingles, HHV-6, and others release neurotoxins which can cause a host of different sensitivities, symptoms and conditions connected to the nervous system. If any underlying viral issues are not addressed, your nervous system can become hypersensitive.
Toxic heavy metals are a second cause. Mercury is extremely harmful and other metals such as aluminum, lead, arsenic, copper, and nickel wreak havoc as well. An alloy of these metals in the brain can oxidize over time, short circuiting neurotransmitters as they run through the neurons. Imagine the neuron is like a stream and the neurotransmitters are like the living water rushing through. Heavy metals are what block and destroy both the stream and the pulsing energy running through it. Heavy metals diminish neurotransmitter and neuron function, breakdown electrical impulses, and can cause seizures if present in the brain and nervous system for extended periods of time. You can learn more about toxic heavy metals here.
You must stay vigilant to avoid the third cause, MSG. It’s found in many packaged food items these days, even seemingly healthy ones, and hidden behind terms like “natural flavors,” “citric acid,” and “vanilla flavor.” It can even be found in protein shakes and natural herbal teas! MSG eats away at your brain, creates lesions, and breaks down your nervous system, worsening neurological problems.
Chemical sensitivities can also occur when chemicals interact with an already weak, sensitive central nervous system. Symptoms of a sensitive central nervous system might include forgetfulness, word misplacement, bafflement for no reason, confusion, feeling easily rattled or puzzled, brain fog, disorientation, or a feeling of disconnection. Anyone who experiences anxiety or depression has a sensitive central nervous system. Exposure to toxic chemicals can strengthen these symptoms and create new symptoms for someone who is already very sensitive.
A few more causes are aspartame, which severely damages the neurological system and can even cause seizures in certain people. Mold can be a serious trigger as well. Mold doesn’t cause neurological issues but can be a trigger to another underlying cause. Stress can also be a trigger and have a serious negative impact on the central nervous system because of the corrosive adrenaline released when we are under stress. Each person has their own causes that create neurological symptoms. https://www.medicalmedium.com/blog/healing-your-neurological-system
So, I conclude that trauma recovery, for me, includes the need to:
- lower copper levels by adding zinc and removing sources of copper intake
- detox heavy metals
- follow inner, body wisdom, spiritual guidance
- find a holistic healthcare practitioner who is trained in copper toxicity and biochemical nutritional balance
- eat whole foods and avoid processed foods
- avoid narcissists and sociopaths as much as possible
- break the chain of inherited generational trauma
- process trauma rather than suppress it
- retrain the brain and practice a baseline state of calm
- believe we can feel once again, breathe freely, and experience a joyous recovery
- support others in need of trauma informed care
Adverse Childhood Experiences on Long-Term Brain Development and Health
In summary, “when exposed to a toxic environment throughout childhood and adolescence, a person’s fight or-flight response is consistently activated, causing the brain and body to significantly reduce executive functions related to health. This overactivation can lead to severe health problems in adulthood.
In an analysis of the links between severe health problems and ACEs, Crawford County Human Services (2016) identifies the following as possible lifelong effects of severe childhood trauma: obesity, diabetes, depression, suicide attempts, heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), STDs, smoking, alcoholism, and drug use. However, until society addresses ACEs as a public health crisis, the effects of ACEs will be felt for and through generations to come.” (Hesterman)
However, until society addresses ACEs as a public health crisis, the effects of ACEs will be felt for and through generations to come.
Human beings are resilient and can reverse damage perpetrated by sociopaths and traumatic stress.
Allerton, Maria, “Copper: The Key Mineral For Emotional, Hormonal & Mental Health”, https://www.truefoodsnutrition.com.au/metal-plays-mind/
Bushak, L., (2020), “Experiencing Trauma in Childhood Linked to Increased Risk of Developing Dementia: https://www.forbes.com/sites/leciabushak/2020/02/11/experiencing-trauma-in-childhood-linked-to-increased-risk-of-developing-dementia/?sh=12919e9d3526
Gilbert, S., (2021), “Depression, Anxiety, and Copper Toxicity: https://eatfor.life/depression-anxiety-copper-toxicity/
Hesterman, M., (2021), “The Effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences on Long-Term Brain Development and Health”, file:///C:/Users/Pam/Downloads/dbeard,+3717-Academic+Article-17879-1-11-20210429.pdf
Orgeta, V., (2020), “Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Linked to Increased Risk of Dementia”, https://theconversation.com/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-linked-to-increased-risk-of-dementia-new-research-146325#:~:text=Apart%20from%20one%2C%20all%20studies,up%20to%2017%20years%20later
Patel, R. and Aschner, M., (2021), “Commonalities between Copper Neurotoxicity and Alzheimer’s Disease”, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7825595/
Snyder, Courtney, (2015), “Copper Overload – Too Much of a Good Thing”, https://www.courtneysnydermd.com/blog/epigenetics-methylation-mthfr-the-brain-made-easyer
Tokarz, D., (2019), “Why Copper Toxicity Could Be Causing Your Mental Illness Symptoms”, https://www.debtokarz.com/copper-toxicity-2/
Tsafrir, J., (2017) “Copper Toxicity: A Common Cause of Psychiatric Symptoms, Elevated copper is linked to psychiatric and autoimmune condition”, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/holistic-psychiatry/201709/copper-toxicity-common-cause-psychiatric-symptoms