PTSD and Long-Term Health

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:

parts of the limbic system
https://www.simplypsychology.org/amygdala.html

“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/

how-stress-affects-the-body-1
https://www.pacesconnection.com/blog/the-developing-brain-and-adverse-childhood-experiences-aces

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!

https://www.pacesconnection.com/blog/the-developing-brain-and-adverse-childhood-experiences-aces

Holistic Healing

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 Beta-Hydroxylase
         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.

References:

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

Image
https://twitter.com/DanielleHark/status/1083393326437621761/photo/1

PTSD, Insomnia, and Copper Toxicity

50 Inspirational Quotes During Sickness For Speedy Recovery

Sleep disorders are a hallmark symptom of PTSD and CPTSD. After trauma, the body is overstimulated and hypervigilant. The adrenals typically fatigue and we live on alert with stimulating brain neurotransmitters. The body needs to be restored to the biological rhythms of eating, sleeping, and a baseline state of calm. Judith Lewis Herman, M.D., in her book “Trauma and Recovery” states that “probably the most commonly prescribed medication for post-traumatic stress disorder…are the minor tranquilizers, such as benzodiazepenes” (pg. 161)

Initially, I tried some psychotropic medication but suffered side effects. Some side effects were so frightening that I discontinued taking the medication. I consulted with one medical doctor, who was arrogant, when I was cautious about taking psychotropic medications. He said ‘you come here for this’ and he insisted I take the medication. That was the day I experienced the most frightening side effects which caused me to stay away from the allopathic medical profession. Feeling desperate at times, for sleep, I tried benzodiazepenes. They provided approximately three hours of sleep. But, they have risk of addiction and, per Peter R. Breggin, M.D., can cause brain impairment. Dr. Breggin writes:

HARMFUL EFFECTS OF SEDATIVE, HYPNOTIC, AND ANXIOLYTIC DRUGS (TRANQUILIZERS AND SLEEPING AIDS)

Ativan (lorazepam)
Klonopin (clonazepam)
Librium (chlordiazepoxide)
Serax (oxazepam)
Tranxene (chlorazepate)
Valium (diazepam)
Xanax (alprazolam)
Miltown (meprobamate)
BuSpar (buspirone; not addictive)
Benzodiazepine Sleeping Aids
Dalmane (flurazepam)
Doral (quazepam)
Halcion (triazolam)
ProSom (estazolam)
Restoril (temazepam)
Non-Benzodiazepine Sleeping Aids
Ambien (zolpidem) Intermezzo (zolpidem sublingual tablets),
Lunesta (eszopiclone)
Rozerem (ramelteon; not addictive)
Silenor (doxepin; not addictive, a sedative antidepressant)
Somnote (chloral hydrate)
Sonata (zaleplon)

How Benzodiazepine Drugs Disable the Brain

The addictive benzodiazepines used to quell anxiety and induce sleep produce their brain-disabling effect y abnormally over-stimulating the neurotransmitter system GABA, found throughout the brain. Increasing the effect of GABA produces a dose-dependent suppression of all central nervous system (CNS) neurons throughout the brain (Ballenger 1995), leading to a dose-dependent gradient of sedation, sleep, generalized anesthesia, and coma (Breggin 1998, 2008a, 2013). One anesthesiologist researcher described the overall effect as “pulling out the plugs at the switch board” (Orser 2007, p. 255 ff.). These drugs have no specific anti-anxiety effect and any one of them could produce general anesthesia. Because anxiety is a higher mental and emotional function, it is one of the first reduced by a drug; but in the process, overall mental life is suppressed.

Because the individual taking the drug is focused on reducing the anxiety, its reduction is more apparent than the more subtle diminution in cognitive processes. Furthermore, the knowledge that taking a pill will eventually dampen the anxiety gives individuals a sense of control, but through pills rather than through personal mental effort. The reliance on pills will eventually prove futile as the brain resists the sedative effect. Furthermore, the use of pills also undermines the individual’s confidence and practice in learning to manage feelings of emotional helplessness.” http://breggin.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/Breggin2016_RationalPrinciples.pdf

“Mental dysfunction and addiction caused by benzodiazepines

Currently among the most widely-prescribed psychiatric medications, benzodiazepines or tranquilizers can produce a wide variety of abnormal mental responses and hazardous behavioral abnormality, including rebound anxiety and insomnia, mania (especially Xanax) and other forms of psychosis, paranoia, violence, antisocial acts, depression, and suicide. These drugs can impair cognition, ranging from short-term memory impairment and confusion to delirium. They can also induce dependence and addiction. Severe withdrawal syndromes with fever, lowered blood pressure, shakiness, muscle cramps, blurred vision,  abnormal sensations and perceptions, psychosis, seizures, and even death can develop. The short-acting benzodiazepines, alprazolam (Xanax) and, to an even greater extent, triazolam (Halcion) are especially prone to cause psychological and behavioral abnormalities. Especially when given high doses over many months, many people suffer from mental and emotional instability and cognitive problems long after stopping these medications. These adverse drug effects can wreak havoc in the lives of individuals and their families.

The best sources for information on the benzodiazepines and other tranquilizers and sleeping pills can be found in Dr. Breggin’s two newest books:

Portrait of Dr. Peter Breggin
Peter R. Breggin, M.D. Harvard trained psychiatrist who has been called “the conscience of psychiatry”

Holistic Healing

I had enough reactions to psychotropic medications. So, I was done. I chose the route of HTMA (hair tissue mineral analysis) and holistic medicine. In essence, I gave my body the whole foods and nutritional supplements which helped me rebuild my broken body. My physiology was very depleted after surviving a nutcase sociopath. (The sociopath always seems to call his target crazy, to discredit her, while he is actually the severely disturbed, unconscionable predator). Though trying, over and over, to produce sleep, a rhythm could not be established while I was being stalked by the sociopath and battered by many victim blamers.

First of all, I needed to established boundaries in order to protect myself and to feel safe. I consulted with various healthcare providers. It was a lot of trial and error. A foundation, for me, was healing with EMDR so I could feel again, listen to body wisdom, and trust my inner guidance. I eventually discovered what was essential for me and which may be helpful to others who suffer anxiety, racing mind, panic attacks, and insomnia. Symptoms of trauma and hypervigilance can look like ADD, ADHD, bipolar, OCD, ODD, generalized anxiety and depression, etc. So, I believe we need to assess for trauma, in the mental health profession, rather than rush to DSM diagnoses and psychotropic medications which tend to disguise root causes of symptoms.

I found a solution that few talk about. I read Ann Louise Gittleman’s book “Why Am I Always So Tired?” I read: “Insomnia-especially hard-to-treat insomnia-is often an indicator of copper overload. Copper is a brain stimulant, so excess copper typically interferes with sleep: people with copper overload often have trouble both falling asleep (because the mind won’t relax) and staying asleep (because stimulating thoughts plague them in the middle of the night). These sleep problems can be particularly pronounced when a person is under a a lot of stress, which causes copper levels to rise in the body and zinc levels to fall, thus exacerbating the tendency of a person with copper overload to have difficulty getting a good night’s sleep. (pg. 73)

Why Am I Always So Tired? by Ann Louise Gittleman
Why Am I Always So Tired? by Ann Louise Gittleman, M.S., C.N.S.

Testing for Copper Toxicity

Sad to say there was no holistic healthcare provider, over the years, who directed me to check for copper toxicity. I learned about copper toxicity, at the start of my health crisis, through Dr. Katherine. So, after years of stress and struggle with chronic illness, I decided to retest. I found a high level of copper and a low level of zinc. That was no surprise after surviving ‘too much for too long’, chronic stress, and being retraumatized (the sociopath clung like a parasite to get his narcissistic, unquenchable feed. His mainline, easy access feeding trough was to use children). Here is a questionnaire from Ann Gittleman’s book so you can consider if you have symptoms of copper toxicity (pg. 71):

Copper Overload Questionnaire

If you think you are an unsuspecting victim of copper overload, take this quiz and find out:

  • Do you eat frequent light meals but still lack energy? Yes ___ No___
  • Does your mind tend to race, even your body is exhausted? Yes ___ No___
  • Do you consider yourself a highly creative person, but one who is frequently anxious and drained
    of energy? Yes ___ No ___
  • Do you tend to daydream and live in your head? Yes ___ No ___
  • Do you frequently experience insomnia because your mind simply won’t calm down? Yes ___ No ___
  • Are you prone to emotional and physical highs and lows? Yes ___ No ___
  • Do you have frequent colds and flus, slow wound healing, lack of taste or appetite, or white spots
    on your fingernails? Yes ___ No ___
  • Do you suffer from any of the following conditions–migraine headaches, hyperactivity, panic attacks, mood swings, depression, premenstrual tension, or skin problems–for which no underlying cause has been identified? Yes ___ No ___
  • Do you have high estrogen levels or use the birth control pill, estrogen replacement therapy, or a copper IUD? Yes ___ No ___
  • Do you either crave or adversely react to high-copper foods such as chocolate, nuts, avocados, and soy products? Yes ___ No ___
  • Does your hair have a natural orange-red tint of copper-colored highlights? Yes ___ No ___
  • Do you have dark areas of pigmentation of skin blotches on your face? Yes ___ No ___

If you have three to five affirmative answers, you probably have some degree of copper overload.

If you have six to eight affirmative answers, it’s very likely you have copper overload.

If you have nine to twelve affirmative answers, you almost certainly suffer a strong or long-standing case of copper overload”.

Understanding the Indicators

Copper stimulates both mental and emotional overactivity, so those of us with high copper tend to be bright and creative but also prone to emotional highs and lows. Often people with copper overload are so stimulated by their creative ideas that they become emotionally and physically hyperactive for a while, drawing on borrowed energy despite their fundamental fatigue. When that fatigue catches up with them, they tend to come crashing down to a low in which they feel physically and emotionally wiped out.” (pg. 74)

In addition to the questionnaire, the HTMA test will validate whether or not you have copper toxicity, heavy metals, and nutritional imbalances. In addition, here is a helpful which explains how we become copper toxic and suggestions for how to detox: https://www.sickofbeingstuck.com/copper-detox/

Correcting Copper Toxicity

Ann Gittleman, M.S., C.N.S. states that zinc is copper’s primary antagonist, so without adequate zinc in the body, copper tends to build up simply because there is nothing to stop it”. She states that we need to support the liver’s natural ability to detoxify copper and heavy metals. We do this by eating foods and taking natural remedies that are rich in sulfur. Sulfur is a mineral antagonistic to copper and all heavy metals. She has discovered that “one of the most effective supplements I’ve found for helping individuals recover from copper overload is alpha lipoic acid” (pg. 113). This author has a multitude of suggestions for healing the body. So, I recommend her book if you suffer from symptoms of copper overload, adrenal insufficiency, and zinc deficiency.

My personal experience with taking high quality zinc to lower copper levels was that the ability to sleep started to improve. I began to feel more present, in the moment, rather than stimulated. I discovered products, on LiftMode.com, that support sleep naturally. LiftMode.com provides highly responsive customer support with answering questions, about their products, when asked. I encourage others, who suffer with chronic illness, to never give up. It is a lot to endure, it takes time, patience, and trial and error. But, it seems the answers do finally come.

Never Give Up

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