Hi, I don't believe in 99% of psychiatry, but someone is doing their job. I was laughing my head off at the stuff on bullyonline.org about bullies, but then when I read the stuff about flashbacks, preoccupation with revenge, and hypervigilance, I realized I had some problems. Well, I wasn't genetically engineered to be a punching bag either, so it makes sense. I believe trauma has two main causes. While physical abuse is the most obvious cause of people's survival systems going into overload, the unseen factor is how other people interfere, reinforcing the victim's feelings of helplessness and desperation. In school, the administration repeatedly punished me for being attacked and demonized me for angry verbal outbursts. My parents never stood up for me. And everyone expected me to repress the anger I felt towards them and my attackers. And why do people have such impossible expectations? Because in their minds, a good person always keeps their cool and a bad person loses it. That social conditioning left me with a poor self-image. I was forced to believe that my behavior was unacceptable instead of a natural reaction to unnatural situations, and therefore I had a lot of guilt and shame. Like anyone with sense in the face of people who have none, I became a cynical recluse. I just completed four semesters at college as an office student, and I type 100 wpm average with a peak of 133. I feel very uncomfortable (anxious) around strangers, and that goes away once I get to know people or I'm alone. --------------- Reading neuroscience helps me understand what my brain is doing in stressful situations. I recommend everyone do the same. I'll use cigs and soda to illustrate some science. The MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) in cigarettes clog our toilets. Instead of monoamine neurotransmitters being broken down, the serotonin, noradrenaline, and stuff keep our survival systems active longer than normal. Nicotine patches can be used to get off the MAOIs so the toilet flushes again. They're expensive, but in two weeks the MAOIs leave the body. Nicotine artificially activates and locks open the nicotinic type acetylcholine receptors. The brain compensates by increasing the number of receptors. Caffeine and tea clog adenosine (A1) receptors, enhancing acetylcholine release in the hippocampus and increasing dopamine (the feel good neurotransmitter) activity. There are 3 types of neurotransmitters: amino acids, peptides, and monoamines plus acetylcholine. There are 2 types of acetylcholine receptors: nicotinic and muscarinic. Neurotransmitters activate receptors. Acetylcholine enables voluntary muscular movement, whereas noradrenaline (a monoamine) activates a system outside of our natural control: the sympathetic nervous system a.k.a. fight-or-flight mode. If our nicotinic acetylcholine receptors were blocked by something like certain snake poisons, we'd be paralyzed. If you think that's bad, blocking muscarinic receptors leads to memory loss. Dopamine activates pleasure, and without it we'd have Parkinson's. Nicotine activates dopamine as well, which is why smoking is a progressive addiction. Drugs like bupropion help get people off nicotine. These substances aggravate PTSD symptoms. Get off them. --------------- Let me share the following as a basis for PTSD symptoms: Stage 1 - Stress Overload Whatever the source of stress, your body's initial reaction is the same: the adrenal glands make more of the stress hormones cortisol and DHEA. This first stage of hormonal maldadaptation is called hyperadrenia, or overactivity of the adrenal glands. Normally, when the stress dissipates, the glands have time to recondition and prepare for the next stressful event. However, if your stress levels remain high, your body will remain locked in this first stage of adrenal stress. If your stress hormone levels remain elevated for extended periods of time, your body's ability to recover can be reduced and the ability of your adrenals to make cortisol and DHEA can be compromised. Another way to look at this is to think of your adrenal reserve as a savings account. If you continually withdraw money from savings and don't replace it, you are eventually unable to recover financially. Fatigue and other adrenal symptoms are signs that your body's reserve has been overdrawn and your adrenals are becoming exhausted. If the stress continues, the high levels of cortisol and DHEA begin to drop. As the high levels of these hormones can no longer be sustained, a person enters into stage two of adrenal exhaustion. Stage 2 - Fatigue Some individuals have genetically strong adrenal glands and can maintain health under high levels of stress for many years. Others may enter into stage two more quickly. Eventually, if we continue to experience excess stress, we enter into stage two of adrenal exhaustion. This transition period usually lasts between six and eighteen months during which the stress response of the adrenal glands is gradually compromised. Under chronic stress conditions, the adrenals eventually "burn out". At this point the glands become fatigued and can no longer sustain an adequate response to stress. This condition ultimately leads to stage three or hypoadrenalism. Stage 3 - Exhaustion In stage three of adrenal maladaptation, the glands have been depleted of their ability to produce cortisol and DHEA in sufficient amounts and now it becomes more and more difficult for the body to recover. Constant fatigue and low-level depression can appear in otherwise emotionally healthy people because cortisol and DHEA help maintain mood, emotional stability, and energy levels. As cortisol and DHEA levels are depressed, people experience depressed mental function. Brain function suffers as these hormones are depleted. Both poor memory and mental confusion can be a direct result of adrenal hormone depletion. (More info on the website: http://www.drkalish.com/info/systems/hormonal.htm) This article (http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/index.php?term=pto-19920101-000036&page=3) explains that trauma leaves the CRF faucet on, which then causes abnormal responses to stimuli like sounds: stress-sensitivity. Since our brains are wired to react so much, the rest of the adrenal system merely follows suit. The resulting condition is hypoadrenia. Mainstream medicine doesn't accept hypoadrenia, but the wikipedia entry recites the following: I don't need any more evidence. This is my definition of Complex PTSD: overstimulation of the adrenal system. And this is caused by overproduction of CRF (now called CRH) in the brain. http://thyroid.about.com/cs/endocrinology/a/adrenalfatigue_2.htm Please post comments and questions.