The physical side effects of ptsd…

KathK

Learning
So much is discussed about the I guess psych symptoms of ptsd that the physical symptoms get missed out.

I’m in a flare at present and it’s reminding me how much more goes on. I’m not a Dr, I was a nurse and have done lots of reading and discussions with clinicians on a colleague level in symptom lulls, but so many in the medical model are so over-specialised they forget the basics and big picture.

In short we get an activation of the sympathetic nervous system that doesn’t subside, combined with increased and prolonged release of things like adrenaline and cortisol. It’s no wonder that I forget to eat or feel nauseous eating, or that my senses are alert to basically everything and muscle tension lingers, and staying so heightened is exhausting so fatigue or plummets/crashes happen (like panic attacks more like hyperarousal attacks that last hours and feel like ordeals, then I get home or somewhere ‘safe’ and fall asleep regardless of the time because I’m exhausted trying to function despite the panic). The whole system can be stuck in fight/flight mode, during which blood flow is decreased to areas like digestion so constipation then ‘letting loose’, struggling to remember to eat or keep food down. In my case before I understood any of this I tried to cope with my trauma and ptsd symptoms by using what became anorexia (I literally wanted to slip through the floorboard cracks to escape the perps), and later the starvation mindset helped cut off the flashbacks/hyperarousal/etc as I was focusing on eating disorder behaviours compulsively (like counting and excessive exercise which released the pent up flight/fight energy). I’m in recovery or recovered from anorexia now but my body remembers and the triggering of the body’s trauma response triggers all those physical symptoms and others, not just the ‘psych’ symptoms commonly talked about.

Have others noticed any of this? I have some techniques to try and manage them, but it’s such a challenge, sometimes even to have a drink during those more acute heightened episodes.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Oh yeah! There’s a a thread for Fibro sufferers here somewhere because it’s so prolific in the trauma community. Gut issues tend to not get talked about quite as often (for obvious reasons!), but my gut essentially hates me, and given my constant heightened state of arousal that makes perfect sense to me. The Body does indeed Keep The Score!
 
@RachelBigby What do you mean by "mystery?" Are you in the process of finding diagnoses or can they really not discover/label (I hate that word) what's wrong?

Saw a neurologist and ENT about the vertigo. They did expensive tests and said they can't find the cause.

Saw a cardiologist about the palpitations. He did expensive tests and said he can't find a cause.

Saw a gastro doctor about the digestion problems. More expensive tests, said he can't find a cause.

Saw multiple specialists for issues with my lady parts. Expensive tests, expensive drugs, and they couldn't find a cause.

Told my PCP my hands were going numb. She said it could be anything and told me not to worry about it.

On and on.
 
@RachelBigby I went through the specialist merry-go-round, but at least I got answers. I am so sorry. In my unmedical opinion your PTSD is causing all kinds of problems!

"The chronic stress of unresolved emotional problems wreaks having on your immune and circulatory systems, cardiac function, hormone levels, mood and memory, even your physical coordination and metabolic rate. In addition, the cascade of free radical cell damage produced by chronic stress is thought to contribute to as much as 80% of all illness."

"Physically, crises and catastrophes can be devastating; the hormones, enzymes and neurotransmitters that govern the immune system get depleted, making your body susceptible to incapacitating or life-threatening disorders."

Making Peace With Your Past
Harold Bloomfield, MD
 
Saw a neurologist and ENT about the vertigo. They did expensive tests and said they can't find the cause.

Saw a cardiologist about the palpitations. He did expensive tests and said he can't find a cause.

Saw a gastro doctor about the digestion problems. More expensive tests, said he can't find a cause.

Saw multiple specialists for issues with my lady parts. Expensive tests, expensive drugs, and they couldn't find a cause.

Told my PCP my hands were going numb. She said it could be anything and told me not to worry about it.

On and on.
That makes me sad. I can’t believe you’ve gone to that many and they can’t find at least one label.

Are they at least giving you gabapentin for the numb hands? Did they do a nerve conduction test?

I’m in the boat with the rest of you. IBS, Fibromyalgia, and neuropathy. Plus diabetes, asthma, rosacea, and eczema. I could probably get all kinds of labels but it’s not like they help. My PCP told me 15 years ago fibro was a there’s nothing we can tell you is wrong so we’re going to say fibro. Then 2 years ago he did the pressure point test when I came in because everything hurt. He said you have fibromyalgia. I’m like 13 years of thinking I guess I’m okay because there’s no diagnosis and he then he says I have it. I threw that back in his face. He apologized but really maybe it was helpful?
 
@Charbella I diagnosed myself with fibromyalgia because my doctor at the time was clueless. Part of my degree involves research, so I did a deep dive into all my symptoms. My daughter was in medical school at the time, so I had her look at all my info, she agreed, and got me more data. Then I went to my doctor armed with a super thick folder filled with my findings. I'd barely said a thing and he told me I knew more about it than he did and immediately made me an appointment with a rheumatologist for a diagnosis. After her diagnosis she kept telling me how sorry she was because she'd never seen such a bad case. I have long list of other disorders now, too, like everyone else here does. Chronic pain seems to come with PTSD.
 
@Aprilshowers i too am a research and go to the doctor with my diagnosis. My doctor doesn’t get annoyed anymore because I’m right.

Last year I started having heart palpitations, extreme fatigue, and my ears would get this whooshing noise (tinnitus). I was pretty sure I was anemic. Doctor said it’s just tinnitus not much you can do. On the way home the heart palpitations were horrible so I called the office and said can we run a blood test, I know I might be wrong but let’s check it. Got a call the next day that indeed that was the issue and doc was sorry he didn’t see it.

I think a lot of the reason PTSD people don’t get a diagnosis is that our body reaction doesn’t match our words. My T says I’m hard to read. My words don’t match how I react. Years spent not reacting to survive means we are great at it. We say things like my legs are killing me but our voice is devoid of feeling and when the doctor examines us we fail to cry out in pain. So they figure we are fine just whiny. Some think we are drug seeking. Not mine, I always say no to narcotics, they don’t work. For me doctors only have my extreme blood pressure when I’m in extreme pain to go off otherwise it’s this near robot saying they hurt while looking completely fine.
 
Back
Top