Ever notice how some people seem to collapse under an onslaught of traumatic experiences, and others almost seem to rise above them? Almost as if demonstrating their resilience? Why some people get PTSD and others don’t..that’s the question.
People tend to say the latter type is “strong”… and the former type is weak…unable to withstand or overcome much. More stigma that we have to fight. But is that what’s going on..?
Strong or Weak…? Really…??
What is it that increases the risk that trauma can traumatize you? We’re talking about big T Traumas and little t traumas. Is it about how much or how little? About how much stress you’ve had. How many put downs. Or how much yelling you’ve endured. And how much fear. Too much neglect. Or too little attention. About too little protection… and too few resources. How little money.
How much struggle.
Traumatic experiences can etch themselves into you–into your memories, into your emotions, and into your biology. And what we’ve learned is that what puts us at risk for that–besides the horrible events themselves–is something that is already etched into us. A gene.
There’s a serotonin transporter gene called SLC6A4. This little genetic widget has two arms–and in the best of all possible worlds, the arms are both long arms. But if you were born with one or two short arms instead of two long ones, you are more likely to develop major depression or PTSD in response to a traumatic life event.
It’s almost as if those little short “arms” can’t carry quite the emotional load as the longer arms of the corresponding gene in those who aren’t so impacted.
Or…maybe the longer arms shield their owner from the emotional pain that accompanies heartbreak or trauma in some way.
Of course this is all just a way to bring science to life, but the fact is, having a short arm on that gene increases the risk that you will suffer deeply and longer from life events such as verbal or physical attacks, traumatic events, and long term debilitating difficulty.
And there’s more.
Genetic Test Predicts Outcomes
There’s also a genetic test we can use to determine if you might be someone who would respond well to ketamine treatment.
For decades, psychiatric medicine has relied on trial and error from one medication to another to find the one that is most effective for a given patient.
But now…there is actually a test to help predict your outcome in advance and whether you’re likely to respond quickly and robustly to a treatment for severe depression and PTSD that is as innovative as a ketamine infusion.
Neuroscience is advancing quickly, and treatment options for people who suffer with major depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, and other psychiatric disorders are becoming more reliable and predictable. These discoveries were unheard of less than 10 years ago…even five.
More on the Horizon
And there’s yet another breakthrough on the horizon. And that’s the possibility that we might be able to use science to potentially prevent psychiatric disorders from developing–for example, to protect first responders and military from the risks of trauma before they enter a crisis situation.
So imagine… if firefighters, paramedics, SWAT team members, and military personnel facing potentially traumatic experiences could feasibly be treated with IV ketamine to prevent the event from becoming a debilitating traumatic experience. Or—think about this—imagine if someone who is genetically vulnerable to developing depression or PTSD in response to a traumatic life event could be buffered from the risk of developing it.
One of the exceedingly bright researchers studying ketamine, and interested in “repurposing it,” talks about the exceptional potential of this drug for potentially preventing psychiatric disorders. Working with lab animals, her work with ketamine has opened up a treasure chest of new possibilities.
If you haven’t seen it before, it’s worth your time to watch the TED talk about this by Rebecca Brachman.
She expounds on the sparkling new hope surrounding psychiatric use of ketamine treatment. It has already offered healing to so many who suffer, and in the future, may potentially protect others from the risk of such suffering.
Don’t put psychiatry in a box.
Don’t put people who suffer with psychiatric disorders in a box.
The possibilities are endless.
Rapid and effective treatments are emerging.
And hope for your life to be the best it can be is billowing.
Please call for an appointment if you’re concerned about the emotions and reactions you’re experiencing in response to what life has thrown at you. Let’s work together to find the right innovative solution for you.
To your best self,
Lori Calabrese, MD