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PTSD and the Nervous System

PTSD and the Nervous System

The human Nervous System is considered the control center of the body. This system is split into two parts. The Central Nervous System, also called the CNS, is built up of the brain and spinal cord, and the other part, the Peripheral Nervous System, or PNS, includes all of the other nerves in the body. These two systems communicate with each other to form the nervous system.

The Nervous System

The two subdivisions of the nervous system are responsible for many, if not all, of our daily functions. Both parts of the nervous system work together to read the stimuli present in our environment. They then send signals to the brain and body to adapt. The nervous system takes responsibility for our fine motor control as well as vital involuntary bodily functions like breathing. The nervous system manages even our ability to think and learn.

When we are in danger, the nervous system is responsible for activating our flight or fight response. When a threat is present, signals are sent throughout the body to enable us to react appropriately.

A great example of the nervous system in action is the sequence of events that occurs when you place your hand on a hot stove. The pain we feel from the heat travels from the nerves in our hands to our brains. Then, the brain interprets that signal and sends back the information we need to jerk our hands away. Without this lightning-fast communication between the body and the nervous system, we would not have the reaction to pull away when we do something that could result in injury.

When we are in a relaxed state, our nervous system is active in a different way. During relaxed states, our PNS begins to aid in digestion, lower blood pressure, and slow heart rate. This branch of the nervous system facilitates our states of calm. And our nervous system is vital to keep our bodies in homeostasis. Traumatic experiences, especially unresolved traumatic stress, can impact these essential functions.

The Impact Ptsd Has on the Nervous System

When a person goes through a traumatic event or series of events that remain unresolved, this system can become thrown off, leading to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The result of this is a dysfunctional nervous system. Plenty of psychological and physiological implications come with a dysfunctional nervous system.

When we think about the functions that keep our bodies need to keep moving, it is often difficult to truly understand the extent to which their improper regulation can cause harm to us. A poorly functioning nervous system means that our states of relaxation and are states of activity are thrown off. When this happens, a person can have inappropriate responses to the stimuli present in daily life.

A nervous system that has been altered due to PTSD can completely imbalance a person long-term. Unresolved trauma can be due to childhood abuse or neglect, sexual assault, and more. This dysfunction can have effects ranging from high blood pressure to trouble connecting with others.

A person can be suffering through:

  • Substance abuse
  • Overeating or stress eating
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Inflammation
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Chronic illnesses

Healing a Dysfunctional Nervous System

When your nervous system is overreacting to the stimuli presented, it can have a negative impact on your health. The same is true if the nervous system is not reacting enough. PTSD can cause a nervous system to be stuck in the wrong phases at the wrong time, leading to discomfort and anxiety.

If you are experiencing the symptoms of a nervous system that is poorly functioning, many actions can be taken. It is important for general well-being to keep our nervous systems healthy and functioning despite any trauma that we have endured.


Meditation is a great way to help regulate our stress levels. Mediation practice is a way that we can consciously aid our bodies into a state of rest. Meditation can help to reduce stress levels in the body, lower blood pressure, and promote healthy emotional regulation.


Another way you can promote healthy regulation is through spending quality time with others; simply being around others who make you feel safe and secure can positively impact how your body reacts to different environmental stressors. If you are in a situation that requires you to engage with people who trigger you, it is important to make time for the people who help you feel at peace.

Physical exercise is another way to help your body regulate the stages of your nervous system. Exercise works wonder on the brain’s response to stress. Our brains create neurotransmitters that transmit messages between neurons during exercise. These neurotransmitters can have a lasting impact on our health. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter released during exercise, helps us to feel pleasure and motivation. The feeling of achievement and satisfaction with oneself is aided by dopamine.

Even after an exercise session is complete, the mood-boosting effects can last up to 12 hours. It is recommended to aim for 30 minutes of exercise per day. Doing even a few of these things can promote an environment where the nervous system can thrive and aid in our bodily functions.

Here at Acera Health, we recognize how the nervous system plays such an important role in the overall well-being of our bodies. Although it is a challenging task to confront some of the traumas that have led to dysfunction, it is vital in keeping many other of our bodily functions intact. The benefits of retraining the nervous system to perform in the intended manner range from good emotional regulation all the way to having lower resting blood pressure. Acera Health is here to ensure you make the most of every opportunity provided in order to improve symptoms of PTSD and calm your nervous system. Call us at (949) 647-4090 to learn more.


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