The Connection Between Neuroplasticity of the Brain and the Trauma
Trauma can have devastating consequences; it affects every area of the person’s life and might lead to PTSD, which is a posttraumatic stress disorder characterised by re-experiencing traumatic events through flashbacks, nightmares, sleep difficulties and other unpleasant symptoms. But does it mean individuals who suffer from PTSD are damaged beyond repair?
What Does Neuroplasticity Mean?
Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change and adapt its structures. Trauma can alter the brain, for example, the brain of people with PTSD shows problematic activities in its several structures. Being under a lot of stress as a result of trauma affects the prefrontal cortex that becomes activated when we engage our working memory.  As a result, a person suffering from PTSD faces damage of prefrontal neurons that are associated with poor memory and impulse control. Similarly, the fight-or-flight response that activates due to trauma leads to increased cortisol (stress hormone) levels that then causes changes in the amygdala, the brain region responsible for emotional regulation.
Does PTSD Cause Irreversible Changes?
Findings from previous studies suggest that the brain has the ability to repair itself. The concept of brain self-healing abilities started from the theory of Canadian psychologist Donald Hebb who discovered that pathways in the brain can be reinforced if repeated enough times. In the PTSD context, it means that experience can affect the brain when trauma occurs but it also means a novel experience can reverse it. However, this isn’t to say that healing is easy or happens without making an effort. The road to recovery is challenging and requires commitment.
How To Promote Neuroplasticity of the Brain When Recovering From Trauma?
According to the researchers Tabibnia and Radecki, the key to healing from trauma is increasing resilience.  Tabibnia and Radecki identified several different strategies that can help: exercise, improved sleep, healthy diet, gratitude, building support networks, mindfulness and cognitive therapy such as Trauma-Focused Cognitive Therapy that involves understanding the impact of the traumatic experience and learning coping skills by identifying triggers and developing a trauma narrative.
Apart from cognitive therapy, another effective treatment option is EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Processing) that requires a client to recall a traumatic memory and decreases the distress associated with that memory by directly altering the way it’s stored in the brain.
With a combination of appropriate treatment and self-motivation, it’s possible to heal from trauma.