Post traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD) and Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome (PTSS)- II ! by Serena Satcher, MD

Post traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD) and Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome (PTSS)- II ! by Serena Satcher, MD

More on treatments and references


Which kinds of events can cause PTSD?

PTSD causes include any type of trauma that we can think of, such as a car accident, being and ICU patient, having a baby, seeing someone get shot or being shot, or seeing someone being harmed.

PTSD triggers are events that may remind the nervous system of the original event that caused the imprint on the nervous system and the somatic symptoms.  Triggers may be smells or aromas, light, sounds, noises, situations, a person’s appearance being similar to an assailants.  It can be almost anything.

Which risk factors can exacerbate PTSD?

Previous Traumatic Experiences

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) 

History of Abuse

Family History of PTSD or Depression 

History of Substance Abuse 

Poor Coping Skills

Lack of Social Support 

Ongoing Stress

Are there any lasting effects of PTSD?

Symptoms that may be lasting or cause PTSD long term may include nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety and panic attacks, uncontrollable ruminating on frightening thoughts about the event.  People who had adverse childhood experiences or PTSD growing up may have symptoms that have lasted for their entire lives.  In order to improve the quality of life, getting treatment sooner rather than later is the most helpful for mitigating or lessening symptoms.

Can PTSD be prevented?   Studies have shown that PTSD may be mitigated in some who have been exposed to trauma and adverse events.  These are the factors that seem to improve or speed up recovery.

Continuous contact with and support from significant people in the persons’ life

Disclosing the trauma to loved ones

Identifying as a survivor as opposed to a victim

Use of positive emotion and laughter

Finding positive meaning in the trauma

Helping others in their healing process

Holding the belief that you can manage your feelings and cope


Do treatment options for PTSD vary depending on the severity of the condition?

PTSD treatments vary according to what symptom or what root cause is being addressed.  PTSD treatments may also vary according to severity.  People suffering with Insomnia or with Panic disorder may be prescribed medications that will allow them to sleep or be sedated by some doctors.  When I have been involved with treatment plans, our team choose non addictive supplements,  homeopathics, and medications proven in PTSD without addictive qualitites.

Are there any medications given to treat PTSD?

Of course Americans are looking for a pill for an ill and in my experience in being on a multidisciplinary team and treating 100’s of Veterans with PTSD, I can honestly say that there is not one pill that helps all.  The treatment is individualized depending on what is going on with the person.  The first priority is beginning to address the effects of sleep deprivation on overall health and recognizing that the lack of mind, body , spirit connection, poor lifestyle habits, and ongoing stress are blocking the natural ability to heal.  I have not seen PTSD pills or PTSD drugs, that helps everyone.  

The VA has an app called PTSD that has been shown in research to improve symptoms when used alone or in combination with medications.  It is available in the Apple and Android/google app stores.

Which therapies are used to treat PTSD?

PTSD therapies used in conventional medicine include Cognitive Behavioral therapy, family therapy, single and groups, Cognitive processing, Prolonged exposure therapy, EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, Stress inoculation training, Emotional Freedom tapping  are offered in conventional arenas.  Other methods have shown success such as Neuro-emotional technique, Psych-K, NES and bioenergetic scanning, grounding, forest bathing, negative ions from the ocean, sleep cognitive behavioral therapy, Walsh Protocol, and others.

What steps should be taken to keep PTSD from coming back?

Is PTSD curable or is it forever?  Memories cannot be erased, but as the book title by The body keeps score (by Bessel van der Kolk M.D), states the physical symptoms can be almost completely resolved.  The amount of time that takes to happen depends on a good partnership with a practitioner, supportive relationships and using a combination of treatment approaches and therapies and I mentioned.  A plan that includes treatment of autonomic dysfunction which helps the person to quickly transition into getting quality sleep and rest.  Getting sleep is one of the first steps in a lasting recovery.

5. PTSS or Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome is a term coined by Joy DeGruy, PhD and lectures, seminars and her books can be found on her website. This is a quote from her website stating the definition and the theory.

“a theory that explains the etiology of many of the adaptive survival behaviors in African American communities throughout the United States and the Diaspora. It is a condition that exists as a consequence of multigenerational oppression of Africans and their descendants resulting from centuries of chattel slavery. A form of slavery which was predicated on the belief that African Americans were inherently/genetically inferior to whites. This was then followed by institutionalized racism which continues to perpetuate injury.”

I am addressing this here because it is my belief that this should be a formal medical diagnosis covered in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental disorders) so that people seeking help may have a diagnosis attributed and therefore covered medically just as Ancestral trauma due to the Holocaust and to the slaughter of Indigenous peoples have been. The lack of acknowledgement by medical science of the multigenerational trauma/stress and death by stress furthers the chasm of disparities that everyone seems to be talking about but not allocating meaningful governmental and private resources towards to push actual change. There seems to be an expectation that if it is discussed then therefore something will change….the change is going so slow, that I have not been able to notice it.

We have a long way to go here. If you want to learn more about health disparities, please see the list of a few:

  • Infectious Diseases of Poverty.
  • Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved.
  • Journal of Health Disparities Research and Practice.
  • LGBT Health.
  • National Healthcare Quality & Disparities Reports.

References mentioned on this page

The body keeps score- by Bessel van Der Kolk, M.D.

Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome by Joy DeGruy, PhD, website

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