PTSD and Gulf War Syndrome affect the brain structurally as well as chemically. The disrutption of the circadian clock as a result of trauma can initiate a cascade of chemical changes within the autonomic nervous system. Parasympathetic and Sympathetic nervous system disruption can eventually lead to upregulation and downregulation of specific neuron receptor sites and an overall deficiency in neurotransmitter levels. The importance of the vagus nerve can no longer be ignored. It is time for those treating and suffering from PTSD to recognize the importance of parasympathetic activity and acetylcholine. Ignoring these facets of this multifaceted disorder will ulitmately yield poor clinical results, as evidenced by the last 25 years of treatment. CBT, EMDR, and pharmacotherapy can only address part of the complexities of PTSD and will consistently fail to yeild positive clinical outcomes in the face of this ever complex disease.
Traumatic events and the constant stress of battle conditions stimulates the overproduction of plasma epinephrine and creates an imbalance between the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) and the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS). Imbalanced Autonomic Nervous System function can lead to impaired neurotransmitter production and deficiencies of Acetylcholine, Glutamate, Serotonin, and GABA.