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Ariana Grande’s scans reveal just how much of an impact PTSD has had on her brain

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Kayleigh Dray
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NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 06: Singer/songwriter Ariana Grande attends the Billboard's 13th Annual Women in Music event at Pier 36 on December 6, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)

The singer, who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after the Manchester Arena attack, shared the images to her Instagram Stories.

Ariana Grande has always made a conscious effort to be open and upfront about her mental health. And, earlier this week, the singer continued her campaign to raise awareness (and encourage conversation) by sharing a photo which visibly demonstrates the impact post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has had on her brain. 

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Taking to Instagram Stories, Grande shared a snapshot of a text message she had recently sent to her friends.

Within this message were three brain scan images, two of which showed a comparison between a “healthy brain” and “PTSD brain”. 

The third scan depicted Grande’s own brain, and it doesn’t take a doctor to see which of the previous images her brain is most similar to.

“Guys…” she wrote in the group message, adding, “my brain.” 

To her fans, though, Grande noted that she had found the revelation about her brain to be both “hilarious and terrifying”.

Grande was diagnosed with PTSD in 2017, just months after a man walked into the Manchester Arena and detonated a bomb at her concert, killing 22 people and injuring many others.

“Yeah, it’s a real thing. I know those families and my fans, and everyone there experienced a tremendous amount of it as well,” the singer previously told Vogue.

“It’s hard to talk about because so many people have suffered such severe, tremendous loss … I feel like I shouldn’t even be talking about my own experience – like I shouldn’t even say anything. I don’t think I’ll ever know how to talk about it and not cry.”

She also spoke of a longer-term experience with anxiety. “I think a lot of people have anxiety, especially right now … My anxiety has anxiety … I’ve always had anxiety. I’ve never really spoken about it because I thought everyone had it, but when I got home from tour [in September 2017] it was the most severe I think it’s ever been.”

According to a study survey in 2014 by adult psychiatric morbidity survey found around 4 in 100 people suffer from PTSD at some stage in the lives.

This means that (as noted by the NHS) PTSD can affect anyone who has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event, regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity or social status.

Symptoms of PTSD can include:

  • flashbacks, nightmares or frightening thoughts
  • sweating and shaking
  • avoidance of reminders of the event and a refusal to discuss the experience
  • numbness and feelings of estrangement or detachment from others
  • inability to remember aspects of the traumatic event
  • decreased interest in life
  • increased consciousness of one’s own mortality
  • flight/fight syndrome
  • problems with concentration
  • problems with sleeping
  • irritability or outbursts of anger
  • hyper-vigilance and alertness to possible danger
  • re-experiencing the traumatic event
  • feelings of guilt

PTSD often involves periods of symptom remission followed by an increase of symptoms. However, some people will experience severe and unremitting symptoms.

“Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is used to describe a range of psychological symptoms which can follow traumatic events. PTSD can be triggered by anything that consciously, or unconsciously, reminds an individual of a specific trauma in their lives,” Stephen Buckley, head of information at Mind, tells Stylist.co.uk. “Symptoms can include vivid flashbacks, nightmares, lack of sleep and feeling emotionally cut-off.”

Seeking support is crucial in coping with PTSD. 

Buckley says: “We would advise anyone who thinks they might be experiencing a mental health problem to seek support – speak to a friend or family member, visit your GP or call the Mind infoline on 0300 123 3393 for more information.”

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If you’re struggling with anxiety or PTSD, or know someone who is, the following sites may also be useful:

Images: Getty 

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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