Most of us won’t get through life without our own fair share of stress and heartache. But some people experience not just stress, sadness or grief, but actual trauma, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This can be from events like being involved in a bad car accident, being sexually assaulted, witnessing/experiencing violence, living through a natural disaster, or going to war.
The result of experiencing such events is called PTSD, a condition where the mind is unable to process the event as it processes ordinary life events. The result is a brain that misfires information, causing the person to live much of their life distressed, as if the event were still happening to them. You might feel stuck in fight-or-flight mode, even when there isn’t any real danger around you.
Symptoms of PTSD
There are many symptoms associated with PTSD, but the most common ones are:
- Psychological and physiological distress at reminders of the traumatic event
- Avoidance of reminders of the traumatic event
- Dissociative amnesia
- Negative beliefs about oneself and the world
- Distorted blaming of oneself
- Negative persistent emotional states
- Loss of interests
- Detachment from loved ones
- Exaggerated startle response
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty sleeping
- Irritability or outbursts of anger
- Self-destructive or reckless behavior
Causes of PTSD
Researchers are not altogether clear on why some people experience PTSD and others don’t. What makes one soldier come home from war with PTSD and another one not develop the disorder at all?
The best we can guess is that development of PTSD is likely from a combination of complex factors such as neurological makeup, stress, life experiences, personality, and genetics. It is also worth mentioning that pre-traumatic psychological factors (low self-esteem, for example) may increase the risk factor for developing PTSD.
How Can Trauma be Treated?
The most common form of treatment for PTSD is something called cognitive behavioral therapy. This kind of therapy involves meeting with a specially-trained therapist over a number of sessions to learn strategies and techniques that will reduce and/or eliminate symptoms of PTSD such as recurring thoughts, emotional numbness, sleep issues, and concentration problems.
Trauma can also be treated using Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. EMDR is a type of trauma therapy that consists of eight-phases. It utilizes the power of rapid eye movement to significantly speed up individual’s processing of past trauma. Studies have shown that EMDR has a high success rate, with clinical tests finding that roughly 77% of patients felt relief from PTSD symptoms in as little as three sessions.
Beyond finding a trained therapist, it’s important to find one you and your family feel comfortable with, so make sure to speak with our Care Coordinator so she can help pair your with the therapist that will be the best fit. Give us a call at (910) 202-4326 or fill out our online form to be contacted about scheduling with one of our therapists specializing in trauma.