PTSD & Trauma Counseling
What is ptsd/trauma?
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Trauma is an anxiety disorder that typically develops from significant, shocking, and life changing experiences. It can develop from a single, isolated incident, such as experiencing a terrifying car accident, and accumulative experiences, such as repeated childhood abuse. In fact, there are many different types of experiences that can lead to one feeling traumatized. Trauma is intrusive and has a direct impact on your mood and how you live your life. You may have thoughts, dreams, or emotions that make you feel like you are reliving the experience. You may avoid situations that trigger the traumatic memories and feelings. Perhaps you become vigilant, waiting for the traumatic experience to return, purely existing in “survival mode.” There are different types and symptoms of trauma, but all of them result in some form of contraction or narrowing of living a more engaged, expansive, and meaningful life.
Who gets ptsd/trauma?
Anyone can get PTSD at any age. This includes war veterans and survivors of physical and sexual assault, abuse, accidents, disasters and many other traumatic events. Not everyone with PTSD has been through a dangerous event. Some people get PTSD after a friend or family member experiences danger or harm. The sudden, unexpected death of a loved one can also cause PTSD.
Trauma research, clinical experience, and neuroscience all point to the many ways that traumatic experiences are stored in the body resulting in changes in the brain and cascading down to changes on a chemical and cellular level. This is the reason that traditional talk therapy is not sufficient for treatment. A well-trained and qualified trauma therapist is responsible for treatment. In therapy, the therapist works together with the client to identify and strengthen internal resources to help them take care of themselves, address the symptoms they are experiencing, and most importantly, work to heal the psychological injury that has occurred. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (which you can read more about here) is frequently used and many clients report that, while they have not forgotten the original traumatic incident or any of the details, the memories no longer seem as intense or painful and there is less distress about them.
Symptoms of PTSD/Trauma Include:
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape or other violent personal assault.
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur in all people, in people of any ethnicity, nationality or culture, and any age. PTSD affects approximately 3.5 percent of U.S. adults, and an estimated one in 11 people will be diagnosed PTSD in their lifetime. Women are twice as likely as men to have PTSD.
People with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience that last long after the traumatic event has ended. They may relive the event through flashbacks or nightmares; they may feel sadness, fear or anger; and they may feel detached or estranged from other people. People with PTSD may avoid situations or people that remind them of the traumatic event, and they may have strong negative reactions to something as ordinary as a loud noise or an accidental touch.
To diagnose post-traumatic stress disorder, your doctor will likely:
- Perform a physical exam to check for medical problems that may be causing your symptoms
- Do a psychological evaluation that includes a discussion of your signs and symptoms and the event or events that led up to them
- Use the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association
Diagnosis of PTSD requires exposure to an event that involved the actual or possible threat of death, violence or serious injury. Your exposure can happen in one or more of these ways:
- You directly experienced the traumatic event
- You witnessed, in person, the traumatic event occurring to others
- You learned someone close to you experienced or was threatened by the traumatic event
- You are repeatedly exposed to graphic details of traumatic events (for example, if you are a first responder to the scene of traumatic events)
Posttraumatic stress disorder treatment can help you regain a sense of control over your life. The primary treatment is psychotherapy, but can also include medication. Combining these treatments can help improve your symptoms by:
- Teaching you skills to address your symptoms
- Helping you think better about yourself, others and the world
- Learning ways to cope if any symptoms arise again
- Treating other problems often related to traumatic experiences, such as depression, anxiety, or misuse of alcohol or drugs
Curious if You have PTSD?
Video: WHAT IS PTSD?
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Below are some posts on PTSD/Trauma that may be helpful to you in your quest to learn more for yourself or those you love.