Psychological Trauma may set in after one has experienced a severe distressing or life threatening event. Immediately after an event, shock and denial are typical. Longer term reactions can include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships and even physical symptoms like headaches or nausea. While these feelings are normal, some people have difficulty moving on with their lives.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):
Post-Traumatic Stress disorder was once considered an anxiety disorder but today is looked at a specific disorder related to trauma. There are many different types of trauma that one may experience in their lives that can bring on PTSD symptoms.
Below are some of the symptoms associated with PTSD.
The traumatic event is persistently re-experienced in any of the following ways:
- Recurrent and intrusive distressing recollections of the event, including images, thoughts or perceptions;
- Recurrent distressing dreams of the event;
- Acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring (e.g. reliving the experience, illusions, hallucinations, and dissociative flashback episodes, including those on wakening or when intoxicated);
- Intense psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event;
- Physiological reactivity on exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event.
Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and numbing of general responsiveness (not present before the trauma) as indicated by at least three of:
- Efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings or conversations associated with the trauma;
- Efforts to avoid activities, places or people that arouse recollections of this trauma;
- Inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma;
- Markedly diminished interest or participation in significant activities;
- Feeling of detachment or estrangement from others;
- Restricted range of affect (e.g. unable to have loving feelings);
- Sense of a foreshortened future (e.g. does not expect to have a career, marriage, children or a normal life span).
Persistent symptoms of increased arousal (not present before the trauma) as indicated by at least two of the following:
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep;
- Irritability or outbursts of anger;
- Difficulty concentrating;
- Exaggerated startle response.
Treatment for PTSD:
There are a variety of treatments for PTSD and different people respond differently to different types of treatment. There is no one treatment fits all. Medication can work well for many to help manage some acute symptoms. Psychotherapy is an important component to recovery for people who have experienced trauma.
Crisis Counseling is a type of counseling that happens right after a trauma. The goal is to provide immediate support and help stabilize the individual. Crisis counseling is meant to help an individual get through the initial shock following the crisis and provide them with all the necessary resources to help in their recovery.
There are many approaches to Psychotherapy that can be helpful: Cognitive Behavioral therapy allows clients to look at the various thoughts that are affecting feelings and behaviors. Narrative therapy is a type of therapy that allows people to retell the events of the story and eventually recreate a story of recovery. Insight oriented therapy can help individuals understand how a current trauma may bring up past unresolved trauma. Relaxation, meditation, and Reiki can be ways to help individuals release the trauma held in their bodies. A treatment plan needs to be put together that the individual is ready for.