Trauma in its simplest form is the experience of something life altering (maybe even shattering) and unexpected that increases anxiety and often has elements of sadness and grief. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can develop from the trauma if symtpoms of flashbacks, fear, hypervigilence, lack of sleep, difficulty concetrating, extreme sadness and withdrawl, and problems in relationships develop over 30 days after the event. However, not all traumas result in PTSD but that does not diminish their significance to the person or persons having experienced the trauma.
Often people ask:
“How do I not let things [symptoms] get worse?”
“Why do I need therapy and how will it help?”
“Can I avoid PTSD?”
“How can I help my loved one?”
Therapy is a very pivital part of the process in helping coping, processing, provide support, and adjustment for individuals having experienced traumas.
How we can mitigate the damage of a traumatic experience is to seek support of safe others in an effort to process what has been experienced. Whether that be through formal therapy or utilizing networks in the world around.
Formal therapy can be provide by a skilled clinician that will guide you towards better coping and help you more effectively move through life and function through your symptoms.
Often therapist will utilize Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) in the form of exposure work, Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR), Dialectical Behavior Therapry (DBT), and many many more skills; all of which help processing and improved functioning.
If not utilizing formal treatment I encourage indivividuals to go to support groups (often through churchs or community centers), as well as utilize the internet.
Medication is also an option to ameliorate sympotms and improve functioning. I caution that medication will not cure or fix one’s problems or improve coping as a whole but it can help make functioning easier.
If it is not yourself that has experienced the trauma but rather a loved one, friend, co-worker, or employee please consider sharing this information as well being supportive and encouraging. Do not be judgmental and most of all be patient. Everyone processes events differently.
Below are some websites and books that may be informative and helpful:
Trauma and Recovery: the Aftermath of Violence from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror by Judith Herman
The Body Awareness Workbook for Trauma: Release Trauma from Your Body, Find Emotional Balance, and Connect With Your Inner Wisdom: by Julie Brown