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 rather, they experience actual trauma. The majority of adults have experienced some form of trauma and although many of us tend to recover emotionally from accidents, assaults, and different forms of abuse, some people will endure more long-term symptoms caused by trauma, also known as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
PTSD is 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. Many people mistakenly think that post traumatic stress only happens with combat veterans and police officers, however, more than 1 in 10 people who have survived trauma will experience post traumatic symptoms. Much like a wound or injury that does not properly heal, these issues can create a great deal of pain and distress to those who are affected by them.
Symptoms of PTSD
There are many symptoms associated with PTSD, but the most common ones are:
• Psychological and physiological distress at reminders
• Avoidance of internal and external reminders
• Dissociative amnesia
• Negative beliefs about oneself and the world
• Distorted blaming of oneself
• Negative persistent emotional states
• Loss of interests
• Detachment from loved ones
• Hyper vigilance
• 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? The best we can guess is that development of PTSD is likely from a combination of complex factors such as neurological, 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 (CBT) . 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. Beyond finding a trained therapist, it’s important to find one you and your family feel comfortable with, so make sure to interview a few candidates to see who might help you on your journey to wellness.
If you or a loved one are suffering from PTSD and would like to explore treatment options, please be in touch to schedule your 20-minute free consultation. I would be more than happy to see how I may be able to help.
I am a private practice therapist and LCSW based in New York, and I see clients from all over the area – Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island, Westchester and statewide within the State of New York. I specialize in helping people who are dealing with anxiety, relationship issues, chronic illness and digestive and adult trauma related to childhood family dynamics. We all deserve a chance to be well and have support, and I would love to be there for you during this difficult time.