How Is Trauma Impacting My Mind And Body?
It’s not always obvious, or easy to explain. At times, you feel hypervigilant, needing to always be on the lookout for danger signals from your environment. Other times, you feel shut down, almost numb, and have difficulty even identifying what it is that you are feeling, if anything at all.
If you have experienced trauma, you may be very well aware of the emotional, psychological and physical stressors that weigh you down, sometimes on a daily basis. The people closest to you may try their best to understand or help, but they don’t really get what it is like to live on constant alert mode.
So many facets of your life are impacted that feel out of your control. Relationships are ruptured, responsibilities are difficult to meet and your body may manifest the traumatic stress in the form of illness or chronic pain.
Recovery from your trauma is possible, but sometimes, the effects of trauma endure and come with symptoms that affect the way that our brain’s alarm system responds to memories, sounds, and even trauma-related dreams called flashbacks.
When you are experiencing flashbacks, it is difficult to differentiate what is real danger in the moment, and what is not, because the feelings and physical sensations are just so intense, that it feels as if you were right back there. If this is happening to you, you may be experiencing symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
You don’t need to have extreme or long-term symptoms of PTSD in order to experience other symptoms of trauma, which often look very similar to depression and anxiety ,and can also manifest themselves through physical health issues.
For example, you may find that you are experiencing difficulty with sleeping through the night, concentrating on daily tasks, addressing certain situations, unable to stop thinking about the traumatic event that you experienced, extreme physical or emotional reactions, or a significant negative change in your mood or way of thinking about yourself, the world or the future.
All of these are potential warning signs of trauma and PTSD. Psychotherapy can help you learn the tools to lower your anxiety, reduce your fear response and learn both mind and body techniques that will help calm your body, so as to relieve the heightened physical and emotional sensations that so often take over.
PTSD doesn’t just affect combat veterans
You’re probably very well aware that normal, everyday people struggle with the effects of trauma and PTSD. When we experience a traumatic event, our brains desperately try to retain that information so that we are aware of the threat, in case it happens again.
But here’s the problem with that: Some people’s bodies respond to these “threats” by forcing them into chronic and extreme states of high alert or “hypervigilance”. This hypervigilance is particularly heightened when those things “trigger” or initiate a flashback, where those difficult experiences are relived.
Left untreated, these symptoms can affect your health, your relationships, your career, and your life. Over time, these experiences will also dramatically impact your mood and feelings of well-being. Like a wound that’s never properly healed, these issues can cause a great deal of recurring pain for those affected by them.
Coping with Trauma and PTSD Through Avoidance
Trauma and PTSD will often leave you feeling void of motivation or feeling that avoiding many parts of everyday life is the answer to not reliving those awful feelings. Getting loved ones to understand your experience can be isolating, frustrating, and can leave you feeling ashamed. It can seem as though you are the only person who feels the way that you feel.
So, what do we do to cope with the fear and shame? We avoid. We avoid going to certain places, we avoid talking about certain things, we avoid people who have certain characteristics, we avoid driving, swimming, dating, in summary, we avoid life.
But,while avoidance feels like it is the best way to not re-experience the fear or threat, it is actually working as a reinforcement that you still have something to be afraid of, even if the threat is actually long-gone.
How will therapy help me recover from trauma and PTSD?
Even the most well-meaning person can leave you feeling invalidated as they try to make you “feel better”. Instead, you end up feeling that they don’t want to listen to you, and that you are burdening them with your problems.
Therapy provides a safe, supportive, and confidential space for you to work towards healing.
Depending on your needs, we often incorporate a number of different treatments, including Trauma-Informed Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), Exposure Response Therapy (ERP), Somatic work to help reconnect the mind and body in calmer and less reactive ways, and Brainspotting.
You will have the chance to speak freely about yourself and your experiences. You can share your life story, and build trust at a pace that feels comfortable for you.
We will use trauma-informed care to ensure that you feel safe. And, we will do all we can to decrease the effects of potential triggers that may be related to your trauma and PTSD.
I’m not sure if I’m ready for help.
It’s not always clear when help is needed, and that is okay. When you are ready, therapy can help you to:
- Rediscover who you are, without the constant fears and anxieties
- Be able to be present without worrying about what may happen later or tomorrow
- Increase your motivation
- Learn long-term coping techniques for body and mind
- Feel worthy of _________ (you fill in the blanks!)
- Just get some sleep…
Other Specific Types of Trauma
Start Your Healing Journey
Living with the aftereffects of trauma or struggling with PTSD is difficult, but you are not alone and you don’t have to live this way forever.
If you would like to talk through these experiences with a trained professional, reach out today to see if we are a good fit.
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