We look at the news and we see war. We ride down the road and we see an accident. We hear about a hurricane and worry if it will hit our region. We see children in other countries running for cover as machine guns fire over their heads. We think they must cry themselves to sleep. In all these cases, we think they are suffering with the trauma of life. In addition, even though we know this type of trauma is ugly and cruel there is an even darker side of trauma, how it ingrains itself in our children and us. Trauma can occur through an accident, a natural disaster, or violence in a community. Nevertheless, trauma and its surfacing later in life PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can be brought about by abuse. Trauma is defined as a physical threat, psychological threat or assault to a person or child’s physical integrity, sense of self, safety or survival or to the physical safety of another person significant to the person. Maybe you have suffered from trauma, or are undergoing PTSD now. Maybe you know a person or child who might be going through abuse or may be suffering from PTSD. If you or someone you know thinks they need help, this article explains what trauma is and what can be done. There is hope. Have faith, recovery is just around the corner.
Trauma can be brought about by abuse be it sexual, physical or emotional. Trauma can be caused by domestic violence, natural disasters or war, by witnessing violence, personal attack, abandonment and severe bulling. Emotional and physiological trauma is more likely to occur in a person or child if the trauma happened unexpectedly, you or the person were unprepared for it, you or the person felt powerless to prevent it, the person inflicting the trauma or abuse did it intentionally, it happened when the person was or is a child and it happened repeatedly. Interestingly, trauma can occur from prolonged stress as well. You know if you or another person may have had a traumatic experience if after the even you or the other person felt overwhelmed, alone and helpless. Trauma can also occur during a significant breakup of a relationship, a very humiliating event or after a car accident. You are also more likely to be traumatized if the event has happened before. Your resistance to trauma falls as you the event repeats itself. Children who have undergone trauma may develop the mentality that the world is a frightening place. That it is not safe for them and that it is far too dangerous to participate in it. They may withdraw and this often carries over into adulthood. What makes the trauma even more dangerous at any age are the prolonged effects that carry over even after the trauma has long since stopped. This is what is called PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Although we may not have, at the time, the ability to stop the trauma from occurring, we can stop the PTSD from ruining our lives. Everyone has the right to be free from PTSD and there are solutions that work.
Posttraumatic stress is traumatic stress that continues or persists after a traumatic even has ended but continues to affect the person or child’s capacity to function. In children, post-traumatic stress can cause the child to have difficulty sleeping, eating, focusing or even breathing. The child suffering from PTSD may startle easily, be over aroused, under aroused or dissociate. There are have two basic types of psychic trauma: one-episode or single-blow psychic trauma and repeated trauma, which arises from repeated traumatic events, such as sexual or physical abuse. Each type of trauma has its own characteristics. A child who suffers from PTSD or post-traumatic stress may avoid physical contact with others. The child may avoid eye contact and even develop rigidity in the way they play. Adults may show symptoms such as anger, irritability or they may have mood swings noticeable to others. Adults who suffer from trauma my feel guilt, shame or self-blame. They may suffer from confusion, have difficulty concentrating, suffer from anxiety, fear and feel numb. When questioned the person who suffers from trauma or posttraumatic stress may deny that those events happened or that they have PTSD. They may have nightmares, be on edge, have aches, pains or suffer from fatigue. These symptoms reoccur when new events trigger the emotions of the past trauma. The memory of a traumatic event may be repressed, but it will not be forgotten. The child or adult may later reexperience the trauma through their senses. Often this is in the form of a flashback.
If you think you are suffering from past trauma, have had past trauma and are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder there is help. If you know someone, whom you think has suffered from abuse and has posttraumatic stress there is help. If you know of a child who is suffering from trauma there is help. If it is a child, get help right away. Call your local department of social services or child protective custody. If you or someone you know had trauma occur when young then there still is help. First, though, help needs to be sought. You cannot do this alone. Seek out a therapist, a trauma specialist or a pastor skilled in family therapy. Seek help if you are having trouble functioning in your every-day life, if you are unable to have close relationships, experiencing nightmares or flashbacks, feel disconnected or are suffering from strong feelings of fear, anxiety or depression. Some of the therapies used in facilitating the healing of a person suffering from PTSD and past trauma are cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT, cognitive processing therapy or CPT and CPT with prolonged exposure or CR-PE.
While it is can be difficult to think about a past trauma clarification, acknowledgment and validation of trauma response is helpful in normalizing the experience and in slowing down the person’s fight or flight response. Of course, that person may feel that the emotions they feel regarding their trauma are unusual they are not. They often follow a pattern that is common enough to be classified. There are four broad patterns of expression of feelings that people tend to employ in response to a crisis or trauma. Some people have their feelings flow in slowly in trickles. Others hit an emotion, experience it intensely, then find it so terrifying they emotionally run from it. Many people go up and down emotionally while remembering a traumatic event. Finally, for some people who re-experience their trauma their emotions come back in tidal waves that are vast, comprehensive and overwhelming. If you’re suffering from past trauma you need to take action on your feelings, on your past experiences, even the smallest action could make the difference for you. There is help for those suffering from post-traumatic stress or PTSD.
There is help for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. There is help out there for you. Cognitive behavior therapies, cognitive processing therapy and prolonged exposure, under the guidance of a professional can help a person suffering from PTSD have a better life. You can live free from pain and suffering. You don’t have to live with the shame of the past or fearing the future. In order for you to heal from the past, you must face what you went through. You must process the trauma related memories. You must emotionally process the trauma memory through exposure and by changing the meaning of those past events. There are ways to chance how you feel about the past, the present and the future. Mood monitoring can be conducted where the person identifies their emotional highs and lows, discovering why they are occurring and changing the thought process behind those emotions. Thought recording involves being aware of automatic thought processes and cognitive distortions. Still, another way to reduce PTSD symptoms is through active relaxation, solving problems proactively and not reactively and working on a relapse prevention plan, then using it when needed. Cognitive restructuring whereby you link your affect, your behavior and your cognition then changing conclusions to better-fit reality can also help break the PTSD cycle. Writing about past trauma events and reading it back to a therapist with all of the events past emotions expressed can yield insight on a person’s self-blame. Expressing how you felt or feel about a trauma is one of the most effective ways toxic thoughts about yourself can be revealed and analyzed to see if they are realistic. In most cases, they are not. You were not to blame and this can only be challenged if you reveal it. The world is not as dangerous as you think it is but this can only be challenged if you reveal it. You can change how you feel or view an event from the past if the meaning of the event and its implications on your life changes. Finally, therapy can help you or someone you know who is suffering from PTSD discharge the constant need to fight or flight. You can finally rest. Give yourself time, time to feel what you need to feel and challenge what you feel. Ask questions about what you feel. Don’t generalize, you are loved, you can trust and you can have hope.