Trauma / PTSD

Estimates are that 50-60% of the U.S. population report that they have experienced at least one traumatic event in their lifetime. Considering that some additional people may not want to report their experience, it seems fair to say that at least half, possibly approaching 75% of the US population will have gone through a traumatic event. This may be significantly higher in areas of the world marked by war, economic instability, and social upheaval.

A traumatic event is something dangerous and often shocking that you either witness or experience, where you have genuine fear for the safety or life of yourself or someone close to you. Sometimes these events are one-time situations, but other times they can persist chronically for many years.

A small sampling of traumatic events can include things like:

  • Significant weather events and natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, tornados, landslides, floods, wildfires, droughts, sinkholes
  • Sexual trauma such as molestation and rape
  • Car accidents
  • Terror attacks
  • Physical / emotional abuse and neglect
  • Scary medical diagnoses and treatments
  • Bullying
  • Mass shootings
  • Community violence
  • Muggings
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Refugee status
  • genocide
  • Sudden loss of a loved one
  • First responders and medical and social service workers who are exposed to traumatic events

These can happen at any age, and many variables go into determining how someone is likely to respond. Most people who experience trauma will not develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Most people will have at least some difficulty coping shortly after the event, but for most people this gradually subsides and within weeks or months they are able to resume functioning at their previous level. However, a very substantial minority of the population will develop long lasting symptoms that interfere with functioning and can trigger feelings of guilt, shame, and detachment. Rates are higher among people who have experienced prolonged chronic trauma, and a relatively new term of ‘Complex PTSD’ has been developed to highlight the unique struggles of this population.

Symptoms of PTSD can include but are not limited to:

  • Increased startle response
  • Flashbacks, which are a multi-sensory experience where one feels and sees exactly what was happening during the event as if it were happening in the here and now.
  • Avoidance of emotions
  • Avoidance of memory triggers
  • Increased alcohol consumption
  • Survivor’s guilt
  • Sleep problems and nightmares
  • Anger and sadness
  • Intrusive thoughts of the event
  • Mistrust of others
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Reckless behavior

People with PTSD often feel distant and unable to relate to people who have not experienced the trauma, and these symptoms can have significant problems in relationships with family and friends, as well as ability to function effectively in work or school. There are many treatments out there for PTSD such as:

  • Exposure Therapy
  • Cognitive Processing Therapy
  • Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy
  • Stress-Inoculation Therapy
  • EMDR
  • Hypnosis
  • Medication

These therapies have differing levels of effectiveness, and some people prefer some over others. Please reach out to us to discuss whether we can help match you with a clinician who can discuss the treatment options and tailor a plan to help reduce and manage your symptoms, boost your ability to function, and enhance your quality of life.



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