POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD) & Therapy for Trauma
Do you find that there are certain images, sounds or thoughts trigger traumatic memories that make it difficult for you to have a healthy and happy life? Do you find you are constantly on edge, worried the fear, pain, and distress you are experiencing will never end? Logically, do you know that you didn’t cause or deserve what happened, but your emotions aren’t letting you feel that way? Maybe you have survived a car accident, violent crime or physical or sexual abuse. Maybe you experience physical symptoms such as tension, difficulty breathing or a racing heartbeat, or you shut down emotionally and physically as your mind replays the memory of a traumatic event. You may criticize yourself or feel ashamed when unwanted images run through your mind. Or you might become hyper-vigilant in an effort to push back uncomfortable thoughts and feelings.
It can be difficult to keep up with daily obligations or sleep at night when your mind and body are constantly in an activated state or a fight-or-flight mode. You may experience distance from these events or “numbing” to intense emotions and the risk of pain, which in turn can create conflict or distance in your relationships. Over time, the weight of such chronic worry, stress, and fear can leave you feeling anxious and depressed. Do you find yourself feeling guilt or blame for your trauma or PTSD? Do you wish you could escape the self-criticism and feelings of shame surrounding the traumatic event so you could feel calm and in control again? Or, do you wish you knew how to help a loved one who is suffering from trauma or PTSD?
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Trauma is Experienced by Different People Differently:
Our ability to maintain healthy mental, emotional and physical wellbeing depends on several factors, including genetics, cultural influence, learned skills, family relationships, and available resources. An experience that is traumatic for others may not present any noticeable challenges for you. Similarly, you may struggle to cope with certain events or situations that others seem able to process and move past with little apparent difficulty. Trauma can result from many causes, even painful or frightening experiences from early childhood. While trauma and PTSD are often associated with physical or sexual abuse, violent crime, military or police service, other events, such as difficult pregnancy, a car accident, an illness/injury or the loss of a loved one, can also cause traumatic stress.
It takes courage and often the will to ask for help from the right sources to heal from trauma. If you recognize that you are in pain, have answered yes to any of the questions posed in the beginning of this article, and it’s disrupting the way you want to experience your life and relationships, there are steps you can take to find relief and healing. With evidence-based approaches to the treatment of trauma and relationships at Integrated Counseling and Wellness, you can finally gain control over the effects of trauma in your life to move forward with greater peach and healed relationships.
Seven ideas to help with childhood trauma:
Here are a few ideas that can help with healing from childhood trauma:
First –Acknowledge and recognize the trauma. Victims of childhood trauma spend years putting the past behind them and forgetting the events. This doesn’t heal childhood trauma in any way and could cause feelings of guilt or self-blame. The best way that you can begin to heal from early trauma is by acknowledging the event did happen and that you were not responsible nor to blame for what happened.
Second–Reclaim control. When you’re a victim of childhood trauma, the past can take control of your present. Feelings of helplessness can carry into adulthood if nothing is done to receive professional help and support to reclaim control. If you’re willing to acknowledge the trauma and its influence and control in your life and want to regain control, we are here to help.
Third–Seek support and don’t isolate yourself. One thing that victims of childhood trauma carry with them is the difficulty to maintain healthy relationships and social lives. A large part of the healing process is to learn new ways to connect with the people around you, maintaining your relationships and seek support – this can include a support group.
Fourth–Take care of your health. Your ability to cope with past stress will increase if you maintain optimal health. A daily routine to get enough rest, have a well-balanced diet and exercise regularly can prop up your immune system and manage the flow of stress hormones in the blood. One of the most important things is to stay away from alcohol and drugs as these can trigger depression and other health issues.
Fifth -Learn acceptance and letting go. Accepting your trauma is only the beginning of the recovery journey. Just because you accept what happened doesn’t mean you’re condoning or embracing what happened or that you agree with it. Once you decide to accept it, you can decide not to let it rule your life and begin the process of letting go. To let go doesn’t mean that the issues stemming from your trauma are gone, it means that you will no longer allow them to rob you of your life.
Sixth–Replace unhealthy habits with good ones. Unhealthy habits can make it hard to overcome childhood trauma. Most trauma habits fall into the destructive categories of drugs, bad behaviors and other forms of negativity (cognition). A support group or therapist can help you learn the tools necessary to break your bad habits and create good ones in their place.
Finally–Be patient with yourself. When you have had trauma in your childhood, you can go through several types of emotions like feeling out of control, hopelessness, warped perceptions and defense mechanisms that are hard to let go of. Learn to control these emotions with therapy and/or support groups.