Traumatic experiences can leave you feeling frightened, alone, numb or distrusting. While every individual responds to trauma differently, one fact remains clear: It takes time to recover from emotional trauma, and treatment can help. You can heal. You can reclaim your life and move forward.
What Is Emotional Trauma?
Emotional trauma results from stressful events that shake your sense that the world is a safe place to be. You may feel helpless and vulnerable and in a state of constant alert. While people typically think of life-threatening events (such as violent attacks) as trauma-inducing, any situation or experience that leaves you feeling overwhelmed or unsafe can lead to emotional trauma. This is particularly true when the event happened unexpectedly or repeatedly, you felt powerless to prevent or stop it, or someone was intentionally brutal.
Whether it’s a one-time event or an ongoing stressor, a life-or-death situation or an injury or illness, growing up in a neglectful home or the death of a loved one, trauma is in the eye of the beholder. What matters is your experience of the event and your reaction, whatever it may be, is normal. If you have a history of traumatic experiences or stressful life events, you are more vulnerable to the effects of current traumas.
Symptoms of Emotional Trauma:
If you aren’t bouncing back from a traumatic event in your life, whether it occurred in childhood or more recently, take heart. trauma can be effectively treated. You can feel safe and empowered once again. Depending on the trauma you can be healthy in matter of weeks up to two to three years.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a severe form of anxiety triggered by a terrifying or threatening event. The normal reaction to danger is “fight, flight freeze, and or fragment” which ensures our safety and survival and diminishes when the crisis is over. With PTSD, symptoms may get worse over time, lingering for months, making it extremely difficult to function day to day. The stress and fear persist even when the danger is gone.
Symptoms of PTSD
Women and men with post-traumatic stress disorder may experience a wide range of symptoms, including:
Various situations, objects and sounds can trigger a re-experiencing of the trauma as well as attempts to avoid remembering. Some people relive the trauma repeatedly, complete with physical symptoms like sweating, muscle tension and racing heart. Others feel continuously stressed, which makes it difficult to concentrate, eat, sleep and manage emotions. People who have PTSD run a greater risk of substance abuse, depression, eating disorders and other mental health issues, as well as certain physical illnesses such as heart disease, chronic pain and other conditions.
When people have these symptoms for 3 days to 3 weeks after a traumatic event, the condition is called Acute Stress Disorder (ASD). If symptoms persist beyond 4 weeks, they might have PTSD.
Symptoms can even arise weeks or months, and years after a traumatic event and may come and go depending on general stress levels or reminders of the trauma (e.g., seeing a story about a sexual abuse or assault on the news may be a reminder of one’s own experience).
PTSD can arise any time an individual experiences, witnesses or learns about a traumatic event. Life experiences, including previous trauma as well as genetic predispositions for anxiety, depression or other mental illnesses, may increase the likelihood of developing PTSD. Other risk factors include temperament, brain chemistry and lack of a social support system.
Why do some people develop PTSD when others do not? People are more likely to struggle with trauma if they are under heavy stress, recently suffered a series of losses or have been traumatized before, especially at a young age. Each person reacts differently and any reaction is normal and understandable in the face of abnormal events.
Since traumatic events can occur any time, PTSD can develop at any age. Some of the events that can lead to PTSD include combat, accidents, being diagnosed with illness, sudden loss of a loved one, natural disasters, abuse, incest, rape and other serious events, though the disorder also can develop any time someone feels alone, overwhelmed or at risk of harm.
Treatment for PTSD
Treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder typically includes medication with psychotherapy and hypnotherapy. Erick Sandstad works in conjunction with your psychiatrist to identify your core issues and work at your own pace. We also recommend you join a specialized grief and loss group for men or women’s empowerment group as a vital part of healing for trauma survivors.
Since trauma is held not only in the brain but also in the body, clients have access to the full range of trauma therapies, including EMDR, Brainspotting Therapy, Diaphragmatic Breathing for Tension Release and Increase Awareness, Progressive Relaxation, Self-Hypnosis and Trauma Reversal Hypnotherapy sessions. Research on PTSD is constantly evolving as are treatment approaches and options. With help, clients can regain their sense of safety, confidence, trust and control and develop healthy coping skills to manage their emotions.
SHADOWS BEFORE DAWN, by Teal Swan
WAKING THE TIGER by Peter A Levine
THE BODY KEEPS THE SCORE by Bessel Van Der Kolk
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