Therapy

What is Trauma?

trau·ma
/ˈtroumə,ˈtrômə/
noun

1. a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.
“a personal trauma like the death of a child”

 

 

What is trauma? Have I suffered trauma? How do I know if I suffer from trauma? These questions are all too common. We associate trauma with the death of someone, or with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) often experienced by those who have served in the military or as first responders.   But have you experienced trauma?

Trauma is often a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. Trauma is painful, powerful, and overwhelming. It could be the loss of someone close to you, or it could be the treatment you experienced as a child. It could be from moving excessively and needing to restart. It could be a divorce or a car accident. These are just some examples. Trauma comes in all shapes and forms, but it is nevertheless trauma.

Trauma can show up as physical symptoms, leading the individual to seek a physician’s help when the root cause could truly be trauma. Tests that do not provide a diagnosis, medications prescribed with no relief, medical procedures that lead to nothing other than a drained lifestyle..

Trauma can show up as physical symptoms, leading the individual to seek a physician’s help when the root cause could truly be trauma. Tests that do not provide a diagnosis, medications prescribed with no relief, medical procedures that lead to nothing other than a drained lifestyle..

Sometimes though, it isn’t physical. It’s anxiety, or depression. If a person isn’t aware that they have experienced trauma then trauma can be overlooked. When we experience a traumatic event, the brain releases endorphins these help numb the physical and emotional pain during the experience. This allows our bodies to cope. Sometimes, our body and brain aren’t given the opportunity to process the event or the emotions in the experience, then the event gets “stuck” and we end up reliving the experience or being unable to move past the experience or we over-react to circumstances that trigger our body and our brain.

And so you cope. Some resort to self-medication like substance abuse or unhealthy habits like eating, some choose to cope medicinally, others find safety in therapy. What’s hard is that trauma is an individualized experience, what was traumatic for you might not be traumatic for the next person. A person who is experiencing trauma can therefore reflect best on their experience based on their feelings, what they are thinking, and what they are going through.

People who experience trauma and PTSD often turn to alcohol and other substances to manage the intense flood of emotions and traumatic reminders. They may also use it to try to numb themselves. Drugs and alcohol may initially dull the effects of trauma and help manage associated distress, but a dangerous cycle may begin. – GoodTherapy.com.

So what does this mean? How do you manage trauma, and more importantly, can it be fixed?
The good news is yes, therapy offers various approaches to solving trauma.

Treatment of trauma can help you regain a sense of control over your life. The primary treatment is psychotherapy, but can also include medication. According to the Mayoclinic.org (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20355973) combining these treatments can help improve your symptoms by:

• Teaching you skills to address your symptoms
• Helping you think better about yourself, others and the world
• Learning ways to cope if any symptoms arise again
• Treating other problems often related to traumatic experiences, such as depression, anxiety, or misuse of alcohol or drugs
This isn’t a battle you have to fight on your own.

Several types of therapy may be used to treat children and adults with trauma symptoms or PTSD. Some types of psychotherapy used include (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20355973):

Cognitive therapy. This type of talk therapy helps you recognize the ways of thinking (cognitive patterns) that are keeping you stuck — for example, negative beliefs about yourself and the risk of traumatic things happening again. For PTSD, cognitive therapy often is used along with exposure therapy.

Exposure therapy. This behavioral therapy helps you safely face both situations and memories that you find frightening so that you can learn to cope with them effectively. Exposure therapy can be particularly helpful for flashbacks and nightmares. One approach uses virtual reality programs that allow you to re-enter the setting in which you experienced trauma.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). EMDR combines exposure therapy with a series of guided bilateral movements that help you process traumatic memories and change how you react to them.

Even better news, is that Reframed Psychological has therapists who actively use these methods to help clients with trauma and PTSD on a regular basis.

If you, or someone you know is struggling with trauma or PTSD, send them to our website so that they can learn a little more about our practice and therapists. Let them know they aren’t alone, and that they do not have to continue suffering.

We are here to reframe your experiences with trauma and give you a whole new outlook.