What is Trauma?
The word “trauma” is used to describe experiences or situations that are emotionally painful and distressing, and that overwhelm people’s ability to cope. Such experiences or situations can include sexual and physical assault, motor vehicle accidents, being taken hostage or attacked, torture, natural disasters, and life-threatening illnesses, as well as witnessing death or serious injury by violent attacks, accidents or war. Experience of a traumatic incident usually results in a post-traumatic stress response.
Signs and Symptoms of PTSD
The signs and symptoms of PTSD fall within three categories:
- Intrusive, upsetting memories of the event
- Flashbacks (acting or feeling like the event is happening again)
- Nightmares (either of the event or of other frightening things)
- Feelings of intense distress when reminded of the trauma
- Intense physical reactions to reminders of the event (e.g. pounding heart, rapid breathing, nausea, muscle tension, sweating
- Avoiding activities, places, thoughts, or feelings that remind you of the trauma
- Inability to remember important aspects of the trauma
- Loss of interest in activities and life in general
- Feeling detached from others and emotionally numb
- Sense of a limited future (you don’t expect to live a normal life span, get married, have a career)
Increased Emotional Arousal
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Irritability or outbursts of anger
- Difficulty concentrating
- Hyper vigilance (on constant “red alert”)
- Feeling jumpy and easily startled
If you have been experiencing most or all of these symptoms for a period of more than a month following the traumatic event, then a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder can be made.
How is Trauma and PTSD treated?
Earlier intervention is always preferable, particularly because post-traumatic stress disorder can be so debilitating and impair functioning.
Sometimes medication is used in the treatment of the condition, especially when the client is experiencing symptoms of depression or struggling to cope with their anxiety.
The therapy will more than likely focus on the trauma itself and allow the person a safe space in which they can talk about what happened and process the trauma properly so that it ceases to affect them in such an emotionally arousing way.
Cognitive behaviour therapy is used when anxiety around similar events or situations is very high.
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How Can Counselling Help?
After counselling, the client can expect to feel less hypervigilance and anxiety. They will more than likely be able to re-tell the event without any significant emotional or psychological distress. The trauma counselling will have re-processed the memory in such a way that it no longer affects the person in a negative and distressing way.
In some cases, where severe anxiety or depression are experienced, the counselling will help the client find more effective coping skills that allows them to manage their emotions in a more controlled and positive way. The client will likely leave therapy with a more rational outlook, having challenged any distortions on their thinking that contributes to general distress.
Counselling also helps the significant family and friends of the client to understand the difficulties the client is facing. In this way, the client can also expect to receive more empathic support and the family and friends can feel more comfortable in their handling of the situation.
Get back into your life
When you’re struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, there is a strong tendency to withdraw and isolate yourself. Perhaps leaving home feels too daunting and scary. You have to get back onto the proverbial horse, so to speak and engage with people around you. Find supportive friends and family that can help you through this difficult time, but resist the urge to withdraw yourself completely.
If you feel like you are under trauma and stress, or you are concerned about someone you love, contact us about our counselling services today.
Take Action Today
Professional treatment and support is crucial for anyone struggling with the effects of trauma.
At CFHP, trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder is available for anyone seeking help to take back control of their life.
Our dedicated Brisbane PTSD psychologists will work with you to achieve your goals and maintain positive change, driving you to move forward and become the ‘you’ you want to be.
Take the first step on the road to recovery and contact us today.