According to the American Psychological Association (APA) [1], trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape, or natural disaster. Immediately after the event, shock and denial are typical. Longer-term reactions include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships, and even physical symptoms like headaches or nausea. While these feelings are normal, some people have difficulty moving on with their lives. Psychologists can help these individuals find constructive ways of managing their emotions. Trauma Treatment often focuses on helping people integrate their emotional response to the trauma.

Different Reactions to Trauma

When trauma happens, individuals can react in a few different ways. Some might adopt avoidance techniques so they do not need to face the effects that the trauma has produced, while others simply cannot stop ruminating about their traumatic experience. There is no wrong way to react to trauma.

However, continuing to live with its negative effects can be damaging and lead to even more trauma. Within the United States, approximately 70 percent of adults have experienced one form of trauma in their lives. From that 70 percent, 20 percent develop posttraumatic stress disorder or PTSD. It is reported that over 13 million American adults are currently struggling with PTSD.

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Symptoms of Trauma

A significant symptom of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) [2] is self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. Trauma, because it is stored in the body, gives rise to somatic disturbances and upsetting body sensations such as heart-pounding, queasiness, sweating, tight muscles, and shortness of breath.

Nightmares and flashbacks can cause disturbing trauma imagery and trigger our body sensations. This can become a vicious circle in which the body and mind play off each other, causing a negative synergy in which the disturbing imagery triggers disturbing body sensations and vice versa, putting trauma survivors into a black hole where they can have trouble finding their way out of.

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Drugs and alcohol, for the trauma survivor, can provide a way to quiet the mind and the body that they can control, a sort of self-administered trauma treatment or medication. These medications can change into full-blown addictions, whether the medication is drugs, alcohol, or prescription pills. As the body builds tolerance and both body and mind become addicted, greater amounts of the drug are needed to feel better.

Some people who have experienced trauma might have a small period where they are sad, mad, or hurt, but in time, they overcome those emotions. Others might find that they suffer from several effects that continue to linger and become disruptive in their lives. Trauma can cause emotional, psychological, and physical symptoms that are challenging to cope with.

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These Symptoms Include:

  • Denial
  • Problems with concentration
  • Confusion
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Guilt and shame
  • Social isolation
  • Feeling hopeless and disconnected
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle tension
  • Easily startled
  • Racing heartbeat

Types of Trauma

There are several different types of traumas that are common among the majority of those struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, including the following:

  • Physical abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • School violence like bullying
  • Medical trauma
  • Natural disasters
  • Psychological maltreatment
  • Sexual assault like rape
  • Combat exposure
  • Sexual abuse
  • Neglect as a child
  • Unexpected loss

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PTSD and Trauma Treatment

Trauma and its effects are usually touchy subjects and ones that those most affected typically do not want to discuss, as doing so can be painful. However, continuing to live with the impacts of trauma can cause more damage than possibly imagined. These treatments are efficient, effective, and readily available for therapists. These are trauma therapies with the strongest evidence for success include:

First, exposure therapy, such as prolonged exposure therapy – is principally driven by experiential learning through exposure techniques. The individual systematically engages the two avoidances, the memory of the trauma and reminders of the memory.

Second, prolonged exposure. The goal of PE is to minimize the symptoms of PTSD by finally addressing the effects of the trauma.

Third. Cognitive therapy, including cognitive processing therapy – is driven by a more cognitive approach to the beliefs surrounding the traumatic event and the client’s responses post-event. One component of treatment might be for the individual to write down the narrative of the traumatic event to process it more completely. Furthermore, CPT helps individuals manage these self-beliefs by comparing them against whether they are factual. For example, a sexual assault survivor might feel like he or she gave the attacker the wrong message.

Lastly, Eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) are among the most effective trauma treatments today. In a session, an individual will choose the part of their trauma that is upsetting to them. They will be asked to think about that trauma while following an object, set of lights, or even the therapist’s finger, it will take 30 seconds. When done, the individual will speak to the client about their thoughts, start to talk through them, and develop applicable coping skills to help decrease the presence of PTSD.

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Stress Inoculation Training

Stress Inoculation Training or SIT is a type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. You can do it by yourself or in a group. You will not have to go into detail about what happened. The focus is more on changing how you deal with the stress from the event.

Lastly, medications. The brains of people with PTSD process threats differently, partly because the balance of chemicals called neurotransmitters is out of whack. Trying to shut that down could lead to feeling emotionally cold and removed.

We Level Up Treatment Center provides world-class care with round-the-clock medical professionals available to help you cope. We all work as an integrated team providing Trauma Treatment for successful recovery. Make this your opportunity to reclaim your life. Call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our specialists know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

Your call is private and confidential, and there is never any obligation.

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[1] – American Psychological Association (APA)

[2] Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)