Trauma and Stressor Related Disorders
Posttraumatic stress disorder – also known as PTSD – is a mental health challenge that may occur in individuals who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a terrorist act, an act of war, a serious accident, rape, or any other personal assault.
While many people recover from trauma over time with the support of family, friends, and other resiliency factors (known as post-traumatic growth), others may experience more lasting impacts. PTSD can cause a person to live with deep emotional pain, fear, confusion, or posttraumatic stress long after the event has passed. In these circumstances, the support, guidance, and assistance of a therapist is fundamental to healing from trauma.
Trauma responses and symptoms include:
● Avoiding specific locations, sights, situations, and sounds that serve as reminders of the event
● Anxiety, depression, numbness, or guilt
● Intrusive thoughts, nightmares or flashbacks re-experiencing the events
● Anger, irritability, and hypervigilance
● Aggressive, reckless behavior, including self-harm
● Sleep disturbances
Negative Mood and Dissociation
● Loss of interest in activities that were once considered enjoyable
● Difficulty remembering details of the distressing event
● Change in habits or behavior since the trauma
● Altered sense of reality about self or surroundings (e.g., time slowing, being in a daze)
Research has proven psychotherapy to be the most effective form of treatment for trauma. Most commonly, cognitive- and behaviorally-focused therapies, such as CBT and cognitive processing therapy (CPT), are used to help those who have experienced trauma learn about their experiences and return to a place of hope with a greater sense of understanding and control of their thoughts and behaviors.