Trauma & PTSD
After going through a traumatic experience, it is common to experience a range of overwhelming emotions, including anxiety, anger and hopelessness. This is particularly expected for a period of time immediately after the traumatic event. However, you may feel that you can’t afford to take time away from your responsibilities to recover, or that you need to get back on your feet as soon as possible. It is not uncommon to feel frustrated that you have not been able to recover on your own. No matter when the event occurred, if it is affecting your ability to enjoy life then it is not worth putting off any longer.
Whilst trauma is often thought of as the aftermath of a single, horrific event, trauma can also occur from being exposed to a number of smaller events over a longer period of time. A common example includes ongoing experiences of physical, sexual or verbal abuse throughout a certain period of your life. Both of these forms of trauma can lead to similar difficulties, however the experience will always be unique to each person. Some people may experience flashbacks of the memory, which may appear to be random, or in response to a specific trigger. You may have noticed that you are avoiding certain situations or are unable to do the things that you used to do because of these flashbacks. You may also feel physical sensations such as constant alertness, general aches and pains, or fatigue.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can occur soon after a trauma, or have a delayed onset more than six months after the trauma. It develops as a result of an extreme and often unexpected event or series of events. These may include physical or sexual assault, accidents, natural or man-made disasters, and war and/or military combat.
There are three main types of PTSD:
- Re-living the trauma through distressing memories, nightmares or “flashbacks”, or experiencing psychological distress when exposed to certain cues
- Feeling numb or emotionally cut off from others, and avoiding reminders of the traumatic event
- Persistent signs of heightened anxiety and physical tension, increased aggression and irritability, and lack of interest in social activities
Alternatively, you may be experiencing more subtle effects of trauma, which has caused you to put off seeking help until now. This could include having a thought or memory randomly entering your mind and making it difficult to concentrate. Some people also experience a general feeling of dissatisfaction with themselves – such as wanting to be more confident, happy or trusting as a person.
No matter what the effects are, if there is a chance that your past is still having impacting on your current wellbeing then it is worth seeking help to finally move on. There are a number of VCPS practitioners who are specialised in working with trauma and PTSD. They can:
- Help you work through the emotions and the memories associated with the trauma
- Provide evidence-based support on ways to cope with the effects of trauma as they arise, including any problematic emotions, thoughts or behaviours that have resulted
- Provide systematic desensitisation – a technique that helps to reduce symptoms by encouraging you to remember the traumatic event and express your feelings about it
- Provide therapy to assist with associated psychological and behavioural problems – including alcohol or other substance abuse, violence, depression, and medical conditions
- Introduce support groups – connect individuals with people who have had similar experiences and encourage them to share their feelings
- Help you to support someone else who may have been affected by a traumatic event (e.g. children or other family members)