Most people will experience at least one traumatic experience in their lifetime. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) occurs due to a highly stressful or emotional situation that someone has gone through. Most people recognize PTSD as occurring if a person previously experienced war. However, many more situations or events can be considered traumatic. While this list is not exhaustive, here are common occurrences that can cause a trauma response:
- Witnessing or being the victim of a crime
- Domestic, sexual, or emotional abuse
- Childhood abuse/neglect
- Car accidents
- Living through a natural disaster
- Death of a loved one
To better understand what PTSD is, let’s next take a look at the signs and symptoms associated with it.
Symptoms of PTSD are the same, no matter what the traumatic experience was. Keep in mind, however, that not everyone will experience all of the associated symptoms with PTSD. It impacts each individual differently, and the severity of these symptoms can also vary.
Flashbacks & Nightmares
Something that a lot of people with PTSD experience are flashbacks & nightmares regarding the event. They are so real that it can make the person remembering them feel like they are experiencing it all over again. Nightmares can be so intense that they cause someone to experience sleep issues such as insomnia, which worsens the other symptoms they experience and impacts their daily functioning skills.
The word triggers is something that is commonly being used thanks to social media. However, this trend of using this word has undermined the experience of those who do experience triggers because of their traumatic experience.
After a traumatic experience, someone can experience triggers in any number of ways. Most commonly, these could be from:
Any sensations or sights experienced during the traumatic experience are associated directly with the trauma. They can then cause someone to have a full-blown panic attack if they go through something similar. What’s worse is that someone might not immediately recognize any of these things as a trigger from the trauma.
Physical Symptoms of PTSD
- Racing heart
- Muscle tension
- Change in eating habits
- Loss of interest in activities
- Difficulties with focusing
- Memory issues
Can You Heal From Trauma?
You absolutely can. It doesn’t matter if you experienced the trauma last month, year, or decades ago. No matter how long ago it occurred, healing is possible.
One myth about trauma is that it needs to be completely life-altering to be considered traumatic. That isn’t the case at all. While there might be common types of trauma, the truth is, if it impacted you in a big way, that is all that counts. What one person considers traumatic might not have been that at all for a different individual.
Steps To Begin Healing From Trauma
Recognize Your Symptoms & Signs
This is an important beginning step for many people. What are the symptoms you are experiencing? If you can’t immediately associate them with the traumatic event, try not to focus on that part. If you are experiencing any negative signs or symptoms, write them down in a journal. Write down the obvious ones, too. For instance, if you were in a car accident, you might feel panicky anytime you get to an intersection. Record the not-so-obvious ones. For example, “I can’t stand the smell of rubber now.”
Trauma makes you feel stuck in the past; you can’t get past that moment. Ground yourself back into the present through mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing or yoga, which can help your mind and body calm down and regulate more easily.
There is no shame in admitting that you went through something that affected you tremendously. If you are ready to heal from the past, don’t hesitate to reach out to us to learn more about trauma therapy.