Experiencing or witnessing life-threating events such as violence, abuse, sexual abuse, and combat can be traumatic. Many individuals seek out help in treatment centers such as Rising Phoenix Wellness Services (RPWS) in Scottsdale, AZ to treat and learn how to cope with the lasting effects of trauma. It can cause a great toll on the person both mentally and physically, even if they weren’t the one directly being threatened. It is common to experience negative emotions for a while after the traumatic event, but for some they may develop PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). The chances of developing PTSD increase with the length and intensity of the event along whether the individual was harmed themselves.
Children and those who went through trauma at a younger age will often have different ways of dealing with trauma as adults. Many battling with PTSD will also practice avoidance. They will avoid triggers that lead to painful memories and flashbacks, talking about the events, or sometimes others in general. The anniversary of the event can often be increasingly difficult for trauma survivors and heighten the adverse symptoms of PTSD.
Symptoms of PTSD
To be diagnosed with PTSD, symptoms must occur for over a month. Some symptoms may interfere with the person’s daily life. Some symptoms of PTSD include but are not limited to:
- Nightmares and other sleeping issues.
- Experiencing flashbacks and frightening thoughts of the event.
- Avoidance of talking about the trauma and any triggers such as people, places, or things associated with it.
- Severe emotional and physical reactions to triggers such as change in mood and increased heart rate.
- Feelings of numbness and a detachment to others and previous hobbies.
- Easily startled, on edge, difficulty of focusing, and memory issues.
- Negative thoughts of self and of others.
- Destructive behavioral changes such as an increase in irritability and anger outburst.
Types of Therapeutic Treatment
Recognizing and receiving proper treatment for PTSD can alleviate its symptoms and help the individual heal from the trauma. Many treatment centers such as RPWS in Scottsdale, AZ offer support for trauma and PTSD. There are a handful of different therapeutic techniques psychologists may use to treat someone battling PTSD. Possible techniques may include cognitive behavioral therapy, accelerated resolution therapy, somatic experiencing, and others.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT is a common technique therapists use to help treat anxiety, depression, trauma, and other mental illnesses. CBT focuses on the client’s negative thinking and behavioral patterns that don’t serve them. The therapist and client work to identify these negative patterns and change them to be more beneficial. The client will also learn new coping skills and how to relax and stay calm in difficult situations. Often times the therapist will assign ‘homework’ for the client to do outside of the session to aid their treatment.
Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) is another form of therapeutic treatment that aids in trauma recovery. Done over a shorter number of sessions than some other therapeutic techniques, ART has some similarities to both EMDR and CBT. Often clients can gain some form of quick relief and an increase in resilience. The process makes use of rapid eye movements and imagery to alter how challenging memories are stored in the brain. As the client recalls triggering memories and imagery, the therapist works to have the client store more positive thoughts with those memories. Redirecting the imagery associated with triggers of trauma aims to help alleviate the physical and emotional symptoms of PTSD.
Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a body orientated approach to trauma healing. It works with the fight, flight, or freeze response to release trauma in the body and complete the incomplete self-protective motor programs. These motor programs are quick, involuntary actions during a traumatic event such as turning away or putting hands up in embrace. Often during a traumatic event, these motor responses do not get completed, storing that energy into the trauma victim. This can lead to small movements by the client often unnoticed similar to the previous incomplete action. They can happen even when the discussion is unrelated to the traumatic event. SE is a process that helps the client finally complete the discharge of energy stored during trauma, thus also helping the client heal.
For many, the trauma caused by life-threatening and horrific events lasts much longer than the events themselves. PTSD can be a very scary and unpleasant illness to live with. Whether it be through treatment centers such as RPWS in Scottsdale, AZ, or other means of support such as individual therapy, taking the steps to get help can make a great impact on the symptoms and your well-being.