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Trauma and PTSD

Experiencing a single traumatic event or repeated trauma can result in serious mental health challenges. Seeking help from trauma specialists can significantly improve your mental health and overall quality of life.

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Overview

Trauma emerges when someone faces an overwhelming experience without sufficient support or coping strategies. It might result from a single terrifying event like an assault, car accident, or natural disaster, or from continual “minor” mistreatment, such as consistent verbal abuse during childhood by caregivers.

Trauma affects individuals uniquely, and what may seem minor to one person could deeply impact another for an extended period. Rather than assessing the severity of an event, it’s more helpful to recognize how it shapes your personal journey and impacts your current life.

Numerous difficulties often associated with trauma, though they may stem from various sources, encompass mental health concerns such as depression and anxiety, persistent overthinking and excessive concern, challenges in decision-making, sleep disturbances, decreased energy levels, reduced motivation, increased irritability, trouble forming healthy relationships or maintaining employment, and an overarching sense of grappling without clear insight or resolution.

Trauma and PTSD

Experiencing a traumatic incident, such as enduring sexual assault, can profoundly impact your general welfare and potentially result in PTSD, but it’s crucial to differentiate between the event and the disorder it triggers. PTSD denotes a persistent condition characterized by significant distress, impairment, recurring flashbacks, and reliving traumatic experiences.
A white woman sits with her hands on her head looking frustrated.

Symptoms

Struggling to carry out daily tasks or activities

Encountering trauma can interrupt your capacity to absorb and understand information, as your instincts prioritize survival when sensing danger. While this survival response is crucial for immediate safety, it can complicate the return to regular functioning after the threat subsides. Recovering from the neurological effects of trauma may pose challenges, but with assistance, it’s possible to restore functionality in everyday activities.

Mental health challenges

Trauma frequently coincides with additional mental health struggles, including depression, anxiety, phobias, and ADHD. These impacts can interfere with executive functioning abilities, making it challenging to prioritize tasks, manage time efficiently, uphold a healthy routine, and retain employment.

Trauma encourages unhealthy behaviors

In-depth psychoanalytic research confirms the link between exposure to trauma and the development of dysfunctional and uncontrollable behaviors.

“Dysfunctional avoidance” refers to the attempt to avoid facing unpleasant and distressing experiences associated with different types of interpersonal trauma. This frequently leads to an increased tendency to resort to substance abuse and participate in problematic or self-destructive behaviors, such as suicidal ideation or risky sexual conduct, while reducing the capacity to manage harmful actions.

If you’re struggling with unhealthy patterns or urges related to eating, sexual activity, substance use, or technology, unresolved trauma might play a significant role. The positive news is that confronting your trauma frequently results in addressing the underlying causes of these behaviors, thereby facilitating the process of making beneficial changes.

Physical health ramifications of trauma

In addition to challenges in lifestyle and behavior, inadequate physical health often originates from trauma. Exposure to interpersonal trauma is strongly associated with a decline in physical well-being.

Children who undergo trauma are at an increased risk of developing a range of health issues, including cancer, diabetes, heart conditions, obesity, stroke, and substance use disorders, alongside mental health struggles.

Causes and risk factors

Several factors can influence the probability of encountering PTSD or other difficult responses to trauma:

  • Genetic and environmental factors
  • Going through numerous traumatic events repeatedly
  • Feeling powerless during traumatic circumstances

Treatment for trauma

Thankfully, there are numerous successful treatments for trauma available for both adults and children. Trauma-informed therapy can serve as a vital component in the journey toward healing.

Your therapist may suggest:

  • Trauma-informed CBT for teenagers, adolescents, and children
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps individuals acquire new approaches to thinking, reacting, and coping with situations to reduce anxiety and fear. CBT has undergone extensive research.
  • Exposure therapy, a method within Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), is frequently employed in treating anxiety disorders. Its goal is to tackle the underlying worries of an anxiety condition by assisting individuals in facing the activities they’ve been avoiding. Occasionally, relaxation techniques are incorporated into exposure therapy sessions.
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) employs mindfulness, goal-setting, and diverse strategies to alleviate discomfort and anxiety.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
  • Mindfulness or other approaches.

Reach out today

In navigating the complexities of trauma and its repercussions, seeking professional guidance is invaluable. Aimee Kauffman, LPC, is one such expert dedicated to supporting individuals on their journey to healing. Through her compassionate approach and extensive expertise, Aimee provides a safe space for you to explore your experiences and embark on a path toward resilience and growth. Remember, healing from trauma is a journey, but it is a journey worth taking. If you or someone you know is struggling with trauma, reach out to Aimee for support. Together, we can break the cycle of trauma and cultivate a future filled with hope and healing.

Related information

Briere, J., Hodges, M., & Godbout, N. (2010). Traumatic stress, affect dysregulation, and dysfunctional avoidance: a structural equation model. Journal of traumatic stress, 23 6, 767-74

Dimopoulou, I., Anthi, A., Mastora, Z., Theodorakopoulou, M., Konstandinidis, A., Evangelou, E., Mandragos, K.E., & Roussos, C. (2004). Health-Related Quality of Life and Disability in Survivors of Multiple Trauma One Year After Intensive Care Unit Discharge. American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, 83, 171-176.

López-Martínez, A., Serrano-Ibáñez, E.R., Ruíz-Párraga, G.T., Gómez-Pérez, L., Ramírez‐Maestre, C., & Esteve, R. (2018). Physical Health Consequences of Interpersonal Trauma: A Systematic Review of the Role of Psychological Variables. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 19, 305 – 322.

Sanderud, K., Murphy, S., & Elklit, A. (2016). Child maltreatment and ADHD symptoms in a sample of young adults. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 7.

Schnurr, P.P., & Green, B.L. (2004). Understanding relationships among trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, and health outcomes. Advances in mind-body medicine, 20 1, 18-29