The trauma response is a normal psychological reaction to very abnormal events. In fact, Most of us will experience some type of traumatic event in our lifetime. Thankfully, most people find that symptoms go away on their own within a few months. However, if your symptoms persist for months or years, a professional should evaluate you for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The symptoms of PTSD fall into a four main clusters: re-experiencing, avoidance, changes in mood or thinking, and increased arousal. Re-experiencing includes flashbacks, nightmares, and disturbing memories of the trauma. Avoidance behaviors include not thinking about, not talking about, or not going places that remind you of the traumatic experience. Avoiding nightmares by not going to sleep is common, so people with PTSD often experience poor sleep. Also, changes in mood or thinking occur. These changes can include increased irritability, anxiety, or depression since the traumatic event. Lastly, people living with PTSD often report feeling on edge, constantly on guard, or being easily startled.
Importantly, several therapies have been shown to effectively treat PTSD. Prolonged Exposure (PE) therapy has extensive research backing and is my preferred method of treating PTSD. If you live with post-trauma symptoms and would like help, call me today so we can discuss your options.