PTSD

Trauma and PTSD


 

What is trauma?

You do not have to be diagnosed with PTSD to be experiencing trauma. Trauma is a natural reaction to scary or distressing situations. It is something that can be experienced by anyone and is caused by many different events.  

 

What sorts of things can cause trauma?

When we think of PTSD we often think of it as something that veterans get from being in wars. However, it is something that anyone can get from all sorts of situations including abuse, being attacked, car crashes, sexual violence, domestic violence (including emotional abuse), child birth, being bullied, serious injuries or illnesses, surgery, bereavement, significant loss, and also from witnessing things that you find distressing.

 

What are the symptoms of trauma?

Everyone experiences trauma differently. Some of the common symptoms are flashbacks (when we feel like we are reliving what happened), nightmares, avoiding things that remind you of the event, mood swings, feeling anxious, panicked, scared, jumpy, sad, numb, angry guilty or ashamed, behavioural changes, changes to eating patterns and sleep patterns, feeling like you are not in your body, feeling disconnected, confused or “phasing out”, having unexplained physical symptoms such as pains, illness or fatigue, increased use of alcohol or drugs, social withdrawal, lack of interest in usual hobbies/activities.

 

Symptoms of trauma in children.

Children can have any of the same symptoms as adults, however the most common ones are nightmares, trouble sleeping, physical pains (like headaches), loss of interest in things they used to enjoy, bedwetting, anxiety about being separated from caregivers, re-enacting the traumatic event through play or creative ways (like drawing it).

 

How is trauma treated?

I can work with you in several different ways and we can discuss which way is best for you before we begin. A lot of people find it very helpful to talk about the traumatic event(s) in a safe space where they know they won’t be judged and can just go at their own pace.

One effective way of treating trauma is to just talk about it over and over again until you have processed what happened. It is common for people to develop unhelpful beliefs and meanings after a traumatic event, or you may want to try to find meaning in what has happened to you. Talking things through can help with this.

I often use trauma-focused CBT interventions to help change unhelpful belief systems and develop new ways of thinking that are more positive. You won’t be forced to talk about anything you don’t want to talk about.

Sometimes it can be helpful to draw pictures and write about what happened and how you feel. We might do this in the session or I might suggest you do it at home if you feel able to. I may ask you to do some visualisation exercises such as imagining you are in a very safe place or imagining the event in different ways.

I am also trained in the Rewind Technique which is an effective way of treating flashbacks and intrusive memories. The Rewind Technique means that you do not actually have to tell me what happened, however you do have to think about it. If this is something that you would like to try, then let me know when you book your first session and please be aware that it requires a minimum of 2 sessions and a free follow up email assessment.

I will also teach you techniques for looking after your emotional and mental health so that you are able to cope better. I will explain some of the things that are happening to you and why our brains and bodies react in these ways when we have experienced trauma. I can also teach you mindfulness as a technique for managing difficult emotions and staying calm.

 

Birth trauma

 I have a particular interest in birth trauma (mums, dads and anyone who has been affected) and babes in arms are welcome. Generally, it is better if you don’t bring your baby with you because we can’t do therapy if you are needing to attend to him/her. You may also find it uncomfortable talking about certain things or becoming distressed around your child. However, I understand that it’s not always possible to find childcare and being separated from your child can cause unnecessary anxiety.

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