Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Do you have flashbacks or nightmares from abusive or near death experiences that you witnessed or were exposed to?
- Are you fearful that something terrible is going to happen to you?
- Do you feel like you are having an out of body experience (e.g. like you are looking down on your life and watching things happen around you without actively participating)?
- Do you try to avoid people, events, things, or memories which may trigger your traumatic experience?
- Do you have hypersensitive reactions to the smallest stimulation (e.g. jump or shudder when someone is behind you, get angry or irritable very quickly if someone makes a loud noise or yells, or threaten someone with violence because you perceive them as making an aggressive posture?
You may be suffering from PTSD. While PTSD is often portrayed in mainstream media as symptoms that veterans or victims of violent crime suffer from, there are various forms of PTSD. For example, if you grew up in a home environment surrounded by physical abuse or violent criminal activity - this could have potentially had the same effect on your brain as a veteran going to war. Trauma, if not dealt with properly can be debilitating and can lead to a lifelong fear that something is going to happen. In order to effectively work with trauma, it must first be identified.
There are people that have gone through traumatic experiences that don't even consider their experiences traumatic, but rather "just the way things were." I often find it helpful to sit down with clients and discussed their symptoms, and the impact that their symptoms had over time. Typically, it is not uncommon for people who suffer from PTSD to be haunted by old ghosts in their memories. This causes a person to become fearful and distressed, and try to work harder at avoiding or suppressing these memories.
However, you will often find that even if you try to forget the distressing memories or nightmares, your body will continue to keep the score. This means that you will feel physiological symptoms that often replicate anxiety (e.g. sweats, heart pounding, shallow breathing). In addition, you may experience other emotions (e.g. anger, irritability, fear, sadness, and avoidance). There are ways to cope with PTSD. While you may never forget the trauma that you experienced, you can learn to cope with it. The steps that I take to help my clients address their symptoms of PTSD are:
- Acknowledge the problem
- Identify the symptoms
- Identify the triggers
- Process the events leading up to and the traumatic event
- Address how your issues may effect the ones you love and those who surround you
- Address how to cope with and desensitize yourself to the symptoms experienced
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