Posted on Jul 22nd, 2006

Trauma can affect our physical and emotional well-being. It results when an event causes a person to feel an overwhelming sense of vulnerability and loss of control. Some people will get through a trauma without many after-effects. However, some people will be profoundly affected. The following factors can affect the trauma response:

  • level of stress in life before trauma occurs
  • tendency to keep things inside rather than talking about them
  • history of prior traumas
  • trauma comes without much warning
  • trauma disrupts your sense of what is "supposed" to happen
  • individual personality and coping style will effect trauma response
  • lack of support system
  • degree of threat or loss
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) occurs when a person has been exposed to a traumatic event in which:

  • they have witnessed or experienced an event that involves actual or threatened serious injury or death of self or others
  • their response to this event includes intense fear, helplessness, and/or horror
  • The following symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder will show up quickly, and will last for more than one month. Following a severe trauma, a person may experience:

  • feeling numb, or “in a daze”
  • tries not to think about the event but has intrusive memories of the trauma - images, thoughts, sensory memories
  • recurrent, stressful dreams of the traumatic event
  • intrusive, vivid memories of the trauma that cause a person to feel as if they are reliving the event (flashbacks)
  • hypersensitivity to stimuli that remind them of the traumatic event
  • avoidance of people or places that might be reminders of the trauma
  • change in eating and/or sleeping habits
  • increased irritability
  • easily startled
  • hypervigilance – constantly checking their surroundings to make sure they are safe
  • trouble focusing
  • sense of loss or sadness
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was first recorded following World War I, and used to be known as shell shock, war neurosis, or combat fatigue. However, severe trauma, (and PTSD) can come from many sources including: violent crimes such as rape, incest, robbery, assault, murder, car accidents, accidents at work, unexpected death of a close friend or relative, fire, natural disasters such as tornadoes and hurricanes.

    Help is available for those with PTSD. Many people find relief through talking with a therapist or counselor. The therapeutic relationship can help normalize the symptoms and let the person know that they are not alone in their struggle. Treatment often includes learning various relaxation techniques to reduce anxiety and bring about a sense of peace. Therapists may also use special treatment modalities to help the person resolve the trauma. These treatments might include Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, also known as EMDR, or hypnotherapy.

    Recovery from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can be a slow process. Again, it depends a lot on the person’s history of trauma and their individual coping style. PTSD does not have to dominate your life. You can get help. You can get your life back.

    © 2006 Cynthia McKenna LPC, NCC - All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

    Cynthia McKenna LPC, NCC is a therapist and life-coach who helps people transform their lives. Her goal is to help people have more joy and peace in daily living. Cynthia works with individuals, couples, and groups in the Texas Hill Country. She also works with clients online and by phone. For more information or to make an appointment, visit Cynthia McKenna’s website

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