Trauma upends life long after it’s over. It consumes your mind during the day and haunts your sleep at night. But Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and other trauma disorders are highly treatable. In fact, I’ve devoted my career to helping hundreds of people take their lives back from PTSD!
Some common symptoms after a trauma include:
Unwanted thoughts and feelings about the event
Poor self esteem
Trying to avoid reminders of the trauma
After a life-threatening event, feeling on guard, anxious, irritable, and that fight/flight/freeze response is normal. And if you were to remain in that dangerous situation, these responses might help protect you from danger. But after the danger has passed, we no longer need to hold on to the same coping skills that helped us survive that extreme situation.
Kick PTSD to the curb!
Don’t waste one more minute trying to struggle through these things on your own. Trauma therapy can help!
Trauma therapy is different than other kinds of treatment and requires a specialized approach. It simply isn’t enough to talk to a therapist about how your week has been. If you want to get better, you want good evidence-based therapy which involves targeting specific symptoms and using time tested and mountains of evidence-backed research that have been rigorously vetted by professional therapists and researches over decades.
You and your therapist will discuss different treatment options. Here are some possibilities:
Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT): This treatment helps you identify unhelpful beliefs that you’ve subconsciously developed as a way to protect yourself. Beliefs that might be preventing you from the life you’d like to live. Maybe you’ve come to believe things like:
People can’t be trusted
I always need to be on guard so that something bad won’t happen again
If I let someone get close, they’ll hurt me
The best way to manage my feelings is to push them away
Nobody can understand me
If any of these beliefs sound familiar, I can help teach you specific tools to evaluate these thoughts (and the many others) that you may have developed over the years. I can teach you how to balance your anxiety and see the world in healthier ways, that will still keep you safe.
Prolonged Exposure (PE):
Trauma memories are like watching a horror movie (and not the fun kind). The memories are so upsetting that we never want to think about what happened or see those mental images again! Consequently, we work hard to push away any thought or feeling or image that might remind us of the trauma. And not only that, but we start to avoid places that make us feel anxious (places that used to be no problem for us in the past). It’s more difficult to be in crowded places, around loud noises, to have people standing behind us, or to go someplace new. It’s like our “danger radar” is dialed up to 11 and the only way that we have learned to manage that stress is to try to avoid it, push it down, or try to numb it out. Exhausting, right?!
But PE teaches us a few important things.
1) The more we process the trauma memory, the more control you take back from PTSD.
2) Not all anxiety = danger
3) Not everything that makes us feel anxious should be avoided
And if we’re being honest…if avoiding reminders of the trauma was effective at helping you recover, you wouldn’t need therapy. Think of avoidance as a kind of “fuel” that is inadvertently keeping that mental illness active. Our goal is to take away that fuel to help you take control of your life again. Instead of avoiding the anxiety, we look at it, process it, and take back your power.
Some people express apprehension at beginning trauma treatment. They’re afraid that things will get worse because the only way that they’ve learned to manage their emotions is by a complex dance of trying to push them away and to avoid trauma triggers. But consider this…if you were satisfied with your life, you likely wouldn’t be looking for therapy. You’d be happy! But my guess is that things aren’t going well. How long have you been carrying this stress? What would it be worth to you to finally have mastery over your symptoms? To be able to connect with your family and friends? To get out and enjoy life?
Keystone Mental Health works with you to identify specific expert solutions to the problems that you’re facing. You don’t have to struggle. Therapy can help. Call today.