Thursday, December 3, 2020

How To Move On: Coping After Trauma

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Post-traumatic stress disorder is a form of anxiety caused by stressful, and often life-threatening situations. It can be a debilitating condition that prevents the sufferer from leading a full life. Often PTSD causes a person to relive their incident repeatedly, and have potentially vivid nightmares, insomnia, and extreme fears and anxiety.

Post-traumatic stress can affect anyone. A severe incident can bring about feelings that we are not equipped to deal with. This might be an assault, car accident, or even problems during childbirth. The symptoms of PTSD might not also become apparent for months or even years after the event had taken place. 

Those in very stressful jobs where there is a great deal of physical risk, such as military personnel, or emergency service workers may be exposed to the kind of trauma that can cause post-traumatic stress. Those working in war zones are particularly susceptible and, in this case, suffers should visit for advice and support. 

Witnessing, or learning about severe trauma in someone that you are close to can also bring about PTSD too. 


Symptoms vary, and may not become apparent for some time after the event. They may be things such as a disinterest in daily life and activities that are happening around you, a feeling of numbness and disconnection from other people, a lack of positive feelings about the future, and an avoidance of people, places or things associated with the trauma. More severe symptoms might include panic attacks and vivid flashbacks of the event. 

PTSD survivors may say that they don't want to talk about the event. A reluctance to even talk about anything to do with an incident may be a sign that they have PTSD. Having a feeling that they cannot control their own thoughts also demonstrates a potential risk of post-traumatic stress.

Taking Action

If you or a loved one is suffering from PTSD after surviving a traumatic experience, then action needs to be taken. In the first instance, speaking with your doctor is advised. They will probably ask a few questions in order to diagnose and understand the level and cause of stress disorder. At this point, being completely honest about how you feel will make sure that an accurate diagnosis can be made. There is no shame in admitting that you are struggling. Suffering with PTSD does not imply failure on your part, and it certainly does not make you a weak person. So if there are symptoms that you are embarrassed to talk about, take your time and allow yourself the opportunity to open up about them and get the help you need. 


Treatment might include antidepressants. These will help with rebalancing the levels of neurotransmitters in your brain. Increasing neurotransmitters that may be depleted helps stimulate synapses making up for the reduced levels. This helps restore our brain activity to a 'normal level'. Over time, antidepressants serve to repair broken connections in the brain through neuroplasticity. When we're under a great deal of stress, our brains produce adrenaline in an attempt to run from or fight off any dangers. Reliving trauma can engage in adrenaline production, meaning that a PTSD survivor suffers from an overproduction of adrenaline. This surplus of hormones serves to raise heartbeats, fuel anxiety and keep the sufferer on edge for a prolonged time. Lowering these chemicals is essential as part of the treatment process. 


Alongside medication, many sufferers may require trauma counselling. This could be talking therapy surrounding coming to terms with the incident. Unpicking the complex emotions surrounding trauma can take a very long time. A qualified therapist will know the types of questions to ask to help you come to an understanding of your condition. They may provide you with reading or exercises to do outside of sessions. It is vital to engage with any therapeutic activities set out, as they are designed to aid your recovery. Often, though progress can be slow and you may not notice the changes. There may be a feeling that you are wasting time, and will feel like stopping. Stick with it, it is a very gradual process, but it is beneficial in the long run.

You may be offered cognitive behavioral therapy. This type of counselling will look at the ways you think and do things and will look at changing your mindset to help you deal with situations better. It is particularly useful for breaking out of patterns of thought and behavior that may be destructive.


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