Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Unprocessed trauma is often the root of physical and emotional symptoms.
Trauma refers to any experience you have that is unwanted and hurtful. These experiences are often unexpected and cause a loss of your sense of control and safety. This may include a variety of situations (divorce, discrimination, abuse, neglect, death, serious injury to yourself or loved ones, loss, and many more). What is traumatic to one person may not be traumatic to another and some people are not even aware that their body has processed an experience as trauma.
When we experience trauma, our brain (along with the rest of our body), tries to protect us. Unfortunately, this is not always a helpful long-term strategy and unprocessed trauma can lead to re-experiencing the event in unexpected and unwanted ways when seemingly minor trauma triggers occur. In addition, trauma can lead to changes in your baseline thought processes and behaviors, including how you behave in relationships.
Adulthood is often the first time someone realizes that they have experienced trauma. It may also be the first time they experience trauma or have the opportunity to get support for trauma.
When trauma is not recognized and treated appropriately, clients often find themselves overdiagnosed and overmedicated. However, when you work with a provider trained and willing to take the time to hear and understand your experiences, you can find a path forward so that your brain can heal and you can regain power and live the wonderful life you deserve. (Yes, you deserve a wonderful life)!
How do I know if it is "trauma"?
When we experience potential or actual emotional or physical harm to ourselves or our loved ones (as often occurs when something unwanted, painful, harmful, or distressing occurs too much, too fast, or too often), our brains will attempt to protect us and cope.
While this may be helpful in the moment, sometimes our brains get stuck, and when this happen the emotions, and physical sensations from the trauma can be re-experienced in both subtle and obvious ways that negatively impact mood, contribute to anxiety, and impair relationships.
Trauma is often part of living. It can be dramatic and life-threatening. And it can be subtle but frequent. What is traumatic to one person may not be traumatic to another. It is not a competition.
Common traumas that occur and can be damaging to mental health are physical, sexual, emotional abuse or neglect, unexpected or life-threatening illnesses or injuries, motor vehicle accidents, divorce, repeated rejection, racism, and pregnancy and birth trauma or complications, pregnancy loss, and infertility, and many more…
I'd rather avoid thinking or talking about it...
When trauma is not processed in the brain, it causes significant symptoms that impair physical as well as mental health. Avoidance is a natural human response…but not one that works long-term.
In fact, clients who have experienced trauma or more likely to be diagnosed with multiple mental health conditions and misdiagnosed with mental health conditions that can be better explained by their trauma.
Common symptoms that occur due to trauma are difficulties remembering key details of things that were occurring during the time of the trauma, feeling detached or less interested in meaningful interactions with others, irritability and outbursts, being easily startled or hyper-vigilant, unwanted memories and flashbacks, avoiding situations or people who trigger unwanted memories, unnecessary guilt or blame of self or others, and unmanageable fears of harm coming to self or others.
In addition, clients who have experienced traumas often report increased difficulty with sleep, pain, muscle tension, headaches, abdominal symptoms, palpitations, and fatigue.
Because this can be so common for parents who have experienced pregnancy and birth complications, pregnancy loss, infertility, and NICU experiences, it is essential that these clients have regular contact with a perinatal mental health specialist to ensure that they are appropriately screened and given guidance about how to treat and manage the effects of their trauma so their brains can heal and their relationships, functioning, and quality of life do not continue to impacted for years after the actual trauma. I am so pleased to be able to offer treatment for trauma, including postpartum PTSD and birth trauma, to clients in North Carolina and Virginia through a telehealth platform.
What can be done to treat the mental health effects of trauma?
Trauma is best treated by therapy and Brainspotting is a therapy approach that has been shown to be helpful in reducing symptoms and healing for the brain. In can also be used for other concerns, that maybe don’t feel “traumatic” but are causing emotional distress and overwhelm. In addition, many clients find having a safe space to talk through and explore their own story without judgement can be very helpful.
For many clients who experience trauma, they will have associated mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. These conditions can safely be treated with medication and therapy. This includes before, during, and after pregnancy and breastfeeding (if applicable).
What doesn’t work for trauma? AVOIDANCE-the natural human response everyone goes to. With the help of a trained professional, you can learn skills and techniques that will help you on your path to recovery! Because Joy Spring Mental Health is an integrated practice, I am able to offer a full spectrum of treatment options tailored to each individual including therapy and medication management to moms in NC and VA through a telehealth platform.