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The Truth about Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

By: Susan Clifton, MSW, LCSW

Trauma is defined in many ways. Trauma is often seen as only developing in combat, but this is not the only way a person can experience trauma. According to the Veteran’s Administration (VA), traumatic experiences can be a result of witnessing or being involved in any life-threatening event, such as a car accident, natural disaster or sexual assault. Trauma can even occur after seeing a traumatic event happen to another person.

The Sidran Institute estimates that 70 percent of adults in the United States have experienced a traumatic event at least once in their lives, and up to 20 percent of these people go on to develop post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

People often explain extreme levels of sadness, desire to isolate, sleeplessness and disassociation or “spacing out” as suddenly “coming out of nowhere.” For others, further discussion reveals past incidents as traumatic events. As the statics show, these symptoms do not always equivalate to a diagnosis of PTSD, but trauma can leave behind scars that affect us more than we realize.

Why now?

People will often say “that has never bothered me before. Why does it bother me now?” The VA states that “personal factors, like earlier traumatic exposure, age, and gender, can affect whether or not a person will develop PTSD. What happens after the traumatic event is also important. Stress can make PTSD more likely, while social support can make it less likely.” In other words, the impact that PTSD has is unique to each person, and it can change over a lifetime. The development of PTSD depends on multiple factors and how strong or tough someone is maybe irrelevant.

What is the takeaway from this?

  • After a traumatic experience, feelings such as anger, depression, irritability, or unexplained feelings, and difficulty sleeping are all normal. Having any of these symptoms or others, are not a sign of weakness, but a sign that you are human, and have experienced something traumatic. If symptoms persist and get in the way of you living your life, then you should seek professional help.
  • Trauma can creep up on us, even years later. On occasion, PTSD can develop after the stress has subsided and an individual is starting to relax. This development is your body’s way of telling you it is time to discuss what has happened to you.
  • There is help there for all forms of trauma. Not everyone experiences trauma the same way, and not everyone responds to treatment the same way. Find the treatment that works best for you by using the advice of a supportive health care professional.
  • Sometimes trauma can present itself in strange and unusual ways. Because PTSD is different for everyone, some people will have symptoms that they will not even equate with experiencing trauma, such as self-harm, impulsive or dangerous behaviors, anger/hostility towards others and even suicidal thoughts. While these are normal symptoms, they are also very serious and you need help. If you feel anxious about speaking to someone in person, then you can call someone. Help lines have someone available to listen and coach you through the next steps. Asking for help is the bravest thing a person with PTSD can do.

If you feel like you might be experiencing symptoms of PTSD or any high-risk mental health concern, help is available.

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8255). Trained counselors are available 24/7 and connect you with a crisis center in the Lifeline network closest to your location. Counselors listen empathetically and without judgment, and will work to ensure that you feel safe and help to find mental health services in your area. Your call is confidential and free.
  • Crisis Text Line: Text NAMI to 741-741. Connect with a trained crisis counselor to receive free, 24/7 crisis support via text message.
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE (7233). Trained expert advocates are available 24/7 to provide confidential support to anyone experiencing domestic violence or seeking resources and information. Help is available in Spanish and other languages.
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-HOPE (4673)

At Pasadena Villa, we can help you in treating your trauma symptoms. You do not have to face this challenge alone. If you or a loved one have questions regarding a mental illness, seek guidance from a mental health provider that is right for you.  Call us at 877-845-5235 or complete our contact form to help with the next steps of treatment. Pasadena Villa Network of Psychiatric Services currently offers treatment at two residential locations in both Orlando, Florida and Knoxville, Tennessee, and outpatient services in Raleigh, North Carolina.

 

If you think that you or a loved one may be struggling with a mental health disorder, Pasadena Villa can help. We are here to answer questions and connect to care. Pasadena Villa currently offers treatment at two residential locations in both Orlando, Florida and Knoxville, Tennessee, and outpatient services in Cary, North Carolina and Charlotte, North Carolina. To learn more about our program, call us at
1.877.845.5235
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