Treatment for Trauma

Many people experience impactful moments during the course of their lifetimes that leave a lasting impression on their memories. However, there are individuals who experience circumstances or situations that can change them forever, leaving them with an emotional scar that can affect the manner in which life is perceived and lived. Following such events, the manner in which these individuals cope with their distress can often times include unhealthy means of dealing with turmoil that can render a whole host of adverse outcomes.

When an individual has endured an experience that leaves him or her feeling fearful, anxious, or unable to effectively manage the emotions that have resulted from what occurred, it is likely that that person suffered a trauma. Examples of trauma that could be experienced by a person include, but are not limited to:

  • Domestic violence (e.g. emotional, verbal, physical or sexual abuse)
  • Community violence (e.g. shooting, mugging, burglary, physical assault, rape, bullying)
  • Extreme fear stimulated by threats of injury and/or assault to self or a loved one
  • Serious injury or illness of self or a loved one
  • Natural disasters such as hurricane, flood, fire or earthquake
  • Witnessing or being involved in a motor vehicle accident
  • Sudden unexpected death of someone close to you
  • Divorce
  • War
  • Terrorism

With help from qualified professionals, those who endure such trauma are able to gain the skills needed to cope with their emotional pain and resume their lives with the ability to function in a healthy manner. However, when the subsequent stress of a trauma is not dealt with appropriately, unhealthy methods for masking this turmoil may begin to occur and adversely affect every area of a person’s life.

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Statistics

Research has concluded that approximately 70% of American adults have experienced a form of trauma at some point in their lives. Of that percentage, as much as 5% of those individuals meet diagnostic criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), of which is known to result after enduring a trauma. Among the types of trauma, those who have been raped, a victim of physical violence, survived a motor vehicle accident, or experienced an unexpected death of a loved one are most at risk for experiencing symptoms synonymous with PTSD.

Signs and Symptoms of Trauma

Depending on the type of trauma that a person has experienced, the telltale signs that someone is struggling with such an experience and resulting emotions may or may not be apparent to close loved ones. If any of the following symptoms are present, it could infer that an individual has experienced trauma and requires treatment in order to process it in a healthy way:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Avoiding certain people, places, or situations reminiscent of the trauma
  • Declined participation in things that were once enjoyed
  • Restlessness
  • Social withdrawal or isolation
  • Engaging in ritualistic behaviors as a means of decreasing anxious feelings
  • Acting out
  • Instigative behaviors
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Using drugs and/or alcohol more often as a means of “relaxing” or “mentally escaping”

Physical symptoms (which often occur when the individual is thinking or talking about or reminded of the trauma):

  • Lethargy
  • Profuse sweating
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Tense muscles
  • Increased heart rate
  • Highly sensitive startle response
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Aches and pains, of which could be psychosomatic

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Inability to concentrate
  • Confusion
  • Derealization
  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Disturbing or intrusive memories
  • Depersonalization
  • Inability to recall details pertaining to the trauma

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Feeling hopeless
  • Depressed feelings
  • Fearful feelings
  • Drastic shifts in mood
  • Low self-worth, self-esteem, and/or self-confidence
  • Loss of interest in things that were once enjoyed
  • Heightened levels of anxiety
  • Intense anger or hostility
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Feelings of shame
  • Self-blame
If you feel that you are in crisis, or are having thoughts about hurting yourself or others, please call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room immediately.

Effects of Trauma

It is very important to address any residual turmoil that occurs after a trauma. Failing to do so, by not seeking treatment (for example), can result in the following detrimental effects that can add to the already existing distress that is being experienced:

  • Demise of meaningful relationships with peers
  • Divorce
  • Strained relationships with one’s children
  • Declining physical health
  • Inability to acquire employment
  • Interaction with law enforcement as a result of engaging in risky behaviors
  • Job loss
  • Financial difficulties
  • Onset of mental health condition symptoms
  • Development of a substance abuse problem, addiction, or chemical dependency concern
  • Self-harm
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Suicide attempts
  • Death via accidental overdose (as a result of substance abuse) or attempts at suicide

Co-Occurring Disorders

The longer a person struggles with the emotional upheaval that occurs after experiencing a trauma, the greater the risk for suffering from mental health condition symptoms at the same time becomes. The following disorders are those that are often diagnosed in individuals who are grappling with unresolved trauma:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Acute stress disorder
  • Depressive disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Substance use disorders

Why Seek Treatment for Trauma

Trauma that has not been appropriately processed can render an individual susceptible to experiencing several harmful effects as a result. In many cases, the trauma can dictate how a person lives and can eventually impact the lives of close loved ones as well. In the event a person experiences additional undue stress or another type of trauma, the cost to his or her emotional well-being can be gargantuan. Fortunately, there are treatment options in existence that can help save the lives of those who have endured a trauma; treatment options that can lay the foundation for a happy, healthy future.

Among the most effective types of trauma treatment available, residential care can afford these individuals with the greatest opportunity to truly work through their pain and gain the skills needed to resume life without the emotional constraints caused by experiencing a trauma or traumas. Within residential treatment, qualified, experienced, and compassionate mental health professionals are on hand to help survivors of trauma come to understand how such an experience or experiences have affected and are impacting their lives. These same professionals can assist these individuals in learning how to identify, manage/regulate, and healthily process the feelings and emotions that have otherwise hindered functioning outside of treatment. Beneficial and necessary skills for coping with stress and unpleasant emotions can be gained via individual and group therapy sessions, as these interventions are frequently offered during the course of treatment.

Additionally, any existing mental health condition symptoms can be identified and treated under the watchful eyes of a psychiatrist and other trained professionals. Lastly, if a person working to process and overcome a trauma engages in residential treatment and is battling an addiction to substances at the same time, any substance abuse problems, addiction, or chemical dependency concerns can be cared for as well. It is within residential treatment that a person can truly focus on healing without distraction from the outside world so that true recovery can be achieved.

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