Understanding PTSD

Understanding PTSD

Understanding PTSD

Although post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the issue that most often comes to mind when we think of trauma, several other responses include depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and problems in relationships. Most of these other problems are embedded within the experience of PTSD and make more sense as we learn about the condition.

Many different kinds of events can be traumatic. Trauma responses can follow any significant change or disturbance in an individual's life. Some instances that come to mind include a severe and potentially life-threatening mishap, attack, natural disaster, or war. Other experiences can also be traumatic, including surviving or seeing a crime; physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual abuse; bullying; or even a significant relocation.

In the time directly following a trauma, many people experience PTSD. Sometimes, PTSD symptoms decrease over time, and the individual naturally recovers. It is helpful to think of PTSD as an illness where something gets in the way of the natural recovery process. In each trauma experience, the elements that can impact a person's responses vary. As a result, there are likely as many unique examples of things that can prevent a smooth recovery as there are people with PTSD. However, there are some commonalities among PTSD experiences. Several types of experiences tend to follow a traumatic experience. Our individual counselor in Orlando offers the following types of trauma response that often occur with PTSD.

The first trauma response involves reexperiencing the trauma in some way. This often includes nightmares about the trauma or other frightening dreams, flashbacks, and invasive memories that unexpectedly pop into your mind. People might have intrusive memories when something in their lives reminds them of the trauma (like anniversaries of the trauma) or even without reminders. Typical times to experience these memories are before going to sleep, when unwinding, or when bored. Therapy relieves trauma response and attempts to jump-start an interrupted recovery process.

Another trauma response involves arousal, which refers to a persistent alarm signal. As may be expected, when reminded of the trauma, an individual with PTSD will likely encounter powerful emotions. Accompanying these emotions are physical responses similar to those we experience facing a lion or tiger in the wild. Signs of this trauma response include difficulties falling or remaining asleep, irritability or bursts of rage, problems concentrating, startle responses like jumping at noises, constantly feeling on guard, or glancing over your shoulder even in the lack of an outer justification.

The next trauma response is avoiding reminders of the trauma. Although it is essential to indicate that this avoidance is usually not intentional, a natural response to invasive memories and powerful emotional reactions is the impulse to push these thoughts and emotions away. We might dodge places or people that remind us of the trauma. Some people avoid watching specific television programs or turn off their TV completely. Some individuals avoid reading the newspaper or monitoring the news. We might avoid thinking about the trauma and allowing ourselves to experience our feelings about it. There might be specific views, sounds, or scents we avoid or escape from because they remind us of the trauma.

We hope this helps you better understand trauma and how trauma response impacts sufferers. Contact us today to speak with an individual counselor in Orlando. We are here to help!

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Heather Oller

Heather Oller is the owner and founder of Orlando Thrive Therapy, Coaching, and Counseling. She is a licensed counselor and a family mediator who has over 23 years of dedicated work as a professional in the mental health field. Through her company's mission, she continues to pave the way for future therapists, and their clients, who want a higher quality of life....and who want to thrive, rather than just survive. You can contact Orlando Thrive Therapy at (407) 592-8997 for more information.