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After the Trauma: Life with PTSD

ptsd counseling

After the Trauma: Life with PTSD

 

Experiencing an extremely stressful or disturbing event can leave you traumatized, feeling helpless and emotionally out of sorts. Often, this traumatic event may entail a threat to life or security, but it can also be any situation, even a harmless one, which may render you feeling overwhelmed and isolated.

It is expected to feel intense emotions, such as helplessness, fear, guilt, shame or anger when an extraordinary stressful event shatters your sense of security. The upsetting emotions or memories can leave you feeling numb, withdrawn, and unable to trust other people. It is not the objective facts that dictate, but your subjective emotional experience determines whether an event is traumatic or not. The more frightened and helpless you feel after the experience, the more you are traumatized. It can take a few days to a few weeks for the pain to gradually fade as you process the unsettling event, feel safe again and move on with your life. If the difficult feelings last for more than a month, you may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

 

Living with PTSD

In the past, post-traumatic stress disorder was understood as the after effects of war on some military veterans. Today, PTSD is known as an emotional health condition with long-lasting consequence that can affect anyone, at any age. Besides military combat, traumatic events or frightening experiences, such as physical or sexual assault, natural calamities, terrorist attacks, diagnosis of an illness, or other events that pose as a threat of death or security to oneself or a loved one can lead to the development of unusually strong feelings. These feelings can prevent a person from functioning well and living a purposeful life.

PTSD statistics reveal that out of the 70 percent of American adults who have experienced at least one traumatic event, up to 20 percent develops PTSD. It means approximately 44.7 million Americans had or are suffering from PTSD. The lifetime risk for developing the disorder in American adults is 3.5 percent. Increased rates are most notable in people with higher risk of exposure to traumatic events or situations, such as police officers, firefighters and nurses, with women more likely to be affected than men.

With PTSD, your life becomes hostage to the lasting sense of terror, horror and endangerment of a traumatic event you have experienced or personally witnessed in the past. The feeling of intense fear can stop you from living your life. Your existence is designed to steer clear of another possible episode. The dramatic change in personality can be difficult for family, friends or the community to accept. Your sudden bursts of anger and irritability, or complete detachment can be hurtful to your loved ones and may harm your relationships with other people.

The bottom line is that as a person with PTSD you may have certain reactions that may affect the people around you. They will react to your behavior, which in turn comes back to affect you. While struggling with angry feelings, you may resort to alcohol or substance abuse, or verbal and physical violence. In truth, all these can be an attempt to avoid another flashback.

 

Risk Factors to the Development of PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder is believed to be caused by a variety of risk factors and predispositions, which, when combined, can cause the development of PTSD after experiencing a traumatic event. The most common factors include:

  • Genetic: People with first-degree relatives who have anxiety disorders are at higher risk for developing PTSD themselves. Anxiety disorders that run in the family result in its members being more vulnerable to developing the disorder following a traumatic event.
  • Brain Structure: Individuals who developed PTSD after a traumatic event have been found to have a different structure in certain areas in the brain that regulate emotions and fear than those without the disorder.
  • Environmental: Exposure to trauma and stress can cause a person to develop PTSD. Children in families where addiction is present are likewise at greater risk for developing the disorder.
  • Emotional: People with co-occurring behavioral and emotional health issues, notably anxiety, depression, bipolar disorders, adjustment disorders, and substance use, are at a higher risk for developing PTSD.

 

Diagnosing PTSD

PTSD can occur throughout all age groups, even during the first year of life. A diagnosis of PTSD requires the manifestation of specific sets of symptoms that usually start to appear within three months after the trauma. In some cases, the symptoms may not become an issue until months or years later.

 

The three general categories are as follows:

  • Persistent, Invasive or Intrusive Symptoms – You may repeatedly think about the trauma, which may take the form of flashbacks when awake, nightmares when sleeping, prolonged emotional distress as a reaction to triggers, and distressing memories of the traumatic event.
  • Avoidance Symptoms – You may exhibit avoidance behavior, which may include evading topics about the event or shunning people, places, objects or situations that serve as a reminder of the event. Emotional numbness, detachment from family and friends, and loss of interest in related activities may be felt. It is common to use distractions, such as being overly obsessed with work or hobbies, as a way to escape the flashbacks that bring about painful images or a memory of the traumatic event.
  • Hypervigilance – The increased level of arousal may keep you constantly alert or on guard as an effort to stay safe or on the lookout for perceived threat to safety. The exaggerated startle response can result in your being easily angered, irritated or anxious. As a result, you may experience sleeping and concentration difficulty, rapid breathing, muscle tension, and other physical problems, such as headaches and digestive disorders.

 

PTSD is a complex condition. The symptoms vary from person to person, depending upon an individual’s makeup, co-occurring behavioral and emotional health conditions, and whether a support system is present. Many who leave it untreated can endure a lot misery. Missing out on treatment can exacerbate the difficulty in talking about their feelings to others, while others refuse to admit they have the disorder for fear of being perceived as weak or unstable. Instead of keeping your feelings bottled up, talk to a professional and benefit from how therapy can help you change and move on with your life.

 

Celebrating Life after the Trauma

Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is something that may last throughout your life. It does not mean, though, that the symptoms must limit or stop you from enjoying life’s pleasures. By seeking help to identify and resolve PTSD symptoms with therapy, it is possible to rise above the disorder and function again the way you deserve.

If you notice the hurtful symptoms are showing up, but feel uncomfortable speaking with someone, making an appointment with a trained counselor/therapist independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services – Cameron, NC – on Hwy 87, near Linden Oaks should be your next option. A skilled therapist may be the right fit professional who can help you address your symptoms and provide you with a specialized PTSD treatment.

When you are ready, call CCS Cameron, NC – on Hwy 87, near Linden Oaks to meet one of our many well experienced, trained independently contracted therapist to talk about your feelings in a comfortable and confidential space. Speaking to someone who understands your condition can really help you live and celebrate a fulfilling life.

 

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Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services

Counties: Harnett County

Areas: Cameron NC, Linden Oaks NC, Sprout Springs NC, Anderson Creek NC, Olivia NC, Pineview NC, Johnsonville NC, Spring Lake NC

Zip Codes: 28326, 28327, 27332, 28394

Rose Thomas, MA, LPC, LCAS, NCC

Specializes in: (Ages 5+) Children, Teens, Individuals, Couples and Families. Anxiety, Depression, ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder, ADHD, Relationship Issues, Marriage Counseling, Parenting, PTSD/Trauma Recovery, Acute Stress Disorder, Adult Sexual Abuse Survivors, Adjustment Disorders, Depressive Disorders, Persistent Depressive Disorder, Bipolar and Related Disorders, Self-injurious/Self-Harm, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, Separation Anxiety, Disruptive Disorders, Conduct Disorder, Marital Conflict and Discord, LGBT, Substance Use Disorders
 Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Tricare Prime, Tricare Select, Extra, Retired, Cash, HSA and FSA accepted (credit cards accepted)
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

 

 
Specializes in: (Ages 4+) Children, Individuals, families, PTSD, Trauma, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Adjustment Disorder, ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, communication skills, and Parenting Skills, Aggression, Behavior Management, Life transitions, Family Conflict, Difficulty Coping, Relationship Problems, Depression, Anxiety

InsuranceBCBSTricare, Cash, HSA and FSA accepted and Apple Pay
 
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