Counseling in North Miami and Plantation, FL, providing online services throughout Florida
What Is Trauma?
Trauma is a person’s emotional response to a distressing experience. Few people can go through life without encountering some kind of trauma. Unlike ordinary hardships, traumatic events tend to be sudden and unpredictable, involve a serious threat to life—like bodily injury or death—and feel beyond a person’s control. Most important, events are traumatic to the degree that they undermine a person's sense of safety in the world and create a sense that catastrophe could strike at any time. Parental loss in childhood, auto accidents, physical violence, sexual assault, military combat experiences, the unexpected loss of a loved one are commonly traumatic events.
Effects of Trauma
Sufferers of long-term trauma may develop emotional disturbances, such as extreme anxiety, anger, sadness, survivor’s guilt, disassociation, the inability to feel pleasure (anhedonia), or PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). The amygdala become hyperactive, its over-reaction to minor perturbations leading to an outpouring of stress hormones. Living in defense mode, and ever-vigilant to the possibility of threat, people may experience ongoing problems with sleep or physical pain, encounter turbulence in their personal and professional relationships, and feel a diminished sense of self-worth.
Positive psychological changes after trauma are also possible when people acknowledge their difficulties and see themselves as survivors rather than victims of unfortunate experience. These can include building resilience, the development of effective coping skills, and development of a sense of self.-efficacy. Some people may undergo post-traumatic growth, forging stronger relationships, redefining their relationship with new meaning and/or spiritual purpose, and gaining a deeper appreciation for life. It may sound contradictory, but post-traumatic growth can exist right alongside PTSD.
Treatment for Trauma
Left unaddressed or untreated, trauma can undermine relationships and wreak havoc on personal and professional lives. There are multiple avenues of treatment available for people experiencing from short- or long-term trauma symptoms.
Lifestyle changes are an early treatment option to consider. Eating healthy, exercising, avoiding alcohol and drugs, getting enough sleep, seeing loved ones regularly, and emphasizing self-care can help relieve trauma symptoms.
Psychotherapy can help a person build resilience, develop coping skills, and address unresolved feelings that are keeping them stuck. Exposure therapy and cognitive reappraisal therapy are two of the more reliable treatments for trauma and PTSD.
Trauma-informed care treats the whole person, recognizes past trauma and the maladaptive coping mechanisms that the individual may have adopted to survive their distressing experience.. Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy is frequently used to address the destructive effects of early trauma, proving particularly helpful to youth with PTSD and mood disorders resulting from abuse, violence, or unresolved grief.