Post-traumatic Stress Disorder or Trauma Exposure
Experiencing a trauma is actually common. Everyone experiences post-trauma symptoms immediately following exposure to the event, but for most people, these symptoms decrease naturally over time. However, for some, symptoms can persist. If your symptoms continue beyond a year, it is unlikely they will decrease without therapy.
Exposure to traumatic events can produce symptoms in the following four categories:
- Re-experiencing the event, many people experience flashbacks, intrusive and distressing images, thoughts, or dreams.
- Avoidance of reminders, it is natural to want to push away feelings, thoughts, and experiences related to a traumatic event. However, some people begin to avoid places, situations, and other people, stop doing things they previously enjoyed, feel fear in places that aren’t dangerous, or even feel detached from reality.
- Increased arousal, many people report difficulty falling or staying asleep, irritability and outbursts of anger, difficulties concentrating, and easily startled. All of these symptoms make it difficult to function in life.
- Mood changes, most people will experience depression, changes in their personality, difficulties with motivation, and mood swings.
The therapies we use to treat PTSD are Prolonged Exposure (with adults and adolescents) and Trauma-focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy for children and adolescents. These treatments will help individuals be able to:
- Identify and reduce problematic symptoms
- Develop a sense of control and confidence in relation to a trauma memory
- Be able to realistically distinguish between probable and unlikely threats
- Approach people, places and situations that are not dangerous and bring happiness
- Build mastery over distressing thoughts and feelings
- For youth and adolescents: bring the family together around recovery