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When Should You Consider Trauma Therapy?
Trauma is complex, from its definition to its treatment. Trauma therapy can provide relief if you or someone you love has been struggling in the aftermath of a traumatic event. In this article, we will dive into what trauma looks like, when to consider psychiatric treatment, and information on the different types of trauma therapy.
A traumatic event is one that is emotionally distressing or life-threatening, such as a serious accident, domestic violence, rape, abuse, natural disaster, or war. Trauma is the emotional response to that disturbing event. Initially, people may feel confused, numb, anxious, exhausted, or even dissociated. It may also arise as a result of distressing events repeated over time, such as childhood abuse and neglect.
Many people who struggle with the long-term symptoms of trauma do not know that what happened qualifies as a traumatic event. This can make finding treatment difficult. Symptoms of trauma include:
Chronic fatigue (sleep disorders)
Avoidance (i.e., avoiding anything that reminds them of the traumatic event)
When to go to therapy for trauma
Trauma is different for everyone. Deciding to go to therapy is a major step forward and should be celebrated. However, it can be difficult to take this step, as people are often unaware of when they should see a professional. Generally, people should consult a trauma therapist or psychiatrist when one or more of the following applies:
History of trauma
While trauma impacts everyone differently, it is a good idea to consult a professional soon after the traumatic event or as soon as the symptoms of trauma are realized. For instance, it is common for adults to realize aspects of their childhood were traumatizing years later — it is not too late to get help. However, the sooner a person gets help, the more effective treatment will be. Untreated trauma can cause a progression of symptoms and heavily impact one’s day-to-day life, relationships, career, and sense of well-being.
Symptoms start to interfere with daily functioning
A common reason why people decide to go to trauma therapy is that they have become overwhelmed with the symptoms. Trauma can be debilitating. It not only interferes with one’s well-being but also one’s daily functioning.
For instance, dissociation can make it feel like one’s life is not really happening, as though they are watching a movie instead of living. It can also cause gaps in memory or identity changes. This can make it hard to connect with others and truly enjoy one’s life.
Two other symptoms that often lead people to trauma therapy are flashbacks and avoidance. People living with trauma often avoid certain situations to prevent a flashback. For example, if the traumatic event was a violent assault, they may avoid areas that look like the one in which they were attacked. Those traumatized by serious car accidents may avoid driving. Trauma from sexual assault could cause an aversion to intimacy and so on.
Struggling with substance abuse or self-sabotage
Trauma can cause people to explore different avenues of relief. However, some of these avenues can be harmful. Unfortunately, trauma is common to drive people into self-destructive behaviors, such as self-medicating with substances. This can lead to substance abuse.
Similarly, people with trauma often unknowingly engage in self-sabotaging behaviors in different areas of life. However, self-sabotage typically manifests itself in similar ways. Below are some ineffective coping mechanisms commonly used to self-sabotage:
In trauma therapy, a therapist or psychiatrist will help the client identify the underlying cause of these behaviors. Identifying the issues is crucial to stop the cycle from repeating itself. Most often, people self-sabotage due to core beliefs that they are inadequate or undeserving of happiness. This is simply not true, but it can still be difficult to unlearn without professional help.
Have tried therapy before without success
Trauma can be difficult to treat if the mental health provider does not know what they are treating or if they take the wrong approach. Talk therapy on its own is often insufficient for treating trauma because it is impossible to think one’s way out of trauma. While the goal is to understand why something triggers a flashback, the body will continue to respond negatively.
Trauma-focused therapy aims to rewire the brain’s immediate negative response to a trigger. It achieves this through identifying triggers and responses to those triggers, then developing new, healthier coping mechanisms. By managing symptoms of trauma, the client should see a reduction in symptoms over time.
Call for more information
The symptoms of trauma can prevent a person from living their life. Trauma therapy can help relieve these symptoms and put a happy life within reach. Call our office today to learn more about therapy and how it can help.
Check out what others are saying about our services on Yelp: Trauma Therapy in Myrtle Beach, SC.
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