Have You Experienced a Traumatic Situation?
- Do you experience distressing memories or dreams?
- Do you feel your life lacks pleasure due to feeling numb?
- Do you find yourself preparing for the worst?
- Is it difficult to let go of tense feelings, even when trying to sleep?
Traumatic stress can have a lasting impact on you both emotionally and physically. You might feel depressed and hopeless, angry and irritable, or anxious and fearful. You might struggle with feelings of shame and self-blame. You could find yourself feeling isolated or disconnected from others, finding it difficult to trust people or feeling rejected. You might have physical symptoms such as muscle aches, fatigue, and pain. These feelings can be painful and make it difficult to feel at peace in your life. If you’re feeling this way, you’re not alone. Many people experience some form of trauma in their lives.
Trauma impacts everyone differently and can lead to anxiety, depression, or even post traumatic stress disorder. When we experience a particularly threatening situation or loss, especially when feeling helpless or unsafe, the experience can become “frozen” in our brain. Along with the memory are the negative feelings, thoughts, and sensations associated with that experience. Over time, if you think of the experience again, all the negative thoughts, feelings, and sensations can flood back in as the experience is not yet fully processed. For example, when reminded of the experience, you might notice that you feel anxious, your heart starts racing, your breathing increases and becomes more shallow, you feel like withdrawing or avoiding the situation and you may have intrusive thoughts about the experience. These symptoms can be quite disturbing and could indicate Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.
PTSD treatment with EMDR therapy can help your brain to process these experiences and move you to a safe state again. You will still recall the experiences, but with a reduction in the negative thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Those thoughts and feelings may be replaced with positive new beliefs that can help you to “move past your past.” Your EMDR therapist can also help you assess whether other trauma therapies would also be beneficial for you.
What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
PTSD can occur following an event that is threatening or feels overwhelming or uncontrollable. It can be a specific event such as an accident, rape, war, natural disaster, or a death of a loved one. It can also be an ongoing stressor such as abuse, interpersonal conflict, abandonment, bullying, or prolonged stress. In these situations, people often experience a lack of safety or control, or a sense of powerlessness or helplessness. You also don’t have to experience the situation first-hand to develop PTSD. People who witness or hear about trauma from others can also develop PTSD. PTSD symptoms can begin soon after the event, or months, even years later.
When you have PTSD, the symptoms seem to stick around and don’t get better with time.
The symptoms themselves may arise suddenly or when triggered by something reminding you of the traumatic experience. PTSD treatment can be an important tool to help you learn to feel safe and secure again.
Common PTSD Symptoms
Typically, PTSD symptoms fall into the following categories:
1. Stressor: experiencing, witnessing or indirectly experiencing (such as via someone else) a significant threat (or perceived threat) to one’s life or safety.
2. The stressor is intrusive: you re-experience the traumatic event via intrusive memories, nightmares, flashbacks, high levels of stress in response to reminders of the event, and/or physical symptoms in response to reminders.
3. Avoidance: you tend to avoid thoughts or feelings reminding you of the trauma as well as reminders such as people and places.
4. Impact on your thoughts and mood: you may experience an inability to remember details, have negative beliefs about oneself (e.g., “I am bad”), blame yourself or others for the trauma, experience negative emotions (fear, horror, anger, shame), have a lack of interest in significant activities, and/or an inability to experience positive emotions.
5. Reactivity and arousal: you may experience irritability, reckless behavior, hypervigilance, heightened startle response, difficulty concentrating, and/or sleep disturbance.
6. Detachment: for some people (not all), you may feel detached from oneself or as if things aren’t real.
PTSD can be very scary both emotionally and physically. If you are experiencing PTSD symptoms, it’s important to recognize them and know that help is available. It might feel overwhelming to imagine even thinking about the source of your PTSD again. EMDR therapy is a very safe and effective way to process your experience, reduce your symptoms and move on without having to relive all the details. You don’t have to live with these symptoms. PTSD treatment can help you get unstuck and return to feeling like yourself again.
PTSD Treatment with EMDR Can Help You Reclaim Your Life
Research has shown that EMDR effectively decreases the symptoms of post-traumatic stress for the majority of clients. Your therapist may also use cognitive-behavioral therapy as part of your PTSD treatment. During therapy, emphasis will be placed first and foremost on creating a safe space for you and teaching you coping skills to regulate difficult emotion and ease your symptoms. You will go slowly through the process addressing your experience as you are ready. Your therapist will help you draw upon your strengths and resources as you process and release difficult information.
Successful PTSD treatment requires a therapist who has a unique understanding of the nature of trauma and use an approach sensitive to your emotions and past experiences. We understand how to guide you through the process in a safe and effective way. We will also monitor your progress to ensure you feel comfortable and satisfied with the process. If you identify with the symptoms of PTSD, PTSD treatment is worth the investment in yourself. PTSD treatment can help you feel better, improve your relationships and feel more confident.
Get Help for PTSD Symptoms
If you are experiencing symptoms of PTSD, things can change. EMDR has been shown to be an effective treatment for PTSD and symptoms of traumatic stress. No matter how long you have been experiencing symptoms or the traumatic event occurred, therapy can help you feel better.
To get started today:
Contact us at 832-559-2622 or schedule an appointment online with a trauma counselor or our EMDR specialist, Becky Reiter.