We can experience trauma when we or someone we love is threatened or in danger. We can also be traumatized witnessing a threat or harm to someone else. An unexpected illness or loss can be traumatic as can the loss of a job or one's financial stability. We can be impacted by trauma in many ways. Most people experience shock, fear and anxiety followed by sadness or depression. Most of us recover from trauma in time. Some people experience a delayed recovery. We are all unique and consequently, the same type of trauma can impact a person differently and recovery may take longer. Some researchers maintain that previous trauma may influence recovery time. Certainly time and how we come to terms with what has occurred influences recovery.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
In order to be diagnosed with PTSD, six criteria have to be met. The person had to have experienced, witnessed or was confronted with an event that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of the person or others. The person's response to the event was intense fear, helplessness or horror. Often the individual will have recurrent and distressing recollections of the traumatic event. This may take the form of intrusive images or thoughts, flashbacks, nightmares, or strong emotional or physical reactions when the person encounters reminders of the event. Avoidance symptoms are also prevalent. This can take the form of effortful avoidance and numbing or dissociation. Patients may attempt to avoid thoughts, feelings or conversations about the trauma and try to avoid activities, places, or people that remind them of the trauma.
Numbing or dissociation are reflected by the inability to recall important aspects of the event; diminished interest or participation in significant activities; feelings of detachment or estrangement from others; or a restricted range of affect. Traumatized patients may also have a sense of a foreshortened future. Veterans are vulnerable to PTSD as are assault and rape victims. Often shame and fear of negative judgement are barriers to seeking help. Patients may try a number of maladaptive ways to cope with their feelings which may include substance-abuse and other forms of self-medication and escape from psychological pain.
If you've experienced a traumatic event or are presenting the aforementioned symptoms, contact Markham Psychological Services.