When you are dealing with trauma, you may be experiencing an array of frightening symptoms. This page gives a brief oversight of trauma: timing of symptoms, traumatic events, debriefing, memories and treatment.
Just in case you have landed here, because you feel traumatised, I just want you to know that you have every chance of getting better!
If you are suffering from post-trauma symptoms or PTSD, recovery does not have to mean years of therapy either.
If you were involved in - or witnessed - a traumatic event, your reaction may depend on some extend on when it exactly happened. If you have very recently been traumatised, there is every hope that you will begin to feel better within 2 - 4 weeks, if not before. Whatever you are feeling now is very likely to be normal.
If it happened 4-6 weeks ago and you are still really upset about it, now is the time to seek help. Trauma counselling (see video below) can help you to deal with it and overcome the distressing symptoms of post traumatic stress, and even PTSD.
|PTSD is diagnosed by a mental health
professional, see my page on symptoms of PTSD for
If you were fine before the event and you haven't suffered any mental health problems before, it may just be a matter of a two or three sessions. However don't be disappointed if it does take a little longer.
If you have gone through quite a traumatic time as a youngster - your recent trauma may touch on that. Whether you are suffering from results of past trauma or recent post-traumatic stress/PTSD, you can recover.
Questions about hypnosis? See: Hypnosis online FAQ.
An incident is potentially traumatic if there is some element to it that personalises it for you, e.g. it involved a child of the same age as yours, someone doing the same job as you, driving the same car, the same age as your brother, similar circumstances to you, etc.
If you have witnessed a traumatic event particularly if they were people close to you, the above time-scale counts for you too.
‘Emotional debriefing’ (as opposed to operational debriefing as used for example in the police) is now not considered helpful - at least not in individual sessions. There appears to be little agreement on whether it is useful in groups.
On the whole debriefing is not often needed since as human beings we can, on the whole, come to terms with even significant traumatic events - quite naturally, in a supportive environment.
We usually adapt to, absorb or manage the changes that have taken place as a result of a trauma. Those changes can be external, or internal - ‘inside our head’. Supportive people around us, rest and the passing of time all help. (See also: Coping with PTSD)
Questions about hypnosis? See: Hypnosis online FAQ.
It is possible that when you are over these horrible symptoms, you begin to see that in some way good has come of it.
I am almost biting my lips as I am writing this, because the experience of trauma is so personal and if you read this soon after a traumatic experience, I can understand your wanting to take issue with me on that!
However, you may feel that you have overcome, that you have survived. You may even feel pleased about the way you acted at the time, or the way that you have dealt with the difficulties post-incident.
When you are beginning to recover, try to discover any positive aspects to what has happened - such as an increased appreciation of personal relationships, the discovery of a new zest for life, or a feeling of strength.
However, if you are left with frightening symptoms - even many years after the event, ‘trying to forget’ and ‘pulling yourself together’ just don’t work. I suspect you have given yourself a hard time for not being able to get on top things. You may also have become increasingly isolated. Trauma counselling can help. (See also: PTSD treatment) However, your counsellor needs to be skilled in trauma work.
Your traumatic memories can be treated, maybe even in just a few sessions - even if the event happened years ago. The memory can be de-traumatised with a safe, non-intrusive and reliable technique.
Visual Kinaesthetic Dissociation (VKD), often called the ‘rewind’ technique, but really being what is called trauma-focussed 'imaginal exposure' with guided relaxation, does not require you to tell your counsellor any details of the trauma if that is not what you want.
EMDR too is a well-recognised treatment for PTSD.
Trauma counselling can help you to move on with your life. It gives you the opportunity to consider how you have lived with the trauma and adapted to try to avoid being confronted with any reminders. You may find that several aspects of your life have been impacted, yet you may have been unaware of that.
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PTSD can be treated quickly and effectively in the majority of cases. Whilst excellent results can often be obtained within just a few sessions, sometimes a longer course of counselling may be helpful, particularly if the trauma is related to years of abuse. However, thankfully, treatment ultimately can be just as successful.
You may also be interested in:
| PTSD treatment
Natural treatments for depression
PTSD in veterans
Brain Injury Symptoms and your relationship
How to get over a nervous breakdown
How to deal with depression
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