Trauma & PTSD
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is becoming more and more prevalent it seems. Before the 1970s, it used to be called shell shock or soldier’s heart and referred to the impact that war had on many soldiers. In the late 70’s, it became known as PTSD.
More recently, it has become clear that many people who suffer from PTSD have never actually been in combat but have experienced other traumatic events that have been very difficult to work through, with the symptoms sometimes persisting many years after the original trauma occurred.
Now it is understood and accepted that situations of abuse, violence, neglect, being attacked, serious accidents, and other potentially life threatening situations, can also cause PTSD.
The primary symptoms of PTSD can be separated into 4 clusters:
- Intrusion symptoms: nightmares, flasbacks, intrusive memories, and heightened and prolonged distress when these occur.
- Avoidance: avoiding any thoughts or feelings about the trauma and / or avoiding trauma related external reminders (people, places, etc)
- Negative alterations in mood and cognition: Loss of memory about the event, persistent negative beliefs about the self and world (e.g., “I am bad,” “the world is unsafe”), heightened and persistent negative emotion (anger, shame, terror, etc), loss of interest in things, and feeling alienated from others.
- Heightened arousal and reactivity: irritability, aggression, hypervigilence, self-destructive, problems concentrating, sleep disturbances
Just as research into PTSD has grown tremendously over the last 20 years, so has the emphasis on developing effective treatments to treat PTSD.
One of the most well-researched approaches is known as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). EMDR has been shown to work very well in treating PTSD. Because of it’s effectiveness, it is one of the approaches we value and use.
Another evidence-based treatment approach we use is called neurofeedback. Neurofeedback helps to train the brain to regulate itself better. And since many of the symptoms of PTSD result from a dysregulated nervous system, it can be very effective restoring overall balance.