Experiencing a traumatic life event can have lasting consequences. Not addressing them with timely therapy can cause these effects to be much more severe than they need to be. While effective therapy won't make your problems go away overnight, consulting a counselor can be the first step towards dealing with whatever issues you may be facing. Psychological trauma, if left untreated, can easily lead to additional problems such as insomnia and depression. Read the articles below to learn more about trauma and how to address it.
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Medically reviewed by Paige Henry, LMSW, J.D.
Trauma can be defined as an intense emotional response that usually occurs after a disturbing or distressing experience, such as surviving a car accident or natural disaster. While everyone can experience trauma differently, a person’s response may initially be shock and denial, followed by longer-term reactions, including flashbacks, unpredictable emotions, and physical symptoms. The first step toward overcoming trauma often involves understanding what it is and the spectrum of physical and psychological reactions that may accompany it. Additionally, trauma therapy, support groups, and other treatment programs may be available to help you through the process of healing and recovery.
When a person experiences a traumatic event, a natural response can be to forget it or deny that the trauma happened. Remembering the trauma can be uncomfortable, even painful, and the mind may respond by burying the feelings and memory of the event. This response can be a form of protection, but the brain may eventually release bits and pieces of the trauma through intrusive memories or flashbacks.
Managing trauma can be an overwhelming and sometimes frightening experience. When you take steps to understand why you are responding the way you are, such as through therapy, you may find that the symptoms are easier to manage. Our articles will go over the definition of trauma and what it means for you as a person, along with some important aspects and characteristics of trauma. You will be armed with information that can help you improve your response to times when memories emerge or certain stimuli trigger the trauma response.
Phobias and How they Form
Phobias can refer to an irrational level of fear that may be experienced in reaction to a stimulus, such as a specific situation (closed spaces) or thing (spiders). They are often associated with a traumatic experience and can be characterized by severe anxiety or panic attacks. While a person can develop a phobia at any point in life, they often emerge in childhood after a traumatic experience. For example, a person who almost drowned as a small child may develop an intense fear, or phobia, of water into adulthood.
Phobias do not have to control you. While it can be a natural and protective human response to a threat, fear that is irrational and negatively impacts your life should generally be addressed in therapy. Depending on the type of phobia you may be experiencing, many treatment options can be available. A therapist can help you learn coping skills and adjust negative thoughts and behaviors. Our articles will dive into phobias and why they can be so powerful, and they may also help you understand and manage them.
Fight, Flight, Freeze and How They Impact You
Humans usually have an innate and automatically activated defense system commonly known as the flight-flight-freeze response that serves to protect us from imminent danger and manage threats to our survival. While this can be a natural response to a perceived threat or danger, the stress response can lead to symptoms that are uncomfortable and interfere with our ability to function with ease.
During the stress response, the body typically releases hormones that make humans more efficient at fighting, running away, or staying “frozen” to protect themselves. These changes can include flushed skin, rapid breathing, tense muscles, increased heart rate and blood pressure, rapid breathing, and faster metabolism. These symptoms are commonly experienced by people who are managing anxiety and trauma-related disorders like PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
Recovering From Childhood Trauma
Experiencing trauma in childhood may lead to numerous challenges and possible stress-related disorders in adulthood. Some of these can include challenge avoidance, increased anxiety, unhealthy relationships, nightmares, low self-worth, feelings of shame, and difficulty recognizing or handling emotions.
If you experienced traumatic events during childhood, know that it may never be too late to start healing from or learning to manage the effects of past trauma. Some common treatment options can include cognitive behavioral therapy, cognitive processing therapy, eye movement desensitization therapy, and narrative exposure therapy.
Growing After Trauma
Can you grow after trauma? The answer is yes, you can. Growing after the trauma has ended can be quite hard, but working through the process of recovery and healing may improve your life. It can be possible to move on, even with PTSD, but you will likely need some support along the way. Therapy can support your growth in many ways and help you understand yourself to a greater degree.
Therapy For Trauma
The effects of trauma in childhood and adulthood can be overwhelming and lead to intense emotions and uncomfortable stress response symptoms. Many therapeutic modalities have been developed to treat and lessen the impact trauma has on a person’s life.
Specifically, trauma-focused therapy normally addresses the needs and mental health symptoms common in those who have experienced traumatic stress.
Benefits Of Online Therapy
Online therapy usually takes traditional in-office therapy sessions online. An online platform may allow you to log in to your sessions from home or another location with an internet connection. In addition, you may be able to choose between phone, video, or live chat sessions with your therapist. Without having to commute or speak to a professional face-to-face, it may be easier and more comfortable to receive support.
Effectiveness Of Online Therapy
Online therapy can be an effective tool for overcoming traumatic experiences, with studies backing up its effectiveness. One study found that online CBT and EMDR sessions were usually as effective as in-person options in treating PTSD. Clients with a trauma history typically saw a 55% average reduction in trauma symptoms after treatment.
Trauma can be challenging to go through, and it often leaves behind various impacts that can make daily life difficult. While opening up about the traumatic events you’ve experienced can seem intimidating, working through trauma with a therapist can help you heal and improve your quality of life. Attending therapy sessions online and personalizing the experience by choosing the time, location, and mode of each appointment may help you feel more comfortable.