Taking The Leap: Seeking Initial Counseling After A Trauma
For many, it can be a challenge to accept that they need help from others when trying to get on track and find their way after a trauma. It can be humbling to accept that you need initial counseling and that letting someone else in can help you to begin to feel healthy and happy again. Trauma can be anything that happens in your life that has a lasting impact and causes deep distress. It could be something as seemingly inconspicuous like a nasty comment made by a loved one or more of a physical trauma like an assault or accident. Trauma is essentially a lasting marker in the brain resulting in unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, or even physical symptoms like nausea or headaches.
Trauma is Multifarious:
No case and no person is exactly the same, while one thing may leave a lasting impact on one, another may prove resilient. That same person may falter in another situation, as individual resiliency is idiosyncratic and hard to predict. We expect those exposed to a natural disaster, violent attack, or a car crash to be traumatized by their experience, while forgetting that some traumas are more difficult to recognize, like racism, oppression, or discrimination.
Traumatic all the same, our society has deeply rooted patterns and mechanisms that lead to the subjugation of people based on their gender, race, or ideology. Certain concessions that we encounter everyday may not seem abnormal, but only because of the maladaptive conditioning to accept as norm. These things affect us on a deeper level than we may recognize, validating a call for reflection into our existing thought patterns and schemas.
Shock to The System:
Post-traumatic stress disorder, while often associated with soldiers' post-combat, is something that can develop in any individual that has experienced some sort of shocking or traumatizing event. When you encounter a stressor or experience a trauma, your nervous system reacts by releasing certain chemicals that elicit particular survival responses. The infamous fight-or-flight response, characterized by the activation of the sympathetic nervous system, meant to keep the individual from harm.
During this response, heart rate is high and blood is mobilized toward the arms and legs, leaving less energy to be used for cognitive functions or immunity. In PTSD, this response is elicited more frequently, leading the individual to experience extreme distress due to an over-reactive nervous system keeping them on edge and expecting a threat.
Treatment for those that have experienced a trauma is unique in every case, but usually involves some form of cognitive-behavioral therapy in the hopes of smoothing out the existing triggered pathways and replace them with healthier and less reactive ones. The premise behind CBT is to establish coping strategies that target problem behaviors and thought patterns, essentially bolstering these abilities in the brain through attended exercise.
A widespread method for treating mental disorders including PTSD, CBT allows for flexibility to find what works for you and your lifestyle. While visiting with a therapist can be intimidating, the internet has allowed for the emergence of online interfaces like BetterHelp, which help to remotely connect those needing help with appropriate licensed mental health professionals. By identifying and working through our own traumas and how this affects us, we can find ways both to cope and live a more satisfying and comfortable existence.