What is Trauma?
Trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape, and other violent acts as well as natural disaster. Initial typical reactions to these events include shock and denial. Longer-term reactions include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships, and even physical symptoms.
Trauma affects many people far more than most people would assume. According to some trauma researchers, up to 75% of Americans have experienced some traumatic experience in their lifetimes.
Traumatic exposure has been implicated as a risk factor for numerous mental disorders, including depression, substance abuse, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Trauma is also associated with such physical health problems as heart, chronic lung, and liver diseases. Negative health behaviors, such as smoking and overeating; poor social and occupational functioning; and overall decreased quality of life, are also common. It is the experience of being overwhelmed by the situation.
The reason is that we carry trauma in heartbreaking sensations that we feel in our bodies. When we experienced a traumatic experience, our body feels crushed by the trauma, but the mind tries to be logical and move on. Thus, it becomes an internal struggle between mind and body.
How do people deal with trauma?
People are survivors and will do whatever is necessary to move forward with their lives.
Some people dealing with trauma will:
Self medicate themselves with alcohol and drugs
Cut and self mutilate their bodies
among other things
Will be able to accomplish great things and make tremendous external advances, by making great efforts to push aside what happened to them. But they may still be dealing in secret with the toll of the trauma quietly fearing that if the people around them find out they will be rejected and lose connection to those people.
Just because a person who has experienced trauma can accomplish a lot doesn’t mean that they are not profoundly dealing with the effects of the traumatic event. We come into these situations with our prior background.
Early traumatic experiences are a factor.
If we have had prior experiences of being helpless early in our life and then, later on in our life, we again experience another traumatic experience, that old orientation gets revived. In other words, the effect can be cumulative.
Therefore, when it comes to the effects trauma can have on us, nothing is ever simple and straightforward.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
For most people, a person who has post-traumatic stress disorder (or PTSD) is only akin to males who have fought in combat. However, actual medical research has demonstrated that anyone who has dealt with some terrible traumatic event and wrestling with the aftermath of that event might have PTSD. Individuals can develop PTSD after exposure to a potentially traumatic event that is beyond a typical stressor.
Some of the events that may lead to an individual suffering from PTSD may include:
Violent personal assaults
Combat and other forms of violence
According to PTSD United, Inc., a nonprofit, 70% of American adults have experienced a significant traumatic event at least once in their lifetime, and 20% of those victims developed some level of PTSD. Similarly, according to the Institute of mental health, an estimated 3.6% of U.S. adults had PTSD in the past year.
Interestingly, studies have shown women are twice as likely to experience PTSD when compared to men. Traumatic experiences such as child abuse, sexual assault, rape, and physical attack or simply witnessing violence and bloodshed can cause a person to have symptoms of PTSD. All this means that anyone suffering from PTSD is not alone.
Victims may have:
difficulty expressing what they feel
avoid those things that remind them of the trauma
they are hypervigilant
anger and irritable
trouble focusing and being productive at work
The good news is that there are a host of viable and effective ways to help individuals with PTSD
There is no such thing as a small trauma.
As was stated above, a person’s reaction to trauma is personal and individualized. No two people will experience a traumatic situation the same way.
What is important to remember is that we are all social creatures that need to be validated.
The offices of Ginny Estupinian Ph.D. can help.
When you work with my office, your story, your experience, will be validated, and never judged. You will be treated with the dignity and respect you deserve. Together, we will help you integrate the traumatic experience providing you with a better sense of understanding and control over the experience.
Over the last decade, I have worked with various individuals who have been victims of severe trauma. There is not a situation that I have not encountered. Working with clients from the Center for Survivors of Torture to the Veterans Administration, I have worked with a host of complex post-traumatic syndrome disorders and associated issues.
I have also helped clients who have been victims of highly publicized crimes, shootings, natural disasters, and other severe tragedies. Often these clients not only had to deal with the impact of the original trauma, but they also had to withstand the ongoing ordeal of court proceedings and media inquiries that followed.
Working together, each of these clients was able to navigate through all the proceedings successfully and rebuilt their lives.
Each traumatic situation and the effects it has on a person are unique to that person. My goal is always to work with the client to integrate back their life and give them the peace they seek.