● Domestic violence
● Physical or sexual Assault
● Accidents in which you and/or others are seriously injured
● Witnessed violent and/or gruesome death or injury of another person
● Natural disaster
● Terrorism or war experience (as a soldier or civilian)
● Experiencing the death of a child, or the prolonged and painful death of a loved one
● Home invasion
● Hearing about the trauma experienced by a loved one
In my experience as a therapist, only small proportion of my clients who are dealing with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are aware of the cause of their distress. More often, when I work with these individuals, they are initially confused by why, seemingly all of a sudden, they are experiencing significant difficulty coping with aspects of daily life that weren't an issue previously. In doing a history and looking at when the distressing symptoms started - they are often surprised to recognize the connection to a traumatic event in their lives. Or if they survived trauma in childhood, we might find that an adult trauma has triggered a reaction to the earlier trauma(s).
Finding yourself in the valley of the shadow of death (i.e., experiencing PTSD symptoms) is a frightening experience... It can be terrifying to witness your mind and body reacting in ways beyond your conscious control. Understanding that your reactions are normal, given what you've been through, and also understanding the basic mechanisms of how trauma affects the mind and body, can often help to lessen confusion and fear. This information can also provide you with a basis to start to identify ways to minimize and deal effectively with your distress, so that you won't feel so helpless.
Traumatic stress reactions that continue beyond four weeks can indicate the onset of PTSD. In the case of PTSD, professional support is vital. It will be important to find a professional to work with who specializes in trauma counselling or therapy. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and/or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) are recommended treatments for PTSD.
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