Psychologist, Gestalt Psychotherapist
Perth, Western Australia
A traumatic event is usually one that is life threatening or likely to cause injury, and that produces feelings of terror, horror, or helplessness. It is normal for people to feel emotional shock; and immediately after the fight or flight response people often need reassurance that they are safe.
Everyone responds differently to traumatic events and although the changes people may experience following a trauma can seem severe, they are often normal. Many people feel much better within three months after the event, but others recover more slowly, and some do not recover enough without help.
There are four main symptom clusters that may indicate the presence of a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). These are:
- Intrusive thoughts or memories: Recurrent thoughts or reexperiencing the traumatic event can include flashbacks and/or nightmares that may or may not appear to be connected to the trauma.
- Avoidance of triggers (sights, sounds or smells) or situations that remind them of the trauma. Avoiding a painful memory may result in feeling numb.
- Negative changes in thoughts and/or mood. Trauma can change the way people view themselves, others, and the world. Relationships with others can become tense and it is difficult to become intimate with people as trust decreases. Guilt and shame are also common; for example, “Why couldn’t I have done ….” Grief and depression can also result from trauma.
- Increased arousal and reactivity: Hypervigilance, difficulty sleeping or concentrating, increased irritability/anger.
Some people increase their use of alcohol or other substances after a trauma; which can slow down recovery and prevent learning new and more effective coping skills to deal with distress.
Many of the reactions to trauma are connected to one another. For example, a flashback may make you feel out of control, and will therefore produce fear and arousal. These reactions can be confusing and can make one feel more fearful. Many people think that this means that they are "going crazy" or "losing it."
As you become aware of the changes you have gone through since the trauma, and as you process these experiences during treatment, the symptoms should become less distressing.
Contact Bernadette if you would like further information, assessment or to discuss treatment options.
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Phone: 0417 777 230
Mount Lawley Counselling Centre
13 Alvan Street
Mt Lawley (Perth), WA 6050