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The concept of trauma can be complex but in this article we try to break down what it means and how we can help treat trauma.

What is Trauma and PTSD?

Trauma is a psychological reaction to an event that is deeply unpleasant or stressful. It can be frightening situations where there have been threats to life. You may have experienced these events yourself, but you may also be traumatized by seeing or hearing about other people who have experienced these kinds of threats. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a medical diagnosis that describes a complex set of symptoms that can occur after experiencing a trauma. However, not everyone who has experienced a trauma later suffers from PTSD. We are differently equipped, mentally and physically, to deal with trauma. Trauma and PTSD can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender or background. But there is help available.

Statistics and facts

  • According to some studies, about 7-8% of the population is affected by PTSD at some point in their lives.
  • Women are twice as likely as men to develop PTSD.

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Symptoms and signs

People suffering from PTSD may experience:

  • Re-experiencing the trauma through nightmares or flashbacks
  • Emotional numbness
  • Greatly increased nervous system activity, which can include insomnia, irritability and exaggerated fear reactions.

Many people with PTSD report a constant sense of danger or threat, even in safe environments, which can make everyday activities and relationships difficult.

Different forms of therapy

When it comes to dealing with PTSD, there are several treatment options to consider to make the difficult journey a little easier. For example, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a proven method that focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviours. Also, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a proven effective therapy that can help you process and re-evaluate traumatic memories. Another proven method is tapping and/or havening. This is a therapeutic method that you can learn yourself with the help of a therapist. Choosing one of these therapies, in combination with medication such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs, is often part of the treatment plan. It is important to discuss the different options with a qualified psychologist or therapist to find the right treatment for you.

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How therapy can help

As therapy can give you tools to manage symptoms, it helps you work through the emotional and psychological impact of the underlying trauma. Although it can feel uncomfortable, or even overwhelming, therapy has many benefits. It gives you a safe place to express and explore your feelings which can significantly help the recovery process. Many people believe that seeking help is a sign of weakness. This is a tragic misconception; it takes strength to take the first step towards recovery.

We are ready to make the difficult easier

If you or someone you know is experiencing the symptoms and feelings described, it may be a good idea to talk to a psychologist or therapist. You can easily book an initial session with one of our experienced staff today to take the step towards treatment.

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10 common questions about PTSD and trauma

What is PTSD?

PTSD stands for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and is a mental illness that can develop after experiencing a traumatic event. This condition can lead to severe emotional and physical symptoms.

How does trauma occur?

Trauma usually occurs after a serious event that causes mental, emotional or physical harm. It can include anything from natural disasters and accidents to personal experiences such as abuse, war or involuntary loss. People can also be traumatized by witnessing an event that was threatening to other people or hearing from others how they experienced a traumatic situation. How trauma occurs depends on a person’s age, mental and physical preparedness, and the duration of the threatening event.

What are the most common symptoms of PTSD?

The most common symptoms include reliving the traumatic event, avoidance behaviour, increased vigilance, and negative changes in emotions and thoughts. These symptoms can be long-lasting and affect everyday life.

How is PTSD diagnosed?

Diagnosis of PTSD is carried out by qualified psychologists or psychiatrists and often involves both self-report tests and clinical interviews. Diagnostic tools such as the DSM-5 are also used.

Is there a cure for PTSD?

There is no “cure” in the traditional sense, but there are treatment methods such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and medication that can help manage the symptoms.

What are ‘flashbacks’?

Flashbacks are intense and often unpleasant re-experiences of the traumatic event. They may involve seeing, hearing or smelling something that reminds you of the traumatic event. This can happen automatically, i.e. you can have bodily reactions or feelings of discomfort without understanding why it happens. Strong anxiety as a reaction is also common.

How does PTSD affect relationships?

PTSD can make it difficult to maintain close relationships due to symptoms such as isolation, irritability and lack of trust. This can also lead to problems with work and social activities.

Is PTSD related to depression?

Yes, PTSD and depression often go hand in hand. Many people with PTSD also experience symptoms of depression, which can complicate diagnosis and treatment.

What is the difference between acute stress disorder and PTSD?

Acute stress disorder occurs immediately after the traumatic event and lasts for a short period of time. If symptoms persist for more than a month, it can develop into PTSD.

How to seek help?

If you or someone you know is suffering from PTSD or trauma, it is important to seek professional help. You can book an appointment with a psychologist or therapist via our website. We make the difficult easier by offering online session options.

What is Complex Trauma?

Complex trauma occurs when a person may have been exposed to highly unpleasant situations over a long period of time, such as bullying, mental breakdown or harassment. The nature of the trauma may also depend on the age at which you experienced the trauma.

How a psychologist treats trauma and PTSD

If you think you or someone you know is suffering from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) or other trauma symptoms, it can be scary and confusing. It is important to seek professional help as soon as possible. Remember that only a qualified healthcare provider can make a diagnosis and prescribe a treatment plan. If the situation is urgent, call emergency services immediately on 000 or call LIfeline Australia on 13 11 14 (24 hour service).

  • Step 1: Diagnostic Evaluation
    The first step is to undergo a diagnostic evaluation with a psychologist or psychiatrist to determine if you have PTSD or other related conditions.
  • Step 2: Individualized treatment plan
    If a diagnosis is made, your healthcare provider will design an individualized treatment plan based on your needs.
  • Step 3: Psychotherapy
    Various forms of psychotherapy have been shown to be effective in treating PTSD. The most common are cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT). Another proven method is tapping and/or havening.
  • Step 4: Pharmacological treatment
    In some cases, medications such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs may be prescribed to help you manage your symptoms.
  • Step 5: Monitoring and adjustment
    Regular follow-up with your healthcare provider is essential to adjust the treatment plan as you progress.
  • Step 6: Self-help and support groups
    Many people find it useful to attend support groups or use self-help techniques, such as mindfulness and relaxation exercises. Therefore, it is often part of your treatment plan.
  • Step 7: Long-term follow-up
    After you complete the initial treatment phase, long-term follow-up and possibly continued therapy or medication will be necessary to help you maintain your well-being.

Next steps

Dealing with PTSD or trauma can be a long and challenging process, but it is entirely possible to feel better and regain control of your life. With us, you can easily get in touch with psychologists and therapists who can help you on your journey. Don’t hesitate to take the first step and seek help today. Together we can make the hard things easier.

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Written by melissa

Melissa is a Certified Kinesiologist who focusses on a client-centred, holistic and integrative approach to health and wellness. She has extensive experience in managing stress, anxiety, fears, phobias and trauma in her clients. Melissa uses visual and auditory feedback to directly access and solve the cause of psychological stressors in the body so that optimal well-being and balance is achieved.