There are a variety of treatment options for trauma, but before we dive further into those, let’s address what trauma is and the signs to look out for.
What is Trauma
Trauma is an event or a series of events that can wound the physical body and also the mind. In regard to the psyche or mind, the traumatic event is usually so sudden, so unexpected or so violent that it cannot be totally assimilated or known by consciousness. Because the event of trauma is so sudden and not assimilated by consciousness, it can reappear immediately or years later through nightmares, flashbacks and other symptoms.
Types of Trauma
There are three types of trauma:
1. Acute Trauma which is related to one incident
2. Chronic Trauma which is trauma that is repeated, including prolonged abuse and/or violence
3. Complex Trauma related to varied and multiple events
It is important to know that not every traumatized person develops long term trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some people exhibit symptoms of trauma that disappear in a few weeks. People with PTSD may not show symptoms for months or years after the traumatizing event. And some people will deal with trauma for a lifetime and still function well.
Symptoms of Trauma
Emotional symptoms of trauma can include anger, denial, anxiety and panic, fear, shame, grief, depression, difficulty with relationships, avoidance, feelings of hopelessness and difficulty focusing, to mention a few.
Physical symptoms include anxiety and panic attacks, nausea, dizziness, altered sleep patterns and insomnia, headaches, eating disorders and dissociative experiences.
Treatment for Trauma
There are a number of treatment approaches for trauma, including therapy and medication:
Psychotherapy encourages the exploration of the trauma in a safe and supportive, nonjudgmental setting with a qualified and experienced therapist. Over time developing a narrative or an account of the trauma provides clarity, understanding and control. Often use of cognitive behavior techniques such as meditation, focus practices, observation and acceptance are employed. Learning how to disengage from overpowering thoughts and feelings can be taught through specific exercises.
Regarding trauma and avoidant behaviors, Desensitization Therapy uses exercises and talk therapy to set up a series of achievable goals and helps you to reach them over time.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Processing (EMDR)
This therapy helps you make sense of the trauma by recalling the trauma while focusing on external motions or sounds and physical sensations. Thoughts and memories are explored in detail during this process.
Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft and Effexor are some medications used to address trauma. The general goals of all these treatment approaches include the decrease or elimination of symptoms of trauma, the learning and use of concrete skills and strategies to deal with trauma and the improvement of self-esteem, confidence and focus in social and occupational settings.