Post Traumatic Stress & Trauma RecoveryWe are exposed to traumatic situations in one of two ways: directly, through personally experiencing the event, or vicariously through witnessing. Witnessing occurs through the media, stories that others tell about it, and some say even through our own imagination. 

 An extreme event happens!  Our left, ‘reasoning’ Brain’s ability to think clearly, to reason, to solve problems is immediately switched “off-line” by our right brain’s action only, ‘animal instinct’ to survive.  An intensely charged nervous system and a cascade of biochemistry catapult us into making one of two choices: fight through the event, or flight from it.  The event resolved, we probably tell the story to someone and exhausted, drained, we rest: in a hospital, at a friend’s, at home, we rest...  Do you know about the third scenario? An event happens! We try to fight, we can’t! Try to flee...can’t!  And thus, the third option to fear’s “fight or flight” scenario: “freeze.”  The body paralyzes and the mind attempts 'go away' to someplace safer.  It’s instinct. It’s biological and NOT a choice. Anyone who has experienced a traumatic event may experience Post Traumatic Stress symptoms. Most will not go on to develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but those who have instinctively 'frozen' are the most likely to suffer  symptoms that could include:

      • Spontaneous sudden memories and thought of the event for no apparent reason;
      • Hyper-alertness; Hyper-vigilance or startling easily; even panic attacks;
      • Visual and/or auditory flashbacks of the event;
      • Being generally more fearful and anxious and depressed;
      • Avoiding situations that may be reminders of the event;
      • Becoming more personally and socially withdrawn or suspicious;
      • Increased physical aches and pains;
      • Increased use of Alcohol or other drugs

The onset of those symptoms can begin within a week, a month, or even years after the event!   And unless we actively do something about it, we don’t often “just get over it.”  Psychotherapy can provide a safe place to navigate through the feelings related to trauma, which may include horror, rage, depression and anxiety, fear, guilt, shame, and numbness.  We can successfully “reprocess” what happened and create a meaningful context for the trauma in a variety of ways, including Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).  In whatever way Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is addressed, it is important to know that PTSD is workable!  You can reclaim a sense of your Self, and of control and safety in the world.

For more information, I invite you to take a look at this short Video about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  And  of course, if you are in the Lansing, Michigan area, please feel free to email or call me with any questions or comments at the address below. 

Peter Roseman Psy.S.
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