Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is most commonly understood as a disorder that some people develop after witnessing or experiencing a life-threatening event such as combat, a natural disaster, an accident, or assault. These events are what many people think of when they hear about PTSD. However, other things can give rise to PTSD such as an emotionally abusive parent, bullying, birth traumas, medical traumas, abusive relationships especially with a narcissist, and abandonment. We still don't understand why some people develop PTSD and some don't. However, we now know that the effects of trauma are cumulative. For example, if a person has an abusive upbringing and goes into combat they may be more likely to develop PTSD than someone who had a safe, secure upbringing.
Common Symptoms of PTSD:
- Nightmares and Insomnia
- Substance use/abuse
- Flashbacks or reliving the experience
- Loss of memory
- Inability to concentrate
- Detachment from others
- Loss of interest
PTSD shows up for people differently, however people commonly describe themselves as having a difficult time feeling emotions. They say they often feel like an "empty shell" or a "zombie" as they go through the motions of their life. Maintaining relationships can be difficult and feeling emotionally and physically safe with others is also a challenge. It is important for us to work slowly when we are facing PTSD because working through the distressing event can be overwhelming. Some clients who enter therapy have never spoken of their trauma and it has been "trapped" inside of them for years. Beginning to open up about what has happened requires a deep trust and safety. I consider this work sacred and am honored to hold space for healing to occur.
When the client is ready I will often suggest EMDR therapy to address trauma. EMDR is a special approach to dealing with unresolved issues and can effectively and efficiently provide resolution. Visit my EMDR page to learn more about this approach.