Psychological trauma is a type of damage to the psyche that occurs as a result of a traumatic event. When that trauma leads to posttraumatic stress disorder, damage may involve physical changes inside the brain and to brain chemistry, which damage the person's ability to adequately cope with stress.
A traumatic event involves a single experience, or an enduring or repeating event or events, that completely overwhelm the individual's ability to cope or integrate the ideas and emotions involved with that experience. The sense of being overwhelmed can be delayed by weeks, years or even decades, as the person struggles to cope with the immediate circumstances. Psychological trauma can lead to serious long-term negative consequences that are often overlooked even by mental health professionals.
Psychological trauma may accompany physical trauma or exist independently of it. Typical causes and dangers of psychological trauma are sexual abuse, bullying, domestic violence, the victim of alcoholism, the threat of either, or the witnessing of either, particularly in childhood. Catastrophic events such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, war or other mass violence can also cause psychological trauma. Long-term exposure to situations such as extreme poverty or milder forms of abuse, such as verbal abuse, can be traumatic (though verbal abuse can also potentially be traumatic as a single event).
However, different people will react differently to similar events. One person may experience an event as traumatic while another person would not suffer trauma as a result of the same event. In other words, not all people who experience a potentially traumatic event will actually become psychologically traumatized.
PTSD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Posttraumatic stress disorder (also known as post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD) is a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to any event that results in psychological trauma. This event may involve the threat of death to oneself or to someone else, or to one's own or someone else's physical, sexual, or psychological integrity, overwhelming the individual's ability to cope. As an effect of psychological trauma, PTSD is less frequent and more enduring than the more commonly seen acute stress response.
Diagnostic symptoms for PTSD include re-experiencing the original trauma(s) through flashbacks or nightmares, avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma, and increased arousal – such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, anger, and hypervigilance. Formal diagnostic criteria (both DSM-IV-TR and ICD-9) require that the symptoms last more than one month and cause significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.(1)Domestic Violence and Crime VictimsIf you or someone you know have been a victim of a crime, please give us a call. We will schedule your intake session and assist you in completing your crime victims compensation application for services.
PTSD and Veterans
Regardless of which war or conflict you look at, high rates of PTSD in veterans have been found. Throughout history, people have recognized that exposure to combat situations can negatively impact the mental health of those involved in these situations. In fact, the diagnosis of PTSD historically originates from observations of the effect of combat on soldiers. The grouping of symptoms that we now refer to as PTSD has been described in the past as "combat fatigue," "shell shock," or "war neurosis."
If you are a veteran, the National Center for PTSD provides some excellent information on coping with the effects of war. If you are returning from Iraq, information about VA Transition Centers and additional resources are also provided. And, if you are a family member of a veteran, important information is also available pertaining to living with and caring for someone with PTSD. Reference: http://ptsd.about.com/od/prevalence/a/MilitaryPTSD.htm
Services for Trauma and PTSD
Dawning of a New Day Counseling specializes in the treatment of Trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Approximately 7.7 million American adults age 18 and older, or about 3.5 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have PTSD.(2) Each year in the U.S.over 5 million children experience some form of traumatic event. Trauma can have a profound effect on the emotional, behavioral, cognitive, social, and physical development of children. In many cases, this trauma results in a possibility of lifelong mental and physical health problems resulting in costs to the child, their family, community, and society.
If you or someone you know has experienced a traumatic event, do not hesitiate to call us immediately to discuss options for treatment. The therapists at Dawning of a New Day Counseling have experience working with adults struggling with traumatic events.