Trauma & Its Treatment
The longer we live, the more inevitable it is that we will experience trauma. Trauma is the response to a deeply distressing or disturbing event that overwhelms an individual’s ability to cope, causes feelings of helplessness, diminishes their sense of self and their ability to feel the full range of emotions and experiences.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), trauma is “an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape, or natural disaster.”
Not everyone who experiences a stressful event will develop trauma. There are also various types of trauma. Some people will develop symptoms that resolve after a few weeks, while others will have more long-term effects
With treatment, people can address the root cause of the trauma and find constructive ways to manage their symptoms.
However, a person may experience trauma as a response to any event they find physically or emotionally threatening or harmful.
A traumatized person can feel a range of emotions both immediately after the event and in the long term. They may feel overwhelmed, helpless, shocked, or have difficulty processing their experiences. Trauma can also cause physical symptoms.
Trauma can have long-term effects on the person’s well-being. If symptoms persist and do not decrease in severity, it can indicate that the trauma has developed into a mental health disorder called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The symptoms of trauma range from mild to severe. Many factors determine how a traumatic event affects a person, including:
- their characteristics
- the presence of other mental health conditions
- previous exposure to traumatic events
- the type and characteristics of the event or events
- their background and approach to handling emotions
Therapies for Trauma
There is no cure for trauma nor any quick fixes for the suffering associated with them. But there is hope. A wide range of effective therapies exists and access to them is widespread. Trauma survivors are best served by working with a therapist or therapy that is trauma-focused or trauma-informed. Most trauma-informed therapists will employ a combination of therapy modalities.
Psychotherapy alternatives include exposure therapies to help with desensitization,Cognitive Behavioral Therapy which helps change thought and behaviour patterns and reprocessing therapies like Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) that allow the survivorto reprocess memories and events. Somatic therapies that use the body to process trauma include Somatic Experiencing and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy.
Hypnosis, mindfulness, craniosacral therapy, trauma-sensitive yoga, art therapy and acupuncture can all also help. And last, many people use medications – primarily antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications – which can make symptoms less intense and more manageable.