In some ways it can feel like a relief to have a name for what is going on for you.
But, in other ways, being given the PTSD label may make you feel like this is something permanent.
Perhaps you worry that you can’t recover.
I’m here to tell you that there’s lots of hope.
You may feel you are going nuts, but actually your brain doing its best to cope with the overwhelming experiences that happened to you.
Good PTSD treatment can help your brain do that better, so that your life can go back to normal.
A good first step on your healing journey is to understand why you have the symptoms you have.
PTSD Symptoms Explained:
1. Re-experiencing the traumatic event through flashbacks or nightmares:
This is the way your brain has for dealing with problems: it keeps bringing them up so you can think about them, re-examine them and solve them.
That’s why you mind might be racing at night, and why it may be hard to get to sleep or stay asleep.
The problem is that that traumatic memories are too overwhelming—flashbacks and nightmares don’t help you heal.
2. Re-experiencing the trauma when triggered, feeling hyper-vigilant, and getting startled easily:
Because what happened to you was so overwhelming, your brain wants to make sure it doesn’t happen again. So, it places these trauma memories in a “red alert” file, keeping them permanently alive.
This means that your brain is all the time scanning for situations that are a little bit similar to the trauma. That can put you on hyper-alert, make you startle easily, and and may lead you to getting triggered by small things.
3. Trying to avoid reminders of the trauma:
Getting triggered and having flashbacks can be very distressing, so it makes sense that your system (body, mind, senses, and emotions) want to try to avoid any reminders of the trauma.
The trouble is that this may make your life feel constrained and stunted.
4. Feeling disconnected, listless, disinterested and numb:
Trying to keep the trauma memories bottled up takes a lot of energy.
This is the energy that you normally would have available for the people you love and the activities you care about, but now that energy is used up.
5. Feeling like you don’t have a future: It is common for people who have experienced trauma to feel like they won’t live long, won’t get married, have children, have a career.
This is your mind’s way of trying to protect you—if you don’t expect much, you won’t get as hurt again.
6. Difficulty concentrating:
Because a big part of your mind is focused on the trauma, and making sure it doesn’t happen again, it may be really hard to focus on anything else.
7. Feeling irritable or angry outbursts:
In order to survive the trauma, your brain released neuro-chemicals into your system to allow you fight, flee or freeze.
When these neuro-chemicals keep circulating in your body, you feel irritable or angry.
How PTSD Treatment Helps:
The key to effective PTSD therapy is to calm down your stress response system, so your brain and body stops acting as if the traumatic events are about happen again.
When your stress response is no longer on hyper-alert, your entire system relaxes.
The stress neuro-chemicals stop pumping through your body. Your flashbacks and nightmares stop, your irritability and anger diminish, your interest and zest for life returns, and you can envision a positive future again.
The most effective way to achieve this is to move the trauma memories from the “red alert file” to “just some bad things that happened in the past”. Good PTSD therapy can help you to do this.
That may sound scary, because the last thing you probably want to do is to re-live those memories.
Please know that there is a huge difference between the reliving your trauma in your flashbacks and nightmares, and the re-processing that occurs in skilled trauma therapy.
Experienced trauma therapists know how to pace therapy just right so you truly are not overwhelmed, but rather can approach those hurtful moments from a place of strength, courage and safety.
I invite you to look at the trauma and PTSD resources on my website. When you are ready, call me or use the pop-up box to schedule a free consult.
I look forward to hearing from you!