By Stephen Goth
Posttraumatic stress disorder or PTSD is a mental illness that can develop after a person is exposed to one or more traumatic events, such as sexual assault, warfare, traffic collisions, terrorism or other threats on a person’s life.
Symptoms can include disturbing recurring flashbacks, avoidance or numbing of memories of the event, and hyperarousal.
These symptoms tend to disturb the everyday actions in a person’s life. Whether it be relationships, friendships, performance at school, performance in a job, or even something as simple as sleeping, nothing feels the same when you’re actively living with PTSD.
Many times, people who develop PTSD are at a young age, and are unaware of the traumatic damage their brain is enduring. PTSD can form from something as simple as a single event i.e. divorce, or even the collection of various traumatic occurrences, such as bullying.
They may have difficulty recalling certain parts of their traumatic event, or alternatively, memories may be vivid as if the person is reliving the event in the present.
People with PTSD may also have problems overcoming their fear response to thoughts, memories or situations that are reminiscent of their traumatic event. Due to the hippocampus’ role in memory and emotional experience, it is thought that some of the problems people with PTSD experience may lie in the hippocampus.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Lesley Goth who runs her own private practice outside of Denver, CO, specializes in treating clients who are diagnosed with PTSD.
She believes when trauma occurs at a young age, long-term effects show up in all social, emotional, and physical areas of their lives.
For example, trauma that is experienced at a young age, can result in poor school performance, poor social interaction, and an overall feeling of lack of safety, which can ultimately lead to low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety.
When the feeling of lack of safety grows and grows and eventually becomes so intense, the victim of trauma turns towards dysfunctional coping mechanisms. Many addictions stem from the heavy need to numb out the suffering and agony that is caused from the memories of the traumatic events.
This is an important issue in today’s society, as many people try to cope with trauma through substances, and a variety of addictions. The most recent one being social media.
“Social media is a way that people can numb out from their pain and live in a false reality that is much more tolerable,” Dr. Goth said.
In conclusion, treatment is possible, and therapy can often times repair the unprocessed wounds.
EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing, is a frequently used type of therapy used to help process unresolved issues.
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Cover Photo Credit: Beverly/ Flickr (CC BY 2.0)