Trauma and PTSD
In recent years, there has been growing awareness of the fact that people who are exposed to events such as terrorist attacks, car accidents or sexual assaults are not only physically injured, but may be mentally hurt as well. The term “psychological trauma” describes a condition in which a person has experienced a difficult event that has wounded his psyche.
When Things Go Out of Control
The traumatic event is usually unpredictable and uncontrollable. It often shatters our sense of security and leaves us vulnerable and agitated. The event does not have to be one in which a person is directly involved in; sometimes the news of the death of someone close to us, or simply watching graphic reporting from the scene of a terror attack on TV can be traumatic.
What Is PTSD
In most cases the traumatic event will live on in our awareness for some time, but with the help of family and friends, most people will manage to process the event and return to normal functioning. However, some people will suffer from post-traumatic symptoms and go on to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The symptoms that characterize PTSD can be divided into three main categories:
1. Re-experiencing: invasive memories of the trauma (flashbacks), frequent nightmares and a continuous feeling that one is caught in the middle of the traumatic event.
2. Avoidance: Avoiding thoughts, people and activities connected to the trauma. Trauma victims may also feel alienated, and lose interest in their surroundings.
3. Hyper-arousal: Constant feeling of alertness, problems sleeping and heightened reaction to loud noises and sudden movements.
There is a Cure
Most of those exposed to a traumatic event recover after a few months, without needing professional help. The mind, like the body, knows how to overcome injuries. Some, however, may benefit from professional help. Fortunately, there are short-term effective psychological treatments available. These therapies aim to help people return to normal, pre-trauma functioning.