Trauma. Sometimes even hearing that word can make all of us cringe.

Trauma is the emotional response to an event or experience occurring that was tragic and life-altering, such as a tornado, war, or a rape. You are said to be “traumatized.”  We all have unique responses to it. And ways to combat the fear, even terror, it can create.

Nightmares and flashbacks, part of what’s termed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, can often begin to happen and challenge those protective reactions. These can disrupt your life so much that you have to turn back time and look at what happened. Below is a link to what are other symptoms of PTSD, but for now, know that they involve emotional reactivity to any triggers similar (or the same) as the initial trauma, such as severe storms if the trauma was a tornado, or hearing a creaking noise in your house — if you were raped by someone who broke in your home. You can want to avoid anything having to do with what happened as well. You can struggle with a spectrum of emotional reactions, from shutting down completely to being highly agitated and angry.

Basically, to heal, people with trauma need to talk. They need to describe what happened to them. They need to connect what they remember with what they felt then, and now. But we’ll go into the more specific techniques used to heal.

The listener email for today is from a teenager who is struggling with self-harm but doesn’t want to hurt her parents by telling them about her problems.

Important links:

Symptoms of PTSD

The difference between Big T and Little t trauma

Commonly cited treatments for PTSD

Complex PTSD

You can hear more about anxiety and many other topics by listening to Dr. Margaret’s new podcast, SelfWork with Dr. Margaret Rutherford. Subscribe to this website and receive her weekly blog posts and podcasts!

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