Anxiety and depression are strongly correlated to experiencing trauma. Each person experiences things differently. What may be traumatic for me may not be a big deal to you. We each have a different set of coping skills that we have learned through each experience. When one is effected by trauma, anxiety is a normal response. When this anxiety continues over long periods of time, you are triggered frequently by situations similar to the traumatic event, have nightmares or intrusive thoughts during waking hours and your symptoms significantly impact your functioning Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can be diagnosed.

 PTSD is probably best known as a result of war, soldiers returning from combat, having nightmares, trouble sleeping, appetite changes, excessive worry, trouble relating to others, and irritability. We now know that it is the perception of the event that makes one more vulnerable to developing PTSD. Divorce, separation from a parent, witnessing an accident, being abused, any situation where you felt your life was threatened classifies as an event that meets critieria for PTSD.

 When you feel threatened, anxiety spikes and your survival response (ready to fight, run or hide) is triggered. This alarm system is necessary for survival but when it over-fires frequently and we have trouble telling whether we are really in danger or not its hard to get that alarm system under control. You may feel on edge all the time or have a feeling of dread but can’t figure out why. Negative thoughts like “I’m never going to feel normal”, “Why can’t I get over this”, ” It was my fault” can make depressive symptoms worse and continue a cycle if feeling stuck.

 Therapies that have been shown to support healing from trauma include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Seeking Safety curriculums. I use all these modalities to support you to better understand your experience and how to move forward and take control of your life. EMDR is another technique that has been effective and we have many qualified clinicians in the area who are available with this additional technique that helps you to separate your emotional response from the memories of the experience.

 It is not always necessary to discuss particular details of trauma in order to obtain the benefits of reduced anxiety and depression. Please don’t let the fear of talking about incidents hold you back from treatment. We talk about experiences as you are ready and always close sessions with skills to contain those memories and calm your emotions so that you are able to return to your life, obligations and activities until we meet again.

Leaving the past behind you is possible if you are willing to stop reading that last chapter and begin writing the next. I’m here when you’re ready.

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