What is trauma?
Trauma can take different forms. Just because you’ve experienced a traumatic event, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This depends on a number of factors, including the meaning that was ascribed to the event at the time.
Single-Event Trauma is the most common type of PTSD. This involves symptoms of PTSD such as flashbacks, nightmares, feeling in a constant state of high-alert, and avoidance of reminders that are attributed to one specific event, such as a car crash or sexual assault.
Complex Trauma or Complex-PTSD however, can have wider reaching effects. Complex Trauma is most commonly caused by repeated abuse in early life, or can be the result of long periods of distress such as what might occur within domestically violent relationships, ongoing relationships with abusers, or experiencing kidnap and torture.
Complex Trauma can have many similar effects as Single-Event PTSD. However, alongside these symptoms there can also be feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, a strong mistrust of others or difficulty feeling close to others, as well as suicidal feelings.
What support is available?
The recommended treatment for both PTSD and Complex-PTSD are Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR).
However, before beginning these treatments it may be helpful to work on ‘stabilisation’ which is learning how to regulate your emotions and ground yourself in the present moment to reduce the impact of the trauma on your daily life. This is aimed at helping you to create some stability in your life and relationships, to act as a ‘safe zone’ whilst you process your difficult memories.
It is recognised that when we experienced traumatic events, we can retreat into ourselves and lock ourselves away for safety. Whilst this can be a good thing, it can also mean that we lose parts of ourselves that we don’t feel strong enough to express. Part of the road to recovering from trauma is reclaiming your life and beginning to gradually reintroduce things back into your life that will give you a sense of meaning and purpose.
Sometimes people may be struggling to manage their symptoms of trauma and turn to risky behaviour such as self-harm, unprotected sex and substance misuse for help regulating emotions. Whilst these may help in the short-term, they are rarely a long-term solution. Sometimes people may also struggle with suicidal feelings, and we can help you to plan for all of these difficult times and find other ways of managing your emotions to ensure your safety.
We are also building a collection of self-help resources for managing your symptoms of trauma. These can be helpful aids for understanding your symptoms, managing any flashbacks or intrusive memories, and preparing you for beginning your therapy with us.