Trauma disorders are mental health conditions that originate from being exposed to a traumatic or highly stressful event. Examples of traumatic events include such things as physical or sexual abuse, neglect, the sudden loss of a loved one, a severe auto accident, a natural disaster, or witnessing violence or military combat. While these types of traumas are very upsetting and even life-altering, most people will not suffer from them for a prolonged period of time. After a certain amount of emotional processing of the event or loss, the symptoms of distress will begin to subside.
For others, the effects of the trauma remain a daily struggle and can cause serious impairment in functioning. In some cases, the individual is suffering so much that they may develop a substance use disorder in an attempt to manage the psychological distress. Trauma disorders can cause disruption in work, relationships, and family relations. In addition, those with trauma disorders also may struggle with features of anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or dissociative disorder. Trauma disorders can be treated effectively through the use of therapy, lifestyle changes, social support, and sometimes medication can help as well.
Types of Trauma Disorders
There are different ways that a traumatic event can manifest itself in disordered thought and behavior patterns. FmenFor this reason, there are three types of trauma disorders identified:
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD features a long-term and persistent response to having experienced or witnessed an overwhelmingly traumatic event. Debilitating PTSD symptoms may last for a month or more and is characterized by recurring nightmares, flashbacks, and memories of the event, insomnia, emotional numbness, avoidance of situations, people, or places that might trigger painful reminders and emotions, jumpy or easily startled, and withdraw from friends and family, and feelings of guilt. There is a high occurrence of a co-existing substance use disorder among individuals with PTSD, as well as depressive symptoms that accompany the disorder.
Acute Stress Disorder (ASD)
ASD aligns with the same type of causal events that are featured in PTSD, a significant traumatic event that one was exposed to either directly or indirectly, and with the same types of symptoms, but with the distressing symptoms lasting less than one month.
Adjustment disorder is characterized by an inability to cope with or adjust to a significant life event. A single highly stressful event or a series of stressful events may cause so much emotional distress that it becomes difficult to function normally in daily life. Symptoms may include feelings of being overwhelmed, neglecting responsibilities, loss of appetite, excess worry, insomnia, and isolation from friends and family. Adjustment disorders may last up to six months in duration.
What Are the Signs of PTSD?
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can manifest in various ways, and the signs and symptoms may differ from person to person. However, some common signs of PTSD include:
- Intrusive Memories: Individuals may experience distressing and intrusive memories of the traumatic event. These memories can manifest as flashbacks, nightmares, or vivid recollections of traumatic events that disrupt daily life.
- Avoidance: People with PTSD may actively avoid reminders of the traumatic event, such as places, people, activities, or conversations that trigger distressing memories. They may also avoid discussing or thinking about the event altogether.
- Negative Changes in Thinking and Mood: PTSD can lead to pervasive negative thoughts and emotions, including persistent feelings of fear, guilt, shame, or anger. Individuals may have difficulty experiencing positive emotions, feel emotionally numb, or have a diminished interest in activities they once enjoyed. They may also struggle with feelings of detachment from others or alienation.
- Hyperarousal: Individuals with PTSD may experience heightened levels of arousal or reactivity, making them easily startled, irritable, or prone to outbursts of anger. They may have difficulty concentrating, experience hypervigilance, and have trouble sleeping or maintaining a sense of calm.
- Changes in Behavior: PTSD can lead to significant changes in behavior, such as engaging in risky or self-destructive behaviors, avoiding social interactions, or withdrawing from loved ones. Individuals may also experience difficulties with interpersonal relationships, including trust issues, intimacy problems, or difficulty expressing emotions.
- Physical Symptoms: PTSD can manifest in physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, muscle tension, or other unexplained pains or discomforts.
It’s important to note that the onset of PTSD symptoms may occur shortly after the traumatic event, or they may develop months or even years later. Additionally, not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will develop PTSD, and the severity and duration of symptoms can vary widely among individuals. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of PTSD, it’s essential to seek professional help from a mental health center trained in trauma treatment. Effective treatments are available, and early intervention can significantly improve outcomes for individuals with PTSD.
How Are Trauma Disorders Treated?
Treatment for a trauma disorder is multi-pronged. Together, these interventions can significantly improve the individual’s ability to resume normal daily functioning. These treatment elements include:
- Psychotherapy: Meeting one-on-one with a therapist to discuss the traumatic events or stressors while expressing the emotional impact of the trauma can help the individual begin to process the painful event. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps to bring about perspective and relieves much of the resultant distorted thinking surrounding the event.
- Group therapy: Meeting as a small group with trauma disorder as a common denominator can facilitate productive peer interaction that allows each person to share their stories and gain support from the group.
- Exposure therapy: The therapist will gently expose the client to situations that they have been avoiding or use a fantasy situation to help the client relive the trauma in a safe and supportive setting.
- Eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR is another type of exposure therapy that involves the client following a therapist’s finger back and forth with their eyes while discussing the traumatic event.
- Medication: Antidepressants have been found to help mitigate the psychological effects for some clients with trauma disorder.
Los Angeles Trauma Disorder Treatment at Elevation Behavioral Health
Elevation Behavioral Health offers comprehensive and compassionate trauma disorder treatment in Los Angeles. We understand the profound impact that trauma can have on individuals’ lives, and we are committed to providing personalized care that addresses the unique needs of each person we serve. Our multidisciplinary team of experienced clinicians utilizes evidence-based therapies, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and other trauma-focused interventions, to help individuals heal from their traumatic experiences and reclaim their lives. With a supportive and nurturing environment, we empower our clients to confront their past, develop healthy coping mechanisms, and build resilience for the future. If you or a loved one are struggling with the effects of trauma, we are here to help. Reach out to Elevation Behavioral Health today to take the first step towards healing and recovery.