PTSD and Trauma Therapy “We remember trauma less in words and more with our feelings and our bodies.” – Bessel Vander Kolk, M.D. “I think there is no getting over real trauma… generally there is profound hope…as someone is beginning to bear the unbearable and say the unsayable.” – George Atwood, PhD. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a diagnosis that includes depression and anxiety because trauma threatens our emotional world and often our very existence. There is our life before the trauma and then there is our life after the trauma. Nothing feels the same. Trauma is a cruel teacher. The threat of a reoccurrence haunts every step. If you are suffering from the effects of a trauma you might be experiencing flashbacks of the event, a heightened startle reflex, sleeplessness, panic attacks and rapid mood swings. All of these symptoms are related to loss; loss of our sense of control, safety, connection and trust with yourself and others. It can plunge you into a world without hope. Therapy can help. It is crucial to verbalize your trauma and have your feelings recognized by someone else. Sharing your experience with a trained professional can relieve you of the loneliness of exile that trauma can bring. Do You Have PTSD? The diagnostic criteria for PTSD is as follows: A person has been exposed t a traumatic event (witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others. The traumatic event is persistently re-experienced. Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and numbing of general responsiveness. Persistent symptoms of increased arousal. The disturbances noted above causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. PTSD has two phases. The first phase is the actual devastating experience itself. The second phase of PTSD is the attempts to restore and reconnect with others. When our coordinated interactions with others are orderly, we develop a sense that our going on being is a safe bet. If our interactions with others result in a disconnection, often a person feels lost and that their experience leaves them alienated from the people they love and who love them. Do not wait to seek treatment for your symptoms. There is relief possible.