When an individual experiences a traumatic event, such as sexual assault, a car accident, or witnessing severe violence, they may suffer from lingering trauma afterward that lasts for months or even years. One specific disorder trauma victims often face is known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Treatment Methods for Trauma and PTSD
There are a few ways mental health professionals help individuals suffering from PTSD. These include:
- Prolonged exposure therapy. With prolonged exposure therapy, the patient learns breathing techniques to ease his or her anxiety about the traumatic event while recounting it. Slowly, he or she faces the things that remind him or her of the traumatic event one by one. Prolonged exposure therapy can include the patient recording him- or herself recounting the traumatic event and listening to it later;
- Stress inoculation training. A type of cognitive-behavioral therapy, stress inoculation training is the process of learning how to soothe oneself in stressful situations to stop intrusive thoughts. This can include breathing techniques and massage;
- Cognitive processing therapy. With this type of therapy, the patient meets with his or her counselor regularly to talk about the traumatic event and explore how he or she remembers and relates to the event. The goal of this type of therapy is to learn new ways to live with the trauma; and
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). With EMDR, the patient concentrates on his or her trauma while watching the therapist perform a neutral action, like flashing a light. This helps to create neutral and positive associations while the patient recounts their trauma.
Some PTSD sufferers also use medication as part of their treatment plans. This must be prescribed by a physician.
PTSD must be diagnosed by a psychiatrist. Approximately 7.8 percent of Americans experience PTSD at some point in their lives, with women suffering from PTSD at double the rate that men face it.
PTSD is not the only way trauma victims suffer. Victims can also suffer anxiety and depression because of the trauma they’ve endured, which puts them at risk of developing substance addictions and reduced quality of life. Other trauma symptoms include:
- Anger, denial, and emotional outbursts;
- Poor concentration;
- Fatigue; and
- Panic attacks.