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Trauma & PTSD

Common Trauma Sources
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Treatment of Trauma & PTSD
Childhood Trauma
Working Through Childhood Memories
Trauma coming out in Adult Years
Healing Childhood Abuse & Neglect

Common Trauma Sources
Trauma can occur through experiencing or witnessing any of the following:

1. War, military combat
2. Accidents
3. An undesired sexual act
4. Childhood abuse
5. Spiritual abuse
6. Bullying

7. Serious physical injury
8. Childhood Neglect
9. Torture
10. Violent or domestic assaults
11. Kidnapping, being taken hostage
12. Serious threats to one's well-being

It is best to invervene as soon as possible following trauma to help resolve the distressing experience. Therapy can help relieve traumatic distress. If symptoms persist following the trauma, then PTSD may develop.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder? The DSM-IV describes PTSD as the development of characteristic symptoms following exposure to an extreme traumatic stressor involving direct personal experience of an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury, or other threat to one’s physical integrity; or witnessing such an event. The person’s response to the event involves intense fear, helplessness, or horror (or in children, the response must involve disorganized or agitated behaviour).
How common is PTSD?
There is a lifetime prevalence of about 8% for the American adult population.

What are PTSD symptoms? Symptoms of PTSD may include a combination of the following: flashbacks, nightmares, avoidance of triggers, difficulty sleeping, irritability, disorganized thinking, agitation, numbness, emotional/physical freezing and hypervigilance. PTSD causes significant impairment in personal, marital, social or occupational functioning. Feelings associated with PTSD can be ones of: ineffectiveness, shame, despair, hopelessness, hostility, socially withdrawing, identity confusion, inability to take action, feeling permanently damaged, constantly threatened, stuck in patterns or depressed.

Treatment of Trauma & PTSD, Calgary
The sooner one gets treatment for trauma the better. Trauma and PTSD can be treated with therapeutic interventions that help to diminish the recurrence of ongoing symptoms and assist the client in replacing them with more helpful emotions such as peacefulness and physical calm. Duration of therapy may be shorter-term or longer term depending upon the type of trauma experienced, the age of the client at the time of the trauma experience, the frequency/duration of the trauma and the current resources of the client. Feel free to call us at 403-220-1101. We’d love to talk with you about how we can help.

Childhood Trauma

Trauma can often occur during our younger formative years and if not resolved will develop into PTSD. Children may not have the same sense of reliving the past as adults. Instead, they may exhibit various physical symptoms such as stomach-aches or headaches. Childhood trauma may be experienced with any of the following or a combination thereof:

  1. Physical Trauma: experiencing a frightening event and having or perceiving to have bodily harm ; unloving discipline or correction ; lack of meaningful, healthy touch when needed ; isolation ; being hit or beaten or threatened to be harmed or witnessing it.
  2. Emotional Trauma: verbal abuse (i.e: rage, venting, lecturing, insults, feeling disliked, mistreated in peer groups) ; punished for being seen as too immature ; loss of someone or something close ; not being heard ; feeling invisible or unseen ; not permitted free expression of anger, sadness, joy; stifled
  3. Psychological Trauma: being degraded ; made to feel beliefs such as “you’re stupid, not good enough, ugly, weird, unmanly, not ... enough, never amount to anything, unlovable, bad” ; shaming ; having mind-games played ; neglected ; excessively teased ; censored ; bullied
  4. Sexual Trauma: inappropriate sexual exposure (hearing, seeing, touching) ; can involve penetration, but may not ; seeing or hearing sexual explicit actions ; being exposed to sexual images ; having someone talk to you about sexual content that is not age appropriate ; fondling ; molesting ; grooming ; voyeurism See: Abuse Survivors Come Forward
  5. Spiritual: the use of spiritual beliefs to control or gain compliance without being allowed to freely question ; being made to feel bad, sinful or unloved in a way that creates fear and terror as well as force compliance without understanding or free will on the part of the child ; being severely punished for spiritual reasons.
Working through Memories of Childhood Trauma

Working Through Childhood Memories

Childhood memories can be both positive and negative. The positive memories help to form a child’s sense of wellbeing of being wanted, loved and capable. With each new positive experience the child grows in his/her feeling of worthiness as a person and as a result feels confident in how they carry themselves right into adulthood.

We all experience negative memories and from them we can grow by learning from mistakes so that we improve our skills and abilities. However, some negative memories can be harmful. They can remain with a person right into adulthood where they continue to negatively affect how a person interacts with the world. This is especially true for memories that had a strong negative emotional impact, or for ones that may seem small within themselves but when repeated over and over they became so ingrained they cause a person to view the world through that negative filter. This can lead to low self-esteem, anxiety, frustrations, depressions, addictions as well as a feeling of being incapable or inversely toward a tendency for perfectionism.

Every child needs to know they are loved and wanted, that they are okay as they are, that it’s okay to make mistakes, that they are safe and will be protected, that it’s okay for them to have needs and express them.

To the right is a video of an adult who expresses her deepest feelings of having experienced childhood abuse.

Trauma coming out in Adult Years

Children and teens will often experience dissociation that helps them cope until they are more ready to resolve the trauma later on in life. Many adults who experienced traumatic events as children may still believe that they ought to “be over it by now” since they are now adult but continue to have PTSD symptoms. This can lead to feeling angry or impatient toward oneself which generally results in self-harm through addictive behaviours. Further, sometimes apparently dormant PTSD symptoms may resurface in adulthood. This often happens at a time when one is living a much safer existence and where the trauma is now more ready to heal than it had been prior, hence it is coming up more. Or, it happens at a time when current, disturbing life situations retrigger the past (i.e.: abusive or neglectful relationship, death, illness, loss, fear, a new trauma).

Alyssa Lies

Healing Childhood Abuse & Neglect

The first stage to healing the enduring effects of childhood abuse and neglect is to admit it happened. Regardless of the severity, abuse and neglect affect a child’s internal sense of wellbeing. As a result, we may struggle with believing that we are defective, damaged goods, ugly, unworthy, unlovable or undeserving. We may struggle in our relationships and experience distrust, anger, fear, worry or numbing through the avoidance of feeling altogether. Many survivors of abuse know how to put on a mask and make it look like they are normal, but it feels like play-acting where we feel like a fraud all the while longing to not have to work so hard at making life work.

The creators of the video to the right have portrayed how we lie to not face the truth of abuse and its effects.

Trauma Recovery & Therapy, Calgary

Disclaimer: The information presented in this site is only for informational purposes and is not intended to replace personalized professional guidance. Individuals should always see competent professionals, such as a medical doctor, when they have concerns about their own mental/physical health and behaviour, or that of others. The reader assumes full responsibility for his/her own actions in regards to any material contained in this site, on any links, in any downloads, and in any recommended reading materials.
© Copyright 2003 Michael K. Haggstrom. All Rights Reserved.
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