The term “trauma” is often talked about in today’s society and regularly used to refer to situations where someone has encountered a violent, abusive, dangerous, scary, or threatening situation. Such events can include physical abuse, sexual abuse, car accidents, death of a loved one, witnessing violence, encountering a crime, serious injuries, neglect, etc. Estimates vary, but research often suggests that up to, or even more than half, of children report encountering a traumatic event (or an “Adverse Childhood Experience”) sometime before becoming an adult, with even more adults encountering additional trauma later in life. Thus, experiencing a traumatic event is not necessarily an unusual occurrence. Often people that encounter trauma experience some distress following such events, as would be expected as such incidents are terrifying, extremely upsetting, and problematic.
A portion of those individuals that confront such events in their lives can go on to develop symptoms that persist, continue to hinder their engagement in life tasks, and may show changes in their behaviors. This is typically referred to as “posttraumatic stress” and can result in a diagnosis of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. This condition can be very debilitating, frustrating, and overwhelming. Symptoms can often include intrusive thoughts about the traumatic event, nightmares, flashbacks, increased anxiety when confronted by reminders of the event, avoidance of internal thoughts or external experiences that may remind the individual of the event, negative expectations about self and the world, loss of interest in activities, a sense of detachment from others, irritability, increased feelings of guilt or shame, hypervigilance, concentration problems, and sleeping difficulties, just to name a few.
The good news is there is a number of research-based treatment programs for both children, adolescents, and adults that can assist individuals in reducing negative impacts from such situations in their lives and have a significant amount of research demonstrating their effectiveness. Such treatment often provides individuals with knowledge about their symptoms, assist in reducing anxiety responses, and aid individuals in reclaiming their lives and re-engaging in activities that perhaps they moved away from; typically within 9 to 12 sessions. Utah Family Institute has a number of specially trained treatment providers that can offer such treatment and would love the opportunity to assist you, or someone you care about, in overcoming such experiences.