Myth number one: that PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) is a military disorder and few people outside combat zones experience trauma. This is a myth. More and more research is finding that trauma affects people of all ages and in all walks of life.
Myth number two: children do not suffer from trauma because they are tough and adjust easily to tragedy and trauma. This is not true. Studies have found that trauma experienced and suppressed by children can significantly increase the risk of life-threatening illness later in life.
Myth number three: being diagnosed as suffering from trauma is similar to being diagnosed with an incurable disease. This need not be so. Although, generally speaking, someone who has been diagnosed as suffering from trauma/PTSD who takes no action towards recovery is less likely to fully recover than someone else experiencing similar symptoms who seeks appropriate support and guidance.
Trauma is caused by a sudden unexpected deep shock, whether:
- Attack by “the enemy” on the front lines in war, on a city street or in the home;
- Due to mass evacuation because of flood or fire resulting in loss of home;
- Receiving devastating news;
- Witnessing or being involved in a car crash or school shooting.
Science reveals that trauma impacts the brain, memory is affected and neurological disturbances occur, including flash backs. Often panic attacks surface, people withdraw from normal life and the spiral can continue downwards, to the murky world of alcohol or drug addiction, in an effort to numb mental and emotional pain.
When clients come for help in handling current stress, I always ask them what the lowest of low points were in their lives, to be sure that their present day stress is not rooted in distant trauma. Many times, they only remember their darkest experiences once they have begun to feel in control of their lives, their stress levels and overall wellbeing. Beth wanted help studying for her final exams. Later she returned for help with an issue that had been hidden from memory – childhood sexual abuse by a family member.
Our brain wisely shields us from memories that we can’t handle. Strange reactions, such as bursts of anger or tears, may be a clue that there is something buried deep that requires healing.
There are three types of trauma: acute trauma resulting from a single incident; chronic trauma from repeated incidents such as domestic violence or abuse; and complex trauma which can involve varied and multiple forms of trauma.
On an optimistic note, although statistics show that 61 percent of men and 51 percent of women experience trauma in their lifetime, not everyone is damaged for life. Some are seriously harmed; some naturally recover; and others are helped on their healing journey with professional support and guidance.
If you are one of the 61 or 51 percent, I wish you speedy healing. With love,