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Trauma and PTSD Counselling

Trauma can cause excruciating emotional pain. You don’t have to suffer in silence, we can help you.

Experiencing or witnessing trauma can be a life-changing experience. The difficulties in coping and adjusting after a traumatic experience may eventually subside for some people. However, in others, years may go by with no relief.  

 

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder that occurs in response to a traumatic experience. The symptoms of PTSD can severely impact everyday functioning, even long after the traumatic event occurred. 

 

Many people live with their symptoms of PTSD for years before seeking help. If you were exposed to trauma or think you might have PTSD, book a consultation with one of our mental health specialists who can help you better manage and overcome this condition. 

 

What Does PTSD Feel Like?

PTSD can occur immediately after the traumatic event or may happen years later. People with PTSD feel a heightened sense of danger as if their fight-or-flight reaction no longer has an off switch. 

 

Symptoms of PTSD can vary depending on the person. The most commonly experienced symptoms are categorized into four types: Intrusion symptoms, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. 

 

Intrusion Symptoms

  • Nightmares about the event

  • Flashbacks that feel like re-living the trauma

  • Unwanted and upsetting memories

  • Physical reactivity and emotional distress when reminded of the event

  • In children, they may re-enact the trauma through play

 

Avoidance

  • Avoiding people, places, situations, or thoughts that remind you of the trauma

 

Negative changes in thinking and mood

  • Inability to recall key details of the trauma

  • Overly negative thoughts and assumptions about the world or oneself

  • Feeling down or depressed

  • Decreased interest in activities 

  • Feeling numb

  • Difficulty responding to positive events

  • Feeling isolated

 

Changes in physical and emotional reactions

  • Irritability or aggression

  • Risky or destructive behaviour

  • Exaggerated startle response

  • Hypervigilance and feeling on edge

  • Difficulty focusing

  • Problems sleeping

 

Symptoms generally last longer than a month and significantly impair functioning at work, home, or in relationships. Some people may also experience dissociative symptoms. These symptoms include feeling detached from oneself, as if life is not really happening to them, or feeling derealization (things don’t feel real). 

Will PTSD Go Away if I Don’t Seek Help?

PTSD is very complicated and sometimes symptoms will come and go. Certain triggers can cause a relapse of PTSD after a period of feeling better. Without treatment, it is possible to have symptoms of PTSD for years or even the rest of your life. Finding effective support to navigate the clinical symptoms of PTSD is a necessary step to improve your quality of life.

I Experienced a Traumatic Event- Should I Seek Therapy?

Seeking therapy to help you deal with a traumatic event can help prevent PTSD. After experiencing or witnessing trauma, it is common to struggle with fear, anxiety, and sadness. 

It is impossible to predict if someone will develop PTSD but seeking help from a therapist can help you minimize or even eliminate these symptoms. Therapy creates a safe space to deal with any lingering “threat” that may cause symptoms and allows you to work through it. This process is difficult but brings about healing and a sense of control.

 

What Causes PTSD? 

PTSD is caused by being exposed to trauma. Exposure may include experiencing, witnessing, or learning about a traumatic experience. 

 

Common traumatic events that may cause PTSD include:

 

  • Military combat

  • Sexual or physical assault

  • Mugging

  • Living in war-torn regions

  • Divorce

  • Abuse or neglect

  • Natural disasters

  • Automobile or motorcycle accidents

  • Severe injury

  • Trauma during childbirth

  • Terrorism

  • Losing someone

  • Life-threatening diagnosis

  • Violence or death

  • Secondary trauma (supporting someone going through trauma)

 

Other risk factors for PTSD include:

 

  • Personal History: Having a previous history of trauma or mental health disorders like panic disorder, depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can make you more susceptible to PTSD. 

 

  • Biochemical Factors: Brain scans of people with PTSD show that they have changes associated with areas responsible for memory and learning. PTSD also leads to an altered stress response and dysfunction in areas of the brain associated with fear and emotional regulation. 

 

  • Occupation: Certain jobs inherently involve more exposure to traumatic events such as paramedics, military, police, and many health care workers. 

 

  • Environmental Factors: Characteristics of your environment may increase your risk of PTSD or make symptoms worse. Some environmental risks include difficult relationships, poor support system, instability, and daily stress. 

 

Anyone can develop PTSD. If you have been exposed to a traumatic event, seeking therapy can help you learn effective coping mechanisms that lead to a path of healing. 

How is PTSD Treated?

PTSD can be treated with counselling, medications, or both. There are also lifestyle changes that can be made to support your recovery. 

Counselling & Therapy for Trauma and PTSD

Therapy is one of the most effective treatments for building long-lasting strategies to help you cope with the symptoms of PTSD. It can be difficult to diagnose PTSD since it is often masked by other symptoms and people can go asymptomatic for long periods of time.

 

A traumatic experience is often the root of distress in people with issues like depression and substance abuse. Your therapist can help you work through your trauma in a safe environment. This work helps take the reigns away from trauma, so that it no longer lingers as an unconscious force with control over your thoughts and feelings. Trauma therapy is a vital step in feeling whole again after surviving a traumatic experience. 

 

Even with therapy, trauma may linger for a long time. Your therapist will teach you techniques for dealing with difficult thoughts and reducing anxiety to help you deal with any symptoms. Treatments you learn in therapy such as emotional freedom technique (EFT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and desensitization can reduce the emotional impact of symptoms. 

 

Techniques from therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are very effective for the treatment of PTSD. CBT can be especially helpful for reducing anxious thoughts, feelings of depression, and rumination. 

 

Trauma can make it difficult to trust the world around you. Working with a therapist is the best way to learn how to manage difficult thoughts, heal traumatic wounds, and regain the feeling that you are whole and safe. 

 

Counselling for PTSD in Vaughan, Woodbridge & Greater Toronto Area

 

We are the largest counselling service provider in the Vaughan and Woodbridge area with over 15 years of experience helping people work through trauma. If you have experienced trauma, our team of therapists specializes in helping clients identify the roots of their struggles and learn effective tools for overcoming them. 


Reach out today to book a session with one of our therapists and let a trained professional help you navigate your symptoms and find ways to improve your life.

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© Life in Harmony at Vaughan Counselling Center 2020