At some point in our lives, everybody will experience distressing or upsetting life events - such as the loss of a loved one, adjusting to ill health, or the ending of a significant relationship. Whether these major life events are expected or unexpected, they can hugely affect our lives in many different ways.
For some individuals, directly experiencing or witnessing atraumatic life event can have a lasting impact on our lives, and can develop into Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Generally, these types of traumatic life events are unexpected, unpredictable and overwhelming. Some examples of traumatic events are physical or sexual assault, a road traffic accident, or a very difficult childbirth. The difference between traumatic life events and major life events is the emotional impact that they have - leaving individuals with a sense of fear, helplessness, and horror.
Symptoms of PTSD & Trauma
Typically, the symptoms of PTSD & trauma can be placed into four broad categories:
- Re-experiencing: Vividly reliving the traumatic event in the form of flashbacks, nightmares or intrusive memories or thoughts.
- Avoidance: Actively avoiding people, places, events and objects that can bring reminders of the event.
- On high alert: Feeling easily startled, jumpy, and always looking out for imminent danger.
- Altered mood: Changing the way you think about yourself and others. Some individuals may feel ashamed, guilty, and can find it difficult to trust other people.
Recovery from PTSD / Trauma
The first step to recovery is understanding how our brains work and how our brains process the things that happen to us (i.e. memories). Research has shown that everyday memories are processed quite differently to traumatic memories. When we experience an everyday event, the brain deals with it by labelling it and filing it away. The part of the brain responsible for this is the hippocampus. As the event wasn’t excessively stressful, we are not emotionally affected; the memory has simply been “stamped” with a time and place and is easy to recall.
In contrast to this, the brain deals differently with traumatic memories due to being under huge amounts of stress. The hippocampus gets pushed aside and the amygdala takes over, which has a sole purpose of survival. As soon as the amygdala detects danger, it wants to get you out quickly – meaning that the memory is not labelled or filed away. Instead, it is fragmented in the process, like lots of little bits of paper floating around in the brain. On occasion, the brain attempts to file these fragmented parts of memories away, but it simply doesn’t know how to do it. This leads to common PTSD symptoms, including flashbacks, nightmares, or high levels of distress.
PTSD and Trauma Counselling in Hertford
The good news is that talking therapy for PTSD and trauma has been shown to be incredibly effective for individuals who are struggling with trauma. Following successful completion of talking therapy, symptoms can either disappear completely or significantly decrease in intensity – allowing people to manage their everyday lives again.
Trauma Therapist Hertford
If you are struggling with PTSD, you don’t have to suffer alone. As a clinical psychologist and EMDR therapist, Dr Maria Tucknott provides trauma therapy in Hertford. PTSD and trauma can be successfully treated with the range of therapy approaches that she offers, within both online and face to face therapy. For more information about trauma and PTSD therapy in Hertford, enquire today to book an appointment.