What is Trauma?
It is a term used to describe a phenomenon in which a mental apparatus suddenly collapses or malfunctions due to an excessively strong stimulus from inside or outside. At this time, the stimulus barrier or protective shield is broken, and the ego loses its ability to mediate. Traumatic conditions vary from person to person in the intensity or duration of the event.
The situation in which the traumatic event occur
- When you experience or witness a life-threatening or serious injury
- When you experience or witness a situation that seriously threatens the physical health of yourself or others
- When you respond with fear, helplessness
It can be seen that incidents such as war, abuse, sexual assault, natural disasters, and traffic accidents are considered traumatic events.
What is PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress)?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a particular set of reactions that can develop in people who have been through a traumatic event which threatened their life or safety, or that of others around them (Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – Beyond Blue).
What are the signs and Symptoms of PTSD?
-Re-living (re-experience) the traumatic event – People with PTSD often have dreams related to the event, memories of the trauma, or a feeling that the event is being replayed (e.g. sudden heart palpitations, uncontrollable tears or anxiety)
-Avoiding reminders of the event – Recalling the traumatic event is so painful that he/she avoids anything that is associated with the event or avoids specific people and places related to the trauma. In some cases, the avoidance is so deeply entrenched that important aspects of the event are not remembered.
– Being overeactive or anxious – Excessive worrying or overreacting to any situation. Insomnia and difficulty concentrating may occur. Most people with PTSD have difficulty controlling their anger, or overreact to all events and actions.
How common is PTSD and who experiences it?
Anyone can develop PTSD following a traumatic event and according to Beyond Blue, around 12 per cent of Australians will experience PTSD in their lifetime. Serious accidents are one of the leading causes of PTSD in Australia.
A vicious cycle of traumatic events?
Childhood trauma -> loneliness, mistrust, isolation, vulnerability -> Adult trauma -> Unhealthy coping methods (substance use, drinking, emotional avoidance) -> Another Adult trauma
Many people with PTSD find it difficult to talk about their symptoms and diagnosis. Thinking about PTSD can lead to feelings of shame, helplessness, and loneliness. It is important to understand that observing symptoms, naming and understanding the symptoms can help you treat it.
Factors predicting recovery from traumatic events?
- Experiencing one traumatic event in your life, not multiple.
- Have supportive friends and family
- Supported by people who have experienced similar trauma
- Sustaining and maintaining daily life
- Receiving treatment for severe symptoms
- Finding meaning and purpose in life
Author: Catalina Nam, B Social Work (Hons), M Couns, AMHSW.
Accredited Mental Health Social Worker, Catalina Nam has extensive experience in counselling including but not limited to: NDIS; veterans; migrants; disability; domestic violence; and seniors; and she has undertaken advanced training in Grief and Loss. Having moved to Australia from Korea in 2003, she has first hand understanding of the challenges of being a migrant.
To make an appointment with Catalina Nam, try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call Vision Psychology Wishart on (07) 3088 5422.