Trauma can happen to anyone. In fact, current estimates are that as many as 70% of adults in the US have experienced trauma in their lives. Of those who experience trauma, around 20% develop PTSD as a result of their experiences. In order to help you prevent a traumatic event from developing into PTSD, we have listed some steps that you can take.
What is trauma?
Trauma occurs when a person experiences an event that is so intense and extreme that it overwhelms their normal coping mechanisms. A person who experiences trauma may have a number of emotional reactions, including, numbness, sadness, anger, anxiety, fear, and guilt. These feelings will typically fade over time if they effectively work through the trauma. However, if trauma is not adequately resolved, it can become PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
What is PTSD?
PTSD occurs when trauma gets “frozen in time” in a person’s brain. As a result, they may re-experience the trauma years later and feel like it “just happened yesterday”. Fortunately, there are a number of things that can help you prevent trauma from becoming PTSD. Below is a list of steps you can take to minimize the risk of developing PTSD.
Strategies to help prevent Trauma from becoming PTSD
- Talk through the events – The more that we can put words to what we experienced the less power those events have over us. It is important to talk about the trauma even though it may initially bring up a lot of emotions. Talking about what happened is an important part of the healing process.
- Let yourself grieve – Grieving is the normal process that we go through whenever we have a loss. Grief often includes feelings of numbness, sadness, hurt, anger, and emptiness. Recognize that these are normal feelings and that it takes time for the grieving process to be completed. It is also helpful to remember that the more that we can put words to our feelings, the more successful we tend to be in healing.
- Work to change traumatic thoughts – When a person experiences trauma, they often have extreme thoughts that occur during the traumatic event. For example, if your life is being threatened, it is normal to think “I am going to die.” When you make it through the trauma, you may still have that thought imprinted in your brain. Without recognizing it, you may start telling yourself over and over, “I am going to die”.If this thought becomes “frozen” in the brain, it can lead to a constant state of fear, anxiety, and depression. To prevent this, it is helpful to identify the specific thoughts that occurred during the traumatic event and replace them with thoughts such as “I am going to make it” or “I am going to recover”.
- Learn to recognize triggers – People who experience trauma may develop “triggers” that cause them to relive some of the thoughts or feelings that occurred during the trauma. For example, a loud noise or a certain smell could remind you of a traumatic event. The more you can recognize these triggers, the more you can overcome them.
- Disconnect the triggers – We develop “triggers” because of the strong emotions that occur during a traumatic event. Working through the emotions allows you to disconnect the triggers and will help minimize the risk of PTSD developing.
- Seek therapy – Therapy can provide you with a safe place to deal with feelings that don’t always feel very safe. Find a therapist who is familiar with trauma so that you can get the help that you need to heal.
New Dimensions Can Help!
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms or problems, New Dimensions can help. Our team of experienced therapists and psychiatrists can help you overcome these challenges and help you develop the skills you need to thrive. To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.
Our affiliate, MHThrive, provides Individual Therapy, Couples and Marriage Counseling, and Family Therapy at our locations in Katy, The Woodlands, and the Clear Lake area of Houston, Texas. We also provide telehealth therapy for anyone who resides within the State of Texas. To schedule an appointment with one of the MHThrive therapists, contact us at 713-477-0333 or visit www.mhthrive.com to learn more.