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Basic Facts to Know about Trauma and PTSD

Basic Facts to Know about Trauma and PTSD


Basic Facts to Know about Trauma and PTSD


Highly stressful events such as natural disasters, personal misfortunes, or violence can happen to anyone. Regardless of the cause, a traumatic experience can leave a person frightened, miserable, distressed, anxious, guilty, helpless, and disconnected. Some people are able to overcome these negative feelings over time, move on, and live their lives to the fullest. This may not happen easily for others, and their symptoms may get worse, spiraling into post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

Post-traumatic stress disorder can be a major concern if it hits you or a loved one. If the experience is too overwhelming, the symptoms may not just naturally dissipate. Seeking the help of a therapist can help you get back on track without further negative repercussions.


Trauma: What Is It?   

Trauma is a distressing experience that can cause extreme pain and fear. It can make you feel emotionally overwhelmed. It can disable your natural abilities to adjust or integrate your emotional experience, so that you feel threatened by negative thoughts, even if they do not exist. It can impair your functionality and prevent you from living your normal life.

Trauma is a unique, subjective experience. The way people respond to trauma is highly variable. This means that the impact of a distressing event can be different for different people; there are vast differences in the way people perceive their experiences. Some may successfully work through their trauma with little effort, but some may develop extreme and prolonged symptoms of PTSD.


What Is PTSD?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), post-traumatic stress disorder “is a disorder that develops in some people who have seen or lived through a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.”  While not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will develop the condition, it should not be taken lightly, because a significant number do. The Sidran Institute shares that about “70 percent of adults in the United States have experienced a traumatic event at least once in their lives and up to 20 percent of these people go on to develop posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.”

When the symptoms do not ease over time, the nervous system may get “stuck,” so that the usual responses that help you recover from trauma do not work. This means that you may have difficulty controlling your defensive “fight-or-flight” response or that you will feel immobilized, even when the danger has already passed or it does not exist.


PTSD Symptoms to Watch Out For

PTSD symptoms may be felt almost immediately after the event, or start to manifest weeks, months, or even years later. A person with PTSD may have difficulty living a normal life, as they are haunted by flashbacks and nightmares triggered by events, places, or people they have difficulty avoiding.

The symptoms may range from panic attacks and physical symptoms to depression, intense anxiety, functionality issues, self-harm, and substance abuse. When you are reminded of the harrowing event, you may experience fast heartbeat, sweating, and queasiness. You may not be able to go to certain places or do certain things that trigger memories of the event, and may become isolated, numb, or uninterested in many facets of your normal life. You may also experience intense emotions, such as constant anger, irritability, and tension, and have difficulty eating, sleeping, or focusing.

PTSD can also affect children and adolescents. In fact, youngsters are very sensitive to trauma, but their symptoms may not be similar to those of grownups. Young children may exhibit regression or delay in achieving their developmental milestones or they may act out, be unusually clingy with their parents, or become unsociable. Older children may develop disruptive behaviors at home or school and some symptoms similar to those of adults.


Helping Yourself or a Family Member with PTSD

PTSD can make you (or your loved one) feel frightened, guilty, distressed, or helpless even when there is no logical reason to feel that way. These feelings and thoughts can make life unduly difficult for you and your family. The stress can affect your progress at school or work, interfere with your interactions, and threaten your personal relationships and your productivity.

If you or a loved one has gone through a horrible experience and is manifesting the signs and symptoms of PTSD, it is critical to seek professional help right away to prevent things from getting worse. If you live in or near Pittsboro, NC, help is just in the neighborhood. The first step is to call Carolina Counseling Services – Pittsboro, NC, to schedule your first session with one of our independently contracted therapists. 

PTSD is treatable, and talk therapy is a very powerful method to treat its symptoms. There is no reason to suffer with overwhelming feelings of fear, guilt, distress, or helplessness. Call Carolina Counseling Services – Pittsboro, NC, so we can help you overcome your symptoms.


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Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Pittsboro, NC

Counties: Chatham, Alamance, Durham, Harnett, Lee, Moore, Orange, Randolph, Wake, NC

Areas: Pittsboro NC, Gulf NC, Hickory Mountain NC, Hadley NC, Siler City NC, Wilsonville NC, Fearrington NC, Mandale NC, Bear Creek NC, Albright NC

Zip Codes: 27207, 27228, 27256, 27312, 27344, 27559


Gail Gustafson, MSW, LCSW

Specializes in: (Ages 9+) Adolescents and Adults, Individuals, Couples and Families. PTSD/Trauma, EMDR, Adoption, Drug/Alcohol/Substance Abuse addiction, Anxiety, Depression, Bi-polar, Life Transitions, Grief and Loss, Parenting, Family, couples and marriage counseling.
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