After any traumatic experience, it is natural to feel sad, anxious, and scared. However, as time passes, feelings of being upset and/or “disconnected from life” begin to diminish and people feel better. Sometimes when the traumatic experience is so overwhelming (or it combines with previous dramas), an individual can feel he or she cannot move past it. The person is “stuck“ with painful memories that do not fade and may perceive a constant sense of danger.
The most common cause of PTSD is an event or series of events that makes a person feel helpless. This condition became associated with soldiers in military combat, but any overwhelming life experience that feels unpredictable or uncontrollable can precipitate PTSD. It can affect those who personally experience a catastrophe, those who witnessed it (a witness to violence is a victim of violence), or people who “pick up the pieces“ after a disaster. This can include emergency workers, and friends and family who support someone who lived through the trauma.
There are many variations as to how individuals experience PTSD. Most symptoms develop within days following the event, but it can sometimes take weeks, months or even years to appear and become full-blown PTSD.
After a traumatic event, almost everyone experiences the loss of safety and trust. Some people say they feel “disconnected and numb.” It is common to have bad dreams, be fearful or apprehensive, and not be able to stop thinking about what happened. These are normal reactions to abnormal events. For most people, these symptoms are short-lived and they gradually lift. With PTSD, however, the symptoms do not decrease. Instead of feeling better every day, feelings may worsen. Although everyone experiences PTSD differently, there are three main types of symptoms:
- Avoidance and numbing
- Re-experiencing the traumatic event
- Increased anxiety and emotional arousal
Even though it is common for many people suffering from PTSD to feel that there is no hope that they will ever feel better, it is important to realize that the sooner it is treated, the easier it is to overcome. While it may seem natural to want to avoid painful memories and feelings, trying to numb oneself and push the memories away will cause the PTSD to only get worse. The avoidance can ultimately harm relationships, the ability to function and the overall quality of life.
With a solid treatment plan and developing new coping skills, overcoming the symptoms of PTSD is possible. When seeing a client for PTSD, we do require a referral from a physician and like to work as a team that includes a mental health professional, such as a licensed psychotherapist, to ensure that we create the best possible solution. Since we commonly see clients for insomnia, stress, low tolerance to frustration, fears and phobias, trouble with focus and concentration, “feeling stuck,” relationship issues, etc., it may be possible that there can be PTSD that has not been diagnosed. If this is the case, sessions will be paused until an evaluation has been completed by a physician and or licensed psychotherapist.
My approach for working with clients that are experiencing PTSD includes Hypnosis in a restorative and therapeutic environment, Guided Imagery, and Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP), along with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Mindfulness, Yoga Nidra, Breathwork, and Desensitization. Over time, clients begin to experience a different range of feelings, improve their sleep, develop resilience and stronger coping skills that will allow them to move forward in life without having to return to the state of mind or the state of reaction that has held onto them for so long.
For more information about how Hypnosis and Guided Imagery can help you, please call 203-775-1819.