by Ann Williams, LPC
After a traumatic experience, it is normal to feel frightened, sad, anxious, and disconnected from the people and world around you. If the upset feelings do not dissipate, you may feel ‘stuck’ with a continuous sense of danger and painful memories. It can even begin to feel as though you will never ‘get over’ what happened and feel ‘normal’ again. By reaching out and seeking treatment to learn and implement new coping skills, you can conquer PTSD and move forward with your life.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can develop following a traumatic event that threatens your safety or makes you feel helpless. Most people associate PTSD with soldiers who have been in battle, as military combat is the most common cause in men, but any overwhelming life experience can trigger PTSD, especially if the event feels unpredictable and uncontrollable. PTSD can affect those who personally experience the catastrophe, those who witness it, and those who are involved afterwards, including emergency workers and law enforcement officers. It can even occur in the friends and/or family members of those who went through the actual trauma.
PTSD develops differently from one person to the next, and while the symptoms of PTSD most commonly develop in the hours or days following the traumatic event, it can sometimes take weeks, months, or even years before they appear. The traumatic events that lead to post-traumatic stress disorder are usually overwhelming and very frightening. Following a traumatic event, almost everyone experiences at least some of the symptoms of PTSD. When your sense of safety and trust are compromised, it is normal to feel as though you are going ‘crazy’, disconnected, or numb. Oftentimes an individual will experience bad dreams, feelings of fear, and have difficulty stopping thoughts about the traumatic event.
PTSD includes frequent re-experiencing of the traumatic event, avoiding reminders of the trauma and increased anxiety and emotional arousal. You may find yourself avoiding activities, places, thoughts, or feelings that remind you of the trauma; being unable to remember important aspects of the trauma; losing interest in activities and life in general; feeling detached from others or emotionally numb; and perhaps experiencing a sense of doom and gloom about the future (“my life will never turn out like I planned”). Increased anxiety and emotional arousal can result in difficulty falling or staying asleep; irritability or outbursts of anger; difficulty concentrating; hypervigilance (on constant alert for threat); and feeling jumpy and easily startled. These symptoms make it very difficult to live your life.
Why should you seek help? The traumatic event or events you experienced are not your fault. You do not have to ‘hide’ from the world you once thrived in. And most importantly, you are not alone. The earlier you begin treatment, the better. Symptoms of PTSD may get worse and dealing with them now will likely help stop them from getting worse in the future.
Telehealth is very helpful when leaving your home or trying to juggle family life, appointments, and other tasks is difficult. From the comfort and ‘safety’ of your home, you can receive the help you need to reclaim your life and live it on your terms. Through the confidential website Breakthrough.com, you can meet with a therapist who will help you learn how to cope with and rid yourself of the symptoms you are experiencing. You can be assured that your sessions will remain confidential, be scheduled at times most convenient for you, and are covered by many insurance plans.
Getting the help you need in the privacy of your own home will allow you to begin to learn and utilize skills that will help you feel safer about going out and interacting with others and the world you remember. Through Breakthrough, you can find a therapist who specializes in trauma and will be fully with you as your wounds heal and you rejoin life. You do not have to be afraid any longer. Help is out there!
Ann Williams is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Drug & Alcohol Counselor in the state of Nebraska. She graduated Bellevue University with an M.S. in Human Services/Clinical Counseling in 2002.