Author: Valerie Harris, LPC
According to Webster’s Pocket Dictionary (2000), trauma can be defined as a severe emotional shock having a deep effect upon the personality. When a person has an emotional shock to the system it can be caused by many situations and manifest in several different ways (APA, 2013). Many people believe that Post-traumatic Stress Disorder can only be an effect of war and experienced by military combat veterans (APA, 2013). However, that is not the case.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD, is a common disorder in which a person experiences disabling anxiety after a traumatic event (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, 2013). People with PTSD cannot stop thinking about the traumatic event (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, 2013). PTSD can occur in an individual learning about the violent death of a close family member or friend(Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, 2013). It can also occur as a result of repeated exposure to horrible details of trauma such as police officers exposed to details of child abuse cases (APA, 2013). PTSD can occur in all people, of any ethnicity, nationality or culture, and at any age (APA, 2013).
Symptoms of PTSD may include nervousness; being on edge; trouble sleeping, nightmares or unwanted memories of the trauma; avoidance of people, places or situations that bring back memories of the trauma; heightened reactions; anxiety, irritability, or depressed mood (APA, 2013). Some symptoms of trauma can be physical and present as headaches, chest pain and dizziness and make it difficult for us to even be aware they are related to the trauma (APA, 2013). It is important to tell a mental health professional you are experiencing any new physical symptoms following any type of trauma. Alcoholism and drug dependence can also be exacerbated or presented after a traumatic event, both of which can be treated by mental health specialists (APA, 2013).
Trauma can also be related to losing a loved one to violence, being threatened at gunpoint or fearing for your life or that of someone close to you (APA, 2013). Trauma survivors may experience PTSD symptoms anywhere from two days to many weeks or even months after a traumatic event (APA, 2013). If symptoms continue for weeks after an event, you may have PTSD and may need to see someone about the trauma (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, 2013).
This community has suffered multiple traumas in recent months that will require months, if not years, for many people in the community to heal from. All people are different and may require different ways, different levels and different methods and different time frames to cope with trauma. Please seek professional counseling services if you have been impacted by trauma.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA.
The New International Webster’s Pocket Dictionary of the English Language (New Revised Edition), (2000) United States of America: Trident Press International.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder-PTSD. (2013). The Patient Education Institute, Inc., Coralville, IA.