Traumatic Stress Disorders
Trauma, in varying degrees of severity, is a fact of life. Whether it’s witnessing a crime, being involved in a car accident, being bullied by others, serving in a combat zone, or being abused as a child, the unfortunate truth is that every one of us is bound to have a traumatic experience at some point in his or her life.
A traumatic event is defined as a serious threat to your physical, sexual, or emotional integrity. Sometimes, these traumatic events are so stressful or overwhelming that your body — specifically your nervous system — cannot process them normally. The mechanisms that we normally use to process trauma cannot be activated because the stress involved is too overwhelming. It is much like running 230 volts through a 115 volt system. Rather than returning afterwards to normal functioning, you get stuck in a “survival mode” in which you feel anxious or scared that your life (or some aspect of it) is in danger, or you feel it necessary to have your guard up most of the time. Symptoms arise, including fear, depression, anxiety, resignation, reliving the event in nightmares or flashbacks, difficulty sleeping, and anger.
Since these symptoms may not even appear for weeks, months, or years after the traumatic event, you may not even connect them with their cause. But you probably do know that you don’t feel as alive, happy, or hopeful as you used to.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and acute traumatic stress disorder include these symptoms and results from these highly traumatic events. Acute traumatic stress disorder is the diagnosis at the onset of symptoms. If symptoms persist longer than one month, it is diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD can affect those who experience a traumatic event and also the people who witness the event, the family and friends of the person who experiences it, and the people who come to the scene after the event — i.e. police officers, emergency workers, and clean-up crew.
Not all trauma results in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
It’s normal to feel confused, numb, and anxious after you witness or experience a traumatic event. Most times that fear, confusion and numbness diminish over time until you can get back to normal life. You may think back to the event, but it doesn’t paralyze you or make you very anxious. It is called PTSD when the fear, confusion, or sense of numbness do not lessen. In fact, they may even get worse over time. You get stuck in the horrible feeling that you had just after the event — fear, paralysis, confusion, anger, etc.
A Common Problem
Paul, I am so glad to be working with you. I have looked around for a very long time for someone who understands the many faces of how “trauma” presents itself, which you are keenly aware of.
I have been in the healing and medical profession for over 25 years, and I find true “healers” are rare. True healing comes from a place of deep compassion, caring, and kindness, which I see and experience from you, in our work together.
I know that whatever gunk and murkiness is there in myself that needs healing, will be moved through with tenderness and kindness in our work together to reveal greater clarity, happiness and peace in my life.
— L.F.,Los Angeles, CA
Roughly eight percent of the population will be medically diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder at some point in their life. A far higher percentage actually live with it for decades without knowing it and without realizing that they can do something to help themselves. Often alcoholism and drug abuse accompany prolonged PTSD because people feel strongly drawn to use substances to ease the pain and fear they feel in their lives. There are also feelings of shame, remorse, and other complex emotions.
Treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
A solution does exist and help isn’t far away. Fortunately, our psychological understanding of post-traumatic stress disorder has progressed significantly since the disorder was first diagnosed in 1980. Now we understand the mechanisms in the body that cause post-traumatic stress disorder. We understand that it is not caused by a weakness of character, a lack of will or courage, or a bad attitude. It is not even primarily a psychological problem. It is a “wound” of the nervous system, caused by trauma…a wound which can be healed. With this understanding, we can help people with PTSD get back to a happy, healthy life.
Somatic Experiencing® — A Natural Healing Process
Somatic experiencing is a natural, drug-free way of curing post-traumatic stress disorder. The founder of the somatic experiencing treatment technique, Peter Levine, based his technique on observing wild animals processing trauma. He noticed that wild animals experience danger and traumatic events on a regular basis, yet they have a natural way to process these events and get back to living their normal lives. Their bodies process the events for them by having a physical release of the trauma.
Somatic Experiencing will help you learn what the animals know, how to use awareness of the sensations in the body to process the traumatic event. By noticing your body’s sensations and feelings in response to events in your life, and by noticing how and when it gets “stuck” in stress mode, you can begin to let go physically of the stress and begin to heal from the traumatic experience.
Releasing The Past — PTSD, Trauma, & Loss Therapy
Somatic Experiencing Sessions With Paul Chubbuck
970-493-2958 — 1010 Morgan Street — Fort Collins, Colorado 80524