Will My Trauma Ever Go Away?

Will My Trauma Ever Go Away?

Will My Trauma Ever Go Away?

If you’ve experienced something traumatic, you might be asking yourself, will I always feel this way? At first, it might be difficult to imagine that things can get better but even if full recovery isn’t possible, the right therapy will help you manage your symptoms so that you can live a fulfilling life. 

The Difference Between Trauma and PTSD

Even though it might seem like trauma and PTSD are synonymous, they aren’t exactly the same thing. Trauma is distress experienced after witnessing or going through an upsetting event and PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) is a set of symptoms and long-term condition that makes the sufferer relive the traumatic event. In other words, trauma can be compared to pain while PTSD is more like ongoing suffering.

In the 2014 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing in England, 3.7% of men and 5.1% of women screened positive for PTSD, while it’s estimated that even half of the adult population experienced ACE (adverse childhood experience). [1] [2]

The Most Effective Therapies That Can Help Treat PTSD and Trauma

If psychological help is received as soon as the traumatic event occurs, it’s less likely that trauma will become a long-lasting impairment. It’s also important to remember that everyone has a different response to trauma and might require a different treatment approach or even a combination of two types of therapies.

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)

According to this approach, we aren’t able to fully process the trauma immediately after it happens which can lead to generating unhelpful beliefs when we attempt to understand it.

For example, a patient might start believing that no one can be trusted or that it’s not safe to leave the house. CPT is a talking therapy that focusses on modifying those unhelpful beliefs and replacing them with more realistic statements. Research shows that CPT is effective in reducing PTSD symptoms, particularly in people who experienced sexual assault and veterans. [3]

Trauma-Focussed Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (TF-CBT)

TF-CBT is a treatment mainly dedicated to children and adolescents. Just like CPT, it teaches a patient to change distorted thinking but also helps modify behaviours and reactions that arise from it. Additionally, it involves learning new coping skills, gradual exposure that aims to minimise emotional distress and caregiver involvement which allows training a parent on how to support their child through a difficult time. Several literature reviews find TF-CBT to be effective in treating various types of trauma in children. [4]

Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE)

Following a trauma, it’s normal to develop a strong fear response to seemingly harmless stimuli, such as experiencing extreme anxiety when hearing loud noises. The aim of this therapy is to teach a patient skills to help them cope when they encounter their triggers and gradually face their fears starting from the least frightening one. Findings from recent studies show that PE reduces symptoms of PTSD, depression and anxiety. [5]

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)

Unlike other talking therapies, EMDR directly alters the way a traumatic memory is stored in the brain; a patient is encouraged to concentrate on the memory while following the therapist’s instructions. For example, a patient moves their eyes from side to side while looking at a moving dot; this prevents the working memory from fully concentrating on the upsetting event, which decreases negative emotions associated with it. This type of treatment has been shown to reduce symptoms in 70% of patients. [6]

If you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Contact My Family Psychologist for a confidential chat

[1] https://cks.nice.org.uk/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/background-information/prevalence/
[2] https://www.actionaces.org/what-are-aces/
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6224348/
[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4396183/
[5] https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/15346501211017989
[6] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S000579161100098X

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