Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Post-Traumatic Stress

Have you witnessed or been exposed to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence? Do you struggle with intrusive and involuntary distressing memories of the trauma? Do you avoid people, places or things in order to avoid reminders and feelings associated with the trauma? Do you have persistent negative beliefs about yourself as a result of the trauma? Do you feel detached from people? If you have these symptoms, you may have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD can hinder one socially, occupationally, or academically, and can interfere with the ability to establish and maintain relationships. Having PTSD could result in poor concentration, sleep disturbance, hypervigilance, recklessness or self-destructive behaviors. If any of these sound familiar, professional help is necessary.

When trauma occurs, it gets stored in the central nervous system and it disrupts normal brain functioning. When such trauma results in PTSD, such symptoms will not resolve on their own, and will require professional help. Treatment is available and recovery is possible. One such treatment is eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). EMDR helps discharge the hyperarousal that's stored in the central nervous system, it helps reprocess memories that have been stored in a maladaptive way in the hippocampus so that the brain can re-store these memories in an adaptive way without the emotional charge connected to the memories. EMDR can also help to decrease and possibly eliminate flashbacks and nightmares, as well as decrease triggers to the flashbacks.

Recovery from trauma is possible, and stability and calm can be restored. If you or someone you know has PTSD, reaching out for professional help is a positive first step. If you would like to take that first step, please call me at 619-507-2936.

Debbie Tessmer-Wagner, MA, LFMT

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