Post-traumatic stress disorder is one emotional reaction to having lived through an intense experience. Certainly the horror and stress of war are capable of affecting a person long after the immediacy of battle has passed. But war is far from the only trauma which can imprint on a person’s emotional state. Trauma can take many forms and its impact too can surface in myriad ways.
Consider, for example, the person who has been the victim of a violent crime. This experience may affect them for years if they don’t receive professional help sorting out their complicated emotional responses. They may fear being alone, being with strangers or wary of any situation which reminds them of the event in which they were victimized.
Living through a natural disaster can also be traumatizing. The feelings of helplessness and danger during such a time may leave a person hyper-vigilant about weather and disaster preparations.
It isn’t necessary to be the person directly involved in a tragedy in order to be traumatized by it. Studies have shown that 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombings deeply affected many who viewed them on their television screens. The same is true for those who have been firsthand witnesses to domestic violence.
People who undergo trauma may become subject to any number of physical, behavioral or cognitive symptoms. They may suddenly find that they struggle with panic attacks. They may deal with symptoms of depression. Those symptoms could be sleeping too much or having trouble getting to sleep. They might have trouble focusing or concentrating, and their memory may not operate as effectively as it did prior to the trauma. Some may experience behavioral changes like eating too much or losing their appetite.
For many, the only way out of this cycle will be taking part in a comprehensive treatment plan that includes talking about it with another person. Ignoring problems doesn’t make them go away. Those issues are still there and are liable to pop up when least expected.
A professional counselor can be especially helpful because they are able to teach the person skills for dealing with intrusive thoughts and memories and the feelings those remembrances produce. A treatment plan involving talking through one’s feelings can help someone work through the memories associated with the trauma. It is, of course, painful to recount instances of trauma, but there is healing in the process.