Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: The Relationship Between Trauma and PTSD

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder: The Relationship Between Trauma and PTSD

We all experience trauma throughout our life, and the brain and body respond in a number of natural ways. Unfortunately, some people react more severely to trauma, often leading to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Trauma and PTSD are directly related, and understanding their complex relationships can be instrumental in healing from past traumas.

If untreated, PTSD can lead to several complications. That includes the development of other mental health conditions, substance use disorders (SUD), mental health crises, and other physical conditions. Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention can help you with your trauma and PTSD through our crisis stabilization and other professional mental health services. To learn more, contact us today.

Trauma and Mental Health

How we respond to distressing situations may or may not be a natural response. Individuals experience an adrenal response to stress, which typically presents in a fight-or-flight situation. However, experiencing trauma at a young age can result in more complex issues.

If a child is never taught healthy ways to cope with stress or trauma, they search for alternative coping mechanisms. Unfortunately, there is a high risk that this leads to self-harm, substance use, and other forms of self-medication.

Additionally, untreated trauma can lead to the development of additional mental health conditions. Substance use may become a way to cope with the initial trauma. Ultimately, over time, more conditions develop.

What Are Trauma and PTSD?

Trauma is defined as emotional responses, typically to distressing events like an accident or natural disaster. Feelings of shock and denial are typical directly after an incident. However, long-term reactions are also to be expected, ranging from flashbacks and nightmares to the inability to function day-to-day.

When the long-term symptoms of trauma become more intense and difficult to control, it may be a sign of PTSD. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) describes PTSD as a “disorder that develops in some people who experience a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.”

Signs and Symptoms of PTSD

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of trauma and PTSD is key to diagnosis. These symptoms are categorized as re-experiencing, avoidance, arousal and reactivity, and cognition and mood symptoms.

For a diagnosis, a person must experience at least one re-experiencing and avoidance symptom, and at least two arousal and reactivity and cognition and mood symptoms. They include:

  • Re-experiencing symptoms
    • Flashbacks
    • Nightmares
    • Frightening thoughts
  • Avoidance symptoms:
    • Staying away from places, people, things, thoughts, and feelings related to a traumatic event
  • Arousal and reactivity symptoms
    • Easily startled
    • Feeling on edge
    • Trouble sleeping
    • Outbursts of anger
  • Cognition and mood symptoms
    • Difficulty remembering detail of a traumatic event
    • Negative thoughts about yourself or the world
    • Feelings of guilt or blame
    • Lack of interest in enjoyable activates

If you recognize any of these symptoms after experiencing a traumatic event, discuss them with your doctor immediately. A diagnosis is key to seeking professional mental health treatment and healing from your trauma.

Does Everyone Experience Trauma and PTSD?

We may notice that some people develop PTSD while others do not. The NIMH indicates some risk factors that may put you at a greater risk for developing PTSD, such as:

  1. Exposure to dangerous events
  2. Childhood trauma
  3. Having little or no social support after a traumatic event
  4. Experience extra stress after a distressing event
  5. Having a family history of mental illness

Untreated PTSD can also increase your risk of developing a SUD. Individuals may self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. However, doing so can severely worsen PTSD symptoms. The only way to successfully recover from trauma and PTSD is to seek professional treatment. That sometimes includes trauma-informed care.

Treating Trauma and PTSD

PTSD and Trauma-informed care “involves a broad understanding of traumatic stress reactions and common responses to trauma.”

Individuals experience all forms of trauma throughout their lives. Trauma can develop from a single event or repetitive long-lasting exposure to distress. By seeking treatment, trauma-informed care can help you:

  • Focus on your strengths and empower you
  • Offer people treatment options that are best for them
  • Collaborate between healthcare providers, patients, and family members
  • Prioritize physical and emotional safety
  • Develop trust with your clinicians

Other ways to treat trauma and PTSD include:

  • Medications that help manage symptoms
  • Psychotherapies help people discover the core of their condition and learn healthy coping skills
  • Family therapy helps the whole family by educating them about PTSD and showing how they can help support their loved ones
  • Attending a support group meeting can help you form bonds with other individuals trying to cope with trauma and PTSD

A combination of these practices can help you understand the relationships between trauma and “What is PTSD?” and manage your symptoms. Call Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention today for more information or to seek treatment. We can help you discover a better way today.

Individuals respond to trauma and distressing situations in a number of ways. We experience an adrenal response to distress which often manifests in a fight-or-flight response. However, it is also typical for us to experience long-term symptoms for an extended period of time after a traumatic event occurs. These long-term symptoms can ultimately hinder our ability to function day-to-day and lead to substance use and the development of further mental health conditions. This is referred to as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and trauma and PTSD are directly related. Thankfully, several treatment options can effectively treat trauma and PTSD in La Mesa, San Diego and Nearby Cities, ranging from medications to psychotherapy. To seek treatment, call Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention at (866) 986-1481 today.