Experiencing a traumatic event does not always mean you will go on to develop Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In fact, it is completely normal to experience fear and anxiety after something traumatic has occurred. But over time, these symptoms should start to dissipate naturally.
If you or your loved one survived a traumatic event and any of the following statements are true for you, it is likely time to seek professional help:
- When disturbing symptoms persist 1 month after a traumatic event
- When symptoms seem to be getting worse over time
- When symptoms begin to impair social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning
- When you start avoiding more and more people, places, or things so that you don’t trigger symptoms or a stress reaction
- When feeling helpless or hopeless about your situation
- If attempts to cope with the trauma lead you to engage in unhealthy behaviors (e.g., alcohol or drug use, withdrawing from friends and family, risk-taking behavior)
The first step is finding the right trauma therapist for you. Your therapist should have experience working with trauma, specifically the kind of trauma you are looking for help with. Whoever you select should be someone you feel you can build a safe, trusting relationship with. Therapists are not one-size-fits-all! What will be the ideal therapist for your friend or partner may not be the best fit for you. It is completely fine to trial a therapist for a few sessions to find out if they are someone you can open up to. A good therapist will be supportive and create the environment you need to work through your struggles.
Once you’ve found the right trauma therapist, there are a variety of treatment options available that are evidence-based (i.e., well researched and found to be effective). Whether you want individual sessions or group sessions with others who have been through something similar to you, there is an approach that will bring symptom relief.
No single treatment is effective for everyone. It may take time to find the right fit for you. Talking with a professional that you trust (e.g., family doctor, local clergy, local mental health association) might help point you in the right direction.
Take one step towards reclaiming your health today and liberate yourself from the past events that may be haunting you. Make your health a priority. You are worth it.