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Trauma & Stress
The Psychiatry of Trauma & Stress

What is Trauma?

Trauma is an emotional response to a highly stressful event such as an accident, violence, or natural disaster. Trauma has lasting negative effects on an individual's ability to function mentally, emotionally, socially, or physically. Trauma can have adverse effects on an individual's overall health, sometimes leading to development of mental illness or substance use. Highly stressful events can even have the ability to alter our brains.

Navigating Stress

Stressful situations are unavoidable. They come in many forms and effect all age groups. Some of us are genetically and psychologically better equipped to handle stress, especially those of us who are lucky enough to have a stable environment. Other individuals can have a tougher experience. But, even if we are dealing with stress in a productive way the following questions remain:

  • How long can we continue under the stressful conditions?

  • What is the cost to our personal and family wellbeing?

  • How do we limit stress in our lives?

Effects of Trauma & Stress

Individuals respond to stress in different ways. Some may become angry and “explode” over a very tiny dispute. This response leads to more discord and additional stress.  Others attempt to ignore stressors or they isolate themselves—they disengage and loose interest and motivation.

Stress can lead to damaging, long lasting physical and mental outcomes because it raises blood cortisol levels. Stressful situations are said to be traumatic if they are both severe and either recurrent or prolonged. Traumatic stress can make an individual feel helpless and hopeless. It results in dysfunctional beliefs such as ” I’m incompetent,” or “The world isn’t safe.” Other symptoms of trauma include:

  • Flashbacks

  • Nightmares

  • Inappropriate startle responses

  • Sleep disorders

  • Dissociative episodes (The individual catches him- or herself doing unplanned actions or finds him or herself in an unexpected, unplanned location)

What Treatment is Available for Trauma & Stress?

Professional Psychiatric Services uses four treatment strategies to help people dealing with stress. They include:

  • Medication Management. Medicine can help decrease anxiety, improve the quantity and quality of sleep, and help to boost one’s self esteem.

  • Insight Therapy. By exploring the meaning of the trauma and the way it has affected relationships, the individual comes to an understanding of the source of his or her problems and its relationship to symptoms.

  • Cognitive Therapy. The therapist reveals dysfunctional beliefs about the self and the world outside.

  • Prolonged Exposure. Repeatedly confronting painful situations as directed by a trained therapist (by talking or through imagination), can often reduce or eliminate the frantic response in similar situations.

If you are affected by trauma or a stress disorder, please call us to find the right treatment for you.

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