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Recovering from trauma can be a lifelong process. Each situation is as unique as the person experiencing it, and while some may be able to confront their pain and suffering, others are less resilient. For this reason, there is no way to speed the healing.

What is trauma?

Trauma results from a profoundly distressing experience. It could be the result of things that happened to you or from something you witnessed. It could be a result of Adverse Childhood Experience, losing a loved one, a divorce, illness, or losing a job; or it could be the result of a catastrophic event like a hurricane, war, torture, rape, or violent crime.

What is PTSD?

Some of the traumatic events we cited above are quite extreme, some seemingly less so, but they can all have the same effects, depending on the person who struggles with it. Many go on to lead normal lives, largely unaffected by the trauma they experienced, while others may be more vulnerable to the stressors. If this situation continues without treatment, it could become post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The correlation between trauma and PTSD

It is more or less agreed that PTSD is the product of an interaction between the intensity of the trauma and the level of the individual’s personal vulnerability. However, a serious catastrophic event, like a terrorist attack or an extreme weather event, for example, might be enough to produce PTSD in anybody who experienced it – not just the vulnerable.

Symptoms and onset of PTSD

PTSD symptoms may start to manifest themselves within days or weeks of the trauma, but sometimes it takes years to become apparent. Because of its manifestations, it may be challenging to hold down a job, maintain personal relationships, or cope with social situations.

Symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Intrusive, unwanted memories of the event, nightmares, flashbacks, and extreme responses to situations that remind you of the trauma.
  • Avoidance, not wanting to talk about it, avoiding people or places that remind you.
  • Feeling hopeless, helpless, and having negative thoughts about others and the world.
  • Loss of interest in the things you love.
  • Emotional numbness.
  • Tough time expressing positive emotions.
  • Changes in physical and emotional responses to situations, like hyper-vigilance, self-destructive behavior, irritability, rage, and often feelings of guilt or shame.

Why it’s important to get help for PTSD right away

The intensity of PTSD may change over time. They may increase with stress, or certain stressors, like if you are reminded of the event. For example, a car may backfire and take you right back to the combat zone. A news item about a violent crime may trigger memories of your experience.

If you or a loved one has been having intense feelings about a traumatic event, if it has lasted for weeks or months, or if there are suicidal thoughts present, you should seek help as soon as possible. Simply avoiding the issue is not the answer – in fact, research has shown that there is a strong correlation between avoidance and the development of PTSD. The sooner you can seek help, the sooner you will feel better.

If you are dealing with trauma or PTSD in Long Beach, reach out today, we are always here to help.