Trauma and PTSD
Trauma is any event that a person perceives as harmful or threatening and has a long-lasting effect on that person’s well-being. Our brains protect itself from a traumatic event the best it can, often resulting in PTSD symptoms.
What is PTSD?
- Recurrent, painful dreams
- Vivid flashbacks (feeling like the trauma is happening right now)
- Emotional numbness
- Jittery/always on edge
- Difficulty concentrating
- Hesitancy to open up to other people, even those you trusted before the trauma
- Persistent fear, horror, anger, guilt, or shame
- Diminished interest in activities you previously enjoy
- Difficulty feeling positive emotions
- A general feeling of detachment from the world or yourself
- Continuous feeling of discomfort in stomach and gut
- Physical sensations such as pain, sweating, nausea or trembling
- Intense distress at real or symbolic reminders of the trauma
What should I do when PTSD is triggered?
- Box Breathing – Breathe in counting to four slowly. Feel the air enter your lungs. Hold your breath for 4 seconds. Slowly exhale through your mouth for 4 seconds. Repeat the steps until you feel your body slowing down. This is a known strategy for pulling your body out of flight or fight mode (triggered when your body think you’re at risk) and into a relaxed, safe spot.
- 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique – Name 5 things you can see around you, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. Bringing our attention to our senses grounds us in the present and counting the items interrupts the spinning of our thoughts.
- Call a friend – Experiment with what makes you feel safe. Some people find talking through these moments helpful. For others, physical touch like a strong hug from a close friend can help them through the worse panic. Find what works for you and tell the people close to you. Create a safety plan for when you feel overwhelmed. Remember, you aren’t alone.