The American Psychological Association defines trauma as an “emotional response someone has to an extremely negative event”.
Trauma can be further defined as being unexpected and there was nothing you could have done to prevent it from happening. A few examples of trauma may include being abused in some way, fighting in combat during a war, or experiencing a natural disaster.
There are varying levels of post-trauma disorders, from very low to severe.
Trauma can be difficult to overcome emotionally. Often, people seek the help of a trauma specialist or expert in the mental health field to learn how to cope. Seeking help has shown to greatly enhance recovery time for individuals.
If you have been through a traumatic event, you may be wondering if you could benefit from seeking professional help.
Think back over the last two to three months. Answer the following questions with your emotional and physical symptoms in mind. At the end of the quiz you can score your results to find out if seeking help is a promising idea for you.
If you scored between zero and twenty points, it is rare that you experience symptoms of trauma. At first, right after the trauma, you may have felt shock, disconnection, and found yourself reliving the traumatic event over and over in your mind. However, over time, you began to feel less stressed and your worries began to ease.
You feel mentally capable of working through any episodes related to the trauma. You participate in healthy activities that help you cope with your feelings regarding the traumatic event. These activities can include exercising, nutrition and holistic treatments such as yoga or meditation. You may even be able to use your spiritual connections to help you cope.
There are times people can feel fine after a traumatic event when actually they are suppressing their emotions. The brain can go into defense mode and to protect you from reliving the trauma, it pushes it to the back part of your memory, so that you do not recall it. This blocking out of memories can be harmful. It can show up in negative behaviors like over-eating or not eating at all, smoking, substance abuse or becoming a workaholic.
If you have negative behaviors but you do not know why you have them, the trauma you experienced may be the root of the problem. Meeting with a licensed mental health professional can help you determine if your behaviors are related to suppressed emotions relating to a trauma.
If you scored between twenty-one and forty points, you have been having negative symptoms for more than a month. Your symptoms are acute. You have been reliving the traumatic event in your mind and your sleep has been affected. You may even be having nightmares about the trauma.
You are doing whatever you can to avoid any person, place or thing that reminds you of the traumatic event. You are easily startled and have a high amount of anxiety. This anxiety may is not interfering with how you function at work and home, however. You are actually still high functioning except for a few instances where your symptoms are overwhelming.
Seeking help from a trained mental health professional should be done now before your symptoms get worse. An evaluation by a Psychologist can tell you if you need therapy and how intensive the therapy needs to be. At this level, you may only need a limited amount of treatment to help you handle your current symptoms.
Therapists can teach you coping skills and provide you with a great deal of information on why you are feeling the way you do. You can learn simple exercises and relaxation techniques to help you outside of counseling. Medication is not likely needed at this point because your symptoms can be dealt with through activities that promote good mental health. However, it may be used on a short-term basis to treat some of your symptoms (help sleeping, headaches).
If you scored between forty-one and sixty points, you have been experiencing symptoms for a prolonged period. However, while they are not combined with an additional mental health disorder, they are causing you inconveniences in every day life. You may be having nightmares about the event and even losing sleep.
You may also be startled easily and over-react to situations that ordinarily would not cause you stress. You are most likely experiencing extreme anxiety that can produce panic attacks. Introducing negative coping skills such as drinking or using drugs seems like a good idea to you at this point.
Better options for help include long-term therapy from a mental health professional specializing in post-traumatic stress disorder. Short-term medication could improve the temporary symptoms enough to allow you the time you need to focus on healing.
Working with a therapist who can provide several types of counseling methods is best. Cognitive behavioral therapy, art therapy, mindfulness therapy, and group therapy are great ways to alleviate trauma symptoms. Also important is the need for family therapy or relationship counseling. Your symptoms are most likely affecting those who love you. Seeking treatment with them can benefit both of you.
If you scored between sixty-one and eighty points, you are dealing with overwhelming post-trauma symptoms. In addition, you have a secondary mental health disorder such as depression or addiction.
You may be experiencing mood swings that can range from being tearful to uncontrollable crying. You may be using drugs or alcohol on a regular basis, even daily, to cope with your symptoms. Unfortunately, substances such as these only exacerbate your symptoms. You may also be having severe panic attacks that require medical attention.
You are not likely able to function in a job. You probably are having difficulty keeping up with your household chores.
Your actions towards your friends and family can seem unfair and harsh. You find yourself lashing out at them and acting irrationally around them. They may have even distanced themselves from you to prevent being hurt. You know you need help but you don’t know where to start. You may even be afraid that there is no one who can help you. There is good news.
Both of your disorders can be resolved with the help of a mental health counselor. In fact, getting help for both disorders at the same time is how to get the maximum benefits. Your counselor can connect you with a Psychiatrist who can provide medication to help ease your symptoms. You may need medication for a long-term period but this is much better than living without them.
Intensive counseling in the beginning can offer you much needed support. It can also help you rebuild relationships, get sober, and teach you both coping and life skills that can help you become functioning again. Over time, your counseling will become less intensive and focus more on maintaining your good mental health.
If you scored between eighty-one and one hundred points, you are most likely feeling completely out of control. Your symptoms are consuming your life and making it hard for you to function in daily activities. You may not even be able to leave the house due to your anxiety. Using substances to cope has become extremely excessive, to the point that the substance abuse is life threatening.
Your family and friends are scared for your life. They are worried you may harm yourself. You have even had thoughts of suicide or tried and failed. You may be neglecting your physical health. Every reaction you have is intense. Instead of feeling mad you feel rage. Instead of feeling nervous you have a severe panic attack.
You may be feeling like you have hit rock bottom.
This is the perfect time to get help. Working with a team of trauma specialists is what you need to begin your treatment. You deserve the most intensive of treatment programs. This may include inpatient treatment to start and then move into intensive outpatient care. Medication is a huge help, especially in the beginning, to help you focus less on your symptoms and more on your treatment.
Because the trauma you experienced happened over an extended period, the treatment you receive should happen over an extended period. Healing cannot happen overnight. All areas of your life need long-term, intensive treatment to help you regain your abilities to lead a healthy lifestyle. Your treatment should include your family, friends and anyone else who is affected by your symptoms.
You deserve this level of treatment because you deserve a happy life. You did not cause the trauma that happened to you. You had no control over it. But you do have control over how you move forward with your life and how you deal with the effects of the trauma.
Take control of your recovery and healing. Reach out today for help!