Common Myths of Trauma and PTSD
Common Myths of Trauma and PTSD
This is the first in a series of articles to help normalize different mental health concerns.
A simple definition of trauma is that of being a psychological injury. Appropriately, it is a relatively broad definition. Trauma takes many forms and affects people in a variety of ways. The purpose of this article is to dispel myths and misunderstanding about PTSD and trauma.
- PTSD is not exclusively a disorder for war Veterans. One does not have to be on the planet for very long to understand that horrors are experienced every day, sometimes in our own backyards.
- If someone is diagnosed with PTSD, it is not a matter of strength or weakness. There are real things going on in the brain that can not be controlled by pure will. Sometimes PTSD is compound. Sometimes someone’s background makes it easier for PTSD to take hold of the brain. Sometimes a person’s inability to act in a time of fear and horror causes PTSD.
- PTSD is not a comprehensive diagnosis of trauma related disorders. Anxiety, depression, OCD, phobia, addictions, personality disorders and many more can all be a result of the affects of trauma on the brain.
- Trauma is a brain injury, but that injury can occur as a result of things not commonly thought of as “trauma”. When many people think of trauma, they think of war, rape, violence, physical or sexual abuse. The trauma that is often missed is the childhood instances of neglect, poverty and chaos. In fact, there is data to support that children who suffer from neglect have higher instances of substance abuse and other maladaptive behaviors than those who were not neglected.
- It is not as simple as “just get over it” or “put the past in the past”. There are real, biological things going on the the brain. Brain scans done on traumatized people vs non traumatized people show that the animal portion of the brain is disproportionately large at times. What this accounts for is the logic portion of our brains are not fully in charge. Also, trauma gets “stuck” in the animal portion of the brain and the logical brain and animal brain are not properly communicating, making our over active animal brain incapable of making you feel safe in the presence of a perceived threat. Meaning, we may feel fear, anxiety, depression or some other yucky feeling and have no idea why.
- Trauma counseling is not something reserved for “crazy people” and it is not a sign of weakness when someone seeks counseling. It takes more strength to seek help than it does to fight (or deny) the demons on your own.
Counselors today have more tools than ever to help those suffering from trauma related problems. One good tool for a trauma therapist is training in a therapy called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). It is an evidence based treatment with a much better outcome than traditional talk therapy. If someone is not a good candidate for EMDR, there are many other ways to get that trauma processed properly and effectively.
At Authentic Connections Counseling, there are therapists trained in EMDR. Call today for a free consultation to see if EMDR is for you. Even if it is not, all our therapists can offer a safe space to work with trauma and PTSD.