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Prestera Center: Everyone experiences traumatic events differently

Mar. 15, 2013 @ 12:11 PM

According to the US DHHS Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “Individual trauma results from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being” (see www.samhsa.gov).

Experiencing something terrible and scary, or a traumatic event, is very common. Traumatic events include a single-episode trauma where you are exposed to one event. Examples include the unexpected loss of a loved one, divorce, a serious motor vehicle accident, being a victim of crime or surviving a fire, flood, tornado or other natural disaster.  

In the most extreme form, traumatic events can also include exposure to multiple traumatic events over time. Examples include multiple incidences of childhood abuse that could be verbal abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse and/or sexual abuse, domestic violence or active combat military duty.

The nature of the traumatic event, the circumstances, our own ideas about the event and our responses define the event as traumatic. Chances are good that we all have or we will have survived something traumatic in our lifetime.   

An interesting fact about trauma is that different people may experience similar traumatic events very differently. What is traumatic for one person may not be considered traumatic to another. Different people can assign different meanings to traumatic events. For example, some who have lost personal belongings in a house fire may be overwhelmed by losing irreplaceable items while others may focus on no loss of life and seem more optimistic about moving forward. Some people are able to move forward with their lives and others seem to stay “stuck.”

Long lasting effects of the traumatic event can be linked to a number of factors, including fewer life-coping skills, pessimistic outlook, fewer social supports, age and past experience.    

Effects of trauma vary from individual to individual. Generally, the more severe the traumatic event and the more frequently the trauma occurred, the more severe the effect on the individual.

People with the best coping skills and social support can experience negative effects from traumatic events. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or “PTSD” is a mental health problem that can result from experiencing a traumatic event. It’s normal to experience stress after experiencing a traumatic event. PTSD occurs when the stress of the traumatic event does not resolve or improve over time and continues to interfere with enjoying life. PTSD symptoms can include nightmares about the traumatic event, flashbacks of the traumatic event, thoughts about the traumatic event that intrude into daily life unexpectedly, feeling constantly anxious, nervous or on edge, upsetting or surprising easily and losing track of time. When any of these symptoms interfere with being able to do things people want or need to do or interfere with enjoying life, it is time to consider seeking professional help.    

PTSD and other anxiety disorders respond very well to counseling and therapy. Through professional help, symptoms can be managed, minimized or even eliminated. A professional counselor or therapist helps people understand the problem and develop better coping skills and strategies for troublesome symptoms. Symptoms can be relieved by learning to identify when they start and through techniques like practicing relaxation. It may or may not be necessary to discuss traumatic events in detail and re-tell them.

Education about PTSD along with identifying and managing symptoms may offer enough relief that people can return to normal activities again. In cases where the traumatic events are severe and repeated, more in-depth therapy may be necessary to restore happiness and improve daily functioning. However intense the treatment, the important point is that PTSD and other anxiety problems are easily treatable with counseling and therapy, so there is no reason to suffer with the symptoms.  

Prestera Center provides counseling and therapy services for PTSD and other anxiety disorders for adults and children.  The mission of Prestera Center is to help people achieve their full potential.  

Prestera Center offers Putnam County residents access to effective professional mental health and addictions treatment services in Winfield and Hurricane. Offices in Winfield are located at 3389 Winfield Road, Suite 8, on the grounds of the Courthouse Complex. Professionals are available to see new people, answer questions, provide services to children, adolescents and families, adults with depression or anxiety or more severe mental health problems or anyone with addiction or substance abuse problems. The Winfield location is taking new clients by appointment at 304-586-0670.  Walk-ins are welcome Monday through Friday between 8 and 9 a.m.  

Offices in Hurricane are called “Hopewell” and are located at 3772 Teays Valley Road, Suite #2. The Hopewell offices specialize in serving adults with insurance in need of addiction treatment, medication assisted addiction treatment and mental health problems like depression and anxiety or more severe mental health problems. The Hopewell offices in Hurricane is also accepting new clients and scheduling appointments by phoning 304-757-8475.   

Kim Miller is the director of Corporate Development at Prestera. She can be reached at kim.miller@prestera.org.