Trauma and PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a concept that many people first become familiar with by hearing about how soldiers experience it following war or conflict, or when hearing about people having been attacked in the street.
Much of the public discourse around PTSD still revolves around military experiences, however PTSD and trauma is not confined to one event or type of person. Our trauma psychologists in Newcastle often work with people that have experienced a range of difficulties that have left a traumatic mark on their lives.
There are also several other myths about trauma – some are more common than others, however it is important that those that have experienced a trauma or PTSD have the right information so that they can get the best help available.
Let’s explore the most prevalent myths around PTSD.
Myth #1: Only Soldiers get PTSD
While the psychological effects of war and military life is difficult, trauma and PTSD is not restricted to just soldiers, or in fact, those experiencing war.
Our trauma counsellors and trauma psychologists in Newcastle often see people that have experienced stress and anxiety, loss and bereavement, and single instance or repeated trauma such as physical and sexual attacks, robbery, violence or difficulties when growing up. Similarly, trauma counsellors often work with soldiers that find adjustment to military life difficult.
Trauma can be any experience that leads to a person feeling overwhelm and problems processing their experiences. Trauma and PTSD can affect anyone and be related to single instances or repeated instances from the past – whether a long time ago or more recent.
Myth #2: PTSD is a Sign of Weakness
Following on from the misconception that only certain types of suffering is valid, phrases such as “man up”, “pull yourself together”, or “You should be able to deal with it” might be heard when people talk about their difficulties.
Similarly, it is not uncommon for our trauma psychologists in Newcastle to hear people telling themselves these same thoughts, adding an extra level of shame and self-criticism to the way they feel.
Viewing trauma and PTSD as a sign of weakness ignores the scientific evidence that trauma changes the way our brain functions, and that following such events, people may be living in a state of ‘fight or flight’ as their stress hormones are elevated beyond ordinary levels.
As the sufferer’s brain goes into “survival mode”, there can be hypervigilance and increased alertness towards perceived threats. Similarly, certain events might “trigger” feelings of anxiety or even cause reliving, nightmares and intrusive thoughts.
While the idea of “being triggered” has been co-opted as a pejorative term on social media, it is simply a by-product of the brain re-experiencing distressing thoughts and feelings related to past events and experience.
Myth #3: PTSD will Eventually Go Away By Itself
People experiencing symptoms of PTSD may find themselves avoiding certain people, places, or events in order to not trigger symptoms. For some people however, the effects of trauma and PTSD do not resolve by themselves over time and so those with PTSD or trauma find themselves restricted in their activities.
While reprocessing traumatic memories and experiences is important, this has to be done at a pace that can be tolerated. Going too fast too soon with “exposure therapy” can cause too much distress and so therapy has to be adjusted to the individual’s pace.
The good news is that our team of counsellors, therapists and trauma psychologists in Newcastle are experienced and skilled in a range pf proven therapies for trauma and PTSD, including Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR).
If you would like to discuss your situation to see whether our trauma psychologists or trauma counsellors in Newcastle can help you deal with any problems you are experiencing, whether face to face or online via Skype, Zoom, Facetime or WhatsApp video, contact us using the box below or call us on 07966 645 198.
Dr Stuart Sadler
Lead Clinical Psychologist