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By Katie Bailey, MA, LPC

Most often when people think of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, they think of public shootings, hurricanes, war veterans and rape victims. Absolutely, anyone who has experienced any of these situations could struggle with PTSD. However, more common events like childhood sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse (often from a narcissist family member), loss of a loved one, a car accident, and even having a new baby can sometimes be traumatic. If you’ve had an overwhelming stressful event, but you’ve tried to down play it in your mind, give yourself permission to truly see the impact that experience is having on your life. How do you know if you need PTSD therapy?

Signs of PTSD

Reoccurring, intrusive thoughts. All of my PTSD clients have negative thoughts about themselves and others playing on repeat in their minds. For someone with a past of sexual abuse, these thoughts are most often a variation of these:

  • Something is wrong with me, I guess I deserved it.
  • It’s my fault, I caused that person to hurt me.
  • People aren’t trustworthy or safe. I’m going to stay far away from everyone.
  • I’m damaged now. No one will love me.
  • My body felt good during that experience, so I guess I liked it. It can’t be abuse then.
  • Everything is always my fault.

Shame. Abuse survivors commonly blame themselves. This grows into a deep-rooted sense of shame – that they are unlovable, unworthy, broken, and damaged. It’s turning all the responsibility of the abuse inward and heaping it on themselves. PTSD therapy can help you shift your perspective and help you let go of beliefs that are lies.

Difficulty having positive emotions. People with PTSD may not be able to find joy in anything. If your traumatic event was an ongoing situation, such as regular childhood abuse, you might not be able to remember enjoying anything, ever. If nothing ever seems fun, you are always down, and lack motivation to do anything you used to enjoy, PTSD might be a problem for you.

Isolation from others. When someone has violated you in a traumatic way, it changes how you see the world. You start to think that everyone is going to hurt you, no one is safe, and so you pull away from everyone. Truth is, humans aren’t meant to live life alone. Trauma disrupts your ability to have healthy relationships. PTSD Treatment can help you learn to reconnect with people and enjoy support from others.

Difficulty sleeping. Trauma interrupts sleep. It could be that you can’t fall asleep, stay asleep, or you have nightmares. When our brain is overwhelmed, it can’t rest. PTSD counseling can help you on two levels. First, you can learn new skills to practically help you improve sleep. Second, in PTSD therapy you can work on the deeper impact of your trauma, and find healing that will change your experience of life. Check out this blog post to learn more about sleeping better with PTSD.

Hypervigilance. Typically, when we are younger, we think we are invincible. The really bad things won’t happen to ME. Then, WHAM, something terrifying does happen, and now you are always on alert for the next terrible thing. This is hypervigilance. When someone shuts a door and the sound makes you jump, afraid it’s a threat, that’s a sign of PTSD.

How Will PTSD Treatment Help Me?

Making the call to start therapy can be scary. Especially if you have never told your trauma story to anyone before now. If you’re even thinking about PTSD counseling, it’s worth that call. An experienced trauma therapist will make you feel safe and won’t pressure you to tell more of your story than you’re ready to share. Once you start to speak your story, you’ll soon realize the benefit of not holding it in anymore. A trauma counselor can help you make connections between how you think about the events, how you feel about yourself and others, and how that impacts your behaviors. You will gain new clarity into yourself, and find freedom from all the heavy shame you’ve been carrying around with you.

Sometimes at Lime Tree Counseling, Katie uses EMDR. Learn more about how EMDR helps relieve trauma. For some clients, EMDR might be the right approach to shift perspective on the overwhelming events and find healing.

Start PTSD Treatment in Lower Gwynedd, PA

Our therapists are experts in PTSD recovery. We consider it a privilege to be safe people to hear your painful stories and walk with you through healing. We also know it can happen, because we’ve done it with other people. We’ve experienced it. If you think you have PTSD, please contact us today to set up an appointment. We do this work to help people like you find freedom. Don’t live isolated. You are not damaged goods. We would love to help you work towards healing.

If you are not in the Montgomery County, PA area, we also offer online sessions for residents of Pennsylvania. Contact us for a free consult to see if online counseling would be a good fit for you.