When to Worry: Recognizing Signs of Trauma in Your Loved Ones

When to Worry: Recognizing Signs of Trauma in Your Loved Ones

Over the past several years, there have been numerous traumatic events making news all across the country. From incidents of mass violence to devastating natural disasters, hundreds of thousands of Americans have experienced or witnessed a disastrous or life-threatening event. In addition to tragedies such as these, anyone who has experienced a shocking or dangerous incident (such as a car accident, a robbery, an act of violence, or sexual abuse) is at risk of developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

PTSD is a serious mental disorder that requires medical treatment. PTSD can have devastating effects on every aspect of a person’s life, from their marriage and family, to their friendships and career. If you’re concerned that a loved one may be suffering from PTSD, here are some signs to look out for.

Reliving the Trauma

Someone with PTSD have repeated, involuntary re-experiences of the event or intrusive thoughts about it. They may experience bad dreams or flashbacks. They’re also vulnerable to certain triggers that remind them of what happened, such as sounds or smells.

Angry Outbursts

Someone silently suffering from trauma may be prone to anger, agitation, or sadness. Feeling irritable, the sufferer may be prone to outbursts of anger that they can’t control. If you’ve noticed your loved one frequently losing control and lashing out in anger, this is a sign that they’re suffering emotionally and require treatment.

Withdrawal

People suffering from PTSD will avoid people and situations that are reminders of the situation. As the victim continues to isolate themselves, how their friends and family react to their withdrawal will likely further isolate them, causing additional emotional distress.

Numbing

It’s not uncommon for people with PTSD to self-medicate, seeking an escape from high levels of stress and difficult emotions. Some may keep themselves so busy they don’t have time to think or feel. Others might numb with food or sleep. Others turn to drugs or alcohol, which leads to risk of addiction. The painful trademark of substance abuse is the growing need for more of the drug to produce the same high. If left untreated, as substance abuse grows, the abuse will turn to addiction and eventually dependence. This can have devastating effects on every facet of a person’s life.

 

If you’re concerned that a loved one is experiencing symptoms of trauma, the most important think you can do is encourage them to seek professional diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible. Assure them of your support throughout the process.

For additional guidance and recommendations from a licensed professional, call our office today. We have licensed counselors available to help with trauma processing, including counselors that use evidenced-based approaches such as EMDR and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Trauma.

6 Reasons Why Yoga Might Be the Missing Link in Your Mental Health Toolkit

6 Reasons Why Yoga Might Be the Missing Link in Your Mental Health Toolkit

We invited our friend, Eve Parker at Simply Yoga, to share this guest blog, which provides information about the positive impact of yoga on a person’s mental health and overall wellness.  After reading the article, if you’d like more information about Simply Yoga, we encourage you to visit their website to learn more about the work they’re doing in the Vancouver, WA community.

 

Yoga postures, breathwork, and meditation can support mental health – from daily stress, frustration, and sadness to clinical anxiety, depression, and trauma so that you, your loved ones, and those you serve can benefit from a holistic practice to feel better. Yoga can be a powerful adjunct to traditional mental health treatments like psychotherapy and medication, but shouldn’t be used as a replacement for those interventions. 

 

  1. Yoga can help us find balance in our nervous systems. 

When our nervous systems get out of whack, we might find ourselves stuck too revved up (hyperarousal or fight-or-flight) or not able to get our engine going (hypoarousal or shut down). 

 

If we’re feeling too low energy, depleted, lethargic, sluggish, or depressed we can do certain movements, poses, and breathing techniques to increase our energy. Try yoga poses that are standing, backbends, side bends, and flowing, faster movements. Try breathing with a longer inhale and try turning the lights on brighter or putting energizing music on. Studio classes in this category might be Vinyasa or Hatha. 

 

If we’re feeling high energy, stressed, anxious, rushed, flighty, or irritable we can do different things to bring that energy down. Try seated poses or ones on the back, forward bends and twists at a slow pace or even held for a few minutes. Try making the exhale longer and dim the lights or put on calming music. Studio classes to look for include Yin, Restorative, and Gentle. 

 

  1. Yoga can improve brain functioning and overall daily functioning. 

When we moderate and calm our breathing, this sends signals to our brain to lower cortisol and adrenaline – two hormones present when we are stressed or anxious – slowing the heart rate, reducing blood pressure, improving sleep, and improving digestion. 

 

Yoga and other mindfulness practices help improve attention, memory, and emotional resilience. We spend a lot of time moving through the world without paying much attention to the details or embodying our own bodies. Mindfulness practice, or paying attention fully to the present moment and present experience without judging it, helps us become aware of what is really happening in the present moment. This helps us find response instead of reaction by taking a breath and reflecting on what is going on around us. 

 

  1. Yoga helps trauma survivors. 

Yoga has been found to be more effective than some more traditional talk therapies at supporting trauma survivors. Oftentimes when we experience a trauma that hits us hard, we might have feelings of dissociation like we don’t quite fit in our bodies or the world around us. Or we might feel like we are reliving events from the past. Yoga can help us bring ourselves back into our bodies and into the here and now. Grounding techniques in which we draw attention to our feet as we stand or our legs as we sit help us to feel present. We can practice this in our yoga postures and throughout the day.

 

  1. Yoga builds reconnection to the self and improves self-worth. 

Yoga can help us prioritize self-care, carving out that hour of time that is just for us so that we can go back to doing the awesome things that we do with more energy to give. As we gain flexibility, strength, and endurance to get through difficult classes, poses, and days, we might find ourselves feeling more confident not just on the mat but off it. We might even feel greater appreciation and acceptance of our bodies for being able to take us through yoga classes. 

 

As we gain more awareness of how our bodies feel when we practice yoga, we might start to prioritize other things that make us feel good in our bodies like improving sleep, eating healthfully, and putting down the stress of work, family, friends, and life when we prioritize self-care. 

 

  1. Yoga comes with a community. 

Whether you’re practicing with a video or in a studio, you’re practicing with others, a global community of people just like you, seeking wellness in their lives. Interconnectedness and compassion promote healing on all levels. When we breathe and move in unison with others, our nervous systems start to coregulate and attune to each other. In a society of so much running around and doing and trying to obtain, spending some time to be in harmony with others is crucial. For those who feel disconnected from self and others, coming to the studio and seeing the same familiar faces week to week can help build that missing support and connectedness. 

 

  1. Yoga might be the thing to make us feel more whole. 

The word “yoga” derives from the Sanskrit word “yuj” meaning “to yoke” or “union.” This union can mean many things, but for me it means bringing together all parts of the self that have been fragmented – the physical body and its sensations, the breath, the mind and its thoughts, the emotions, and the spirit or soul that makes each of us alive and vibrant and unique. When we move our bodies and breath together in unison, these elements start to come together and many people start to say they feel more aligned with themselves, more relaxed, more balanced, or like they’re coming home. 

 

 

We want you to have the best success on your yoga journey and we’re here to answer any questions you have. We would love to direct you to the perfect class for your needs, experience, and background. Please email us at Simply Yoga and we’ll get you started on your wellness journey. 

 

 

Simply Yoga is a non-profit yoga studio and wellness center in Salmon Creek WA offering classes in a variety of styles and times of the day to suit all needs and ages (we even have kids yoga classes!). Using a wide umbrella of mental health awareness, our mission is to implement mindfulness and movement practices that are inclusive to all populations and income levels, with an increased focus on programs available for our children, youth, and first responders. We offer several donation-based classes as well so you never need worry about whether you can afford to come. We want everybody to experience yoga. Find out more and sign up for a class at SimplyYogaCenter.org

Eve Parker, LICSW, RYT-200 is a mental health therapist and yoga instructor in Vancouver WA, bringing 7 years experience in the mental health field to her yoga and mindfulness teaching. She is dedicated to bridging the gap between therapies for mind and body to treat mental illness, addictions, and trauma from a holistic standpoint. Eve values cultivating a safe, trauma-informed space in which consent is paramount, making classes accessible to each student’s individual anatomy through empowering students to learn and listen to their bodies and through creative use of props and cues. You can find out more about her at EveParkerWellness.com.

You Are Not Alone: Finding Support as a Male Sexual Abuse Survivor

You Are Not Alone: Finding Support as a Male Sexual Abuse Survivor

On an almost daily basis we hear stories of female sexual harassment and abuse in the media. Sadly, male sexual abuse is fairly common, but the issue is under-reported by the media and society in general.

One US-based study found that 1 in 6 boys experience some form of sexual abuse by the age of 18. Other research suggests the ratio may be as high as 1 in 4.

Why is this conduct not reported more often?

To start, most men are embarrassed to be the victim of sexual abuse, particularly when it is perpetrated by other men. In our culture, men are supposed to be invulnerable and not feel emotional pain. In other words, guys are supposed to be the strong, silent type. It simply goes against the silent rules of being a man to acknowledge trauma and admit that you are suffering.

As a result, male victims of sexual abuse shove their feelings down and deny what happened. This repression of experience and emotion can and often does lead to isolation, anger, sadness, shame, guilt, and fear. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), major depression, anxiety, and substance abuse are also common among victims of male sexual abuse.

It’s important to get help.

If you are the victim of sexual abuse, understand that you are far from alone. As the topic becomes more mainstream, there is less judgement by those who don’t understand how a man could be victimized in such a way. Education regarding male sexual abuse and demystifying misconceptions surrounding rape is essential to help male survivors heal and speak out.

While more needs to be done to bring this subject to mass awareness, it’s important that individual victims seek support. A therapist will be able to help you deal with your complex emotions and offer strategies to move through and past feelings of depression and anxiety. In time, healing can and does occur.

We have trauma counseling specialists available.

If you or someone you know is a male victim of sexual abuse and would like to discuss treatment options, please get in touch. A counselor from our team would be more than happy to help. We have two counselors available with an EMDR specialty and one who is a certified IATP Clinical Trauma Professional.

 

When to Worry: Recognizing Signs of Trauma in Your Loved Ones

When to Worry: Recognizing Signs of Trauma in Your Loved Ones

Over the past several years, there have been numerous traumatic events making news all across the country. From incidents of mass violence to devastating natural disasters, hundreds of thousands of Americans have experienced or witnessed a disastrous or...

All about EMDR as Trauma Therapy

All about EMDR as Trauma Therapy

Have you heard of EMDR? Among therapists, it’s all the rage as an up-and-coming, evidenced based approach for trauma treatment. Because it is different than standard talk therapy, we thought you might have some questions. We’d love to help demystify EMDR as a form of trauma treatment.

 

What is EMDR?

Standing for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, EMDR is a specialized kind of therapy that allows traumatic memories to become desensitized, losing some of their emotional intensity. EMDR is an 8 step process. That process does NOT begin with the trauma processing itself. Instead, the therapist ensures that you have a stockpile of effective coping skills and resources to aid you in the trauma processing experience prior to beginning any sort of trauma processing. The goal throughout the therapy is to provide relief to trauma triggers and not to re-traumatize you in the re-telling of experiences. Only once a clear plan has been developed and coping skills are in place will the therapist guide you through the re-processing experience. Re-processing often involves specialized eye movements that the therapists guides you through while you simultaneously access a specific traumatic memory or severe fear. The two elements use both halves of your brain to more effectively neutralize the negative emotions and desensitizing the memory. The goal of EMDR is not to erase the memory, it’s to reprogram it so that it’s less traumatic.

 

What conditions can EMDR help with?

There are a lot of different situations in which EMDR can be helpful, making it popular for therapists and counselors around the world. It is best known for helping those clients who are recovering from a traumatic experience or those diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). However, research is indicating that EMDR may also be helpful with conditions such as anxiety/panic disorders, grief, severe fears or phobias, and even “common” problems such as self-esteem issues or anger issues.

 

How is it helpful with trauma?

There are a lot of ways the EMDR can be helpful to dealing with trauma. This specific kind of therapy can not only help someone heal from a trauma experience, but also improve their quality of life. For example, EMDR can be helpful with:

  • Identifying the root memory: One key step in the EMDR process is uncovering where the trauma comes from, which can be helpful in understand when, where, and how it started.
  • Processing the memory in a healthy way: EMDR is all about seeing the memory from a different point of view in terms of making it less traumatic and overwhelming. This perspective shifting plays a major role in the healing process.
  • Improving your quality of life:  EMDR tends to be helpful in reducing trauma triggers and reducing the impacts of trauma in your life.

 

What are the risks of EMDR therapy?

EMDR does not come without potential risks. Though EMDR tends to be gentle and stress-reducing, there is a potential risk of an increase in flashbacks, nightmares, or anxiety, usually in the short-term. Other memories may also resurface as trauma processing starts up that may be distressing. If you are in recovery from an addiction, EMDR processing may trigger feelings that, in the past, may have lead to a relapse. If you are a person in recovery (or actively use substances to cope with feelings), this will be something you should disclose to your therapist.

The EMDR therapists on the Star Meadow Counseling team will fully review the risks and benefits of EMDR therapy with you in helping determine if it is a therapeutic approach that might be a fit for you.

EMDR can offer real results for people dealing with trauma. For those looking for options alternative to traditional talk therapy, this may just be the right fit.

 

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