Trauma and PTSD

Trauma is neither a disease nor a disorder, but rather a psychological, physiological and emotional injury caused by paralyzing fright, helplessness or loss.  Researchers have known for decades that survivors of accidents, wars, disaster, rape, assaults and childhood trauma often endure life-long symptoms ranging from anxiety and depression to unexplained physical pain and harmful acting-out behaviors.  

Events become traumatic when they overwhelm the resources of an individuals ability to cope effectively with the event.  Traumatic events induce feelings of terror, helplessness, confusion and loss in survivors.  It is not uncommon for trauma survivors to experience symptoms such as nightmares, flashbacks, intense emotions or none at all, and feelings of being flooded or overwhelmed.  Survivors of trauma often attempt to avoid being exposed or “triggered” by any kind of reminder of the traumatic event.  These symptoms may diminish after several weeks but in some cases, the symptoms do not go away with the passing of years or decades.  These clients have developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Regardless of what caused the trauma, the experience with all of its original beliefs, emotions and sensations is stored in the “survival” area of the brain known as the limbic system.  This is an ancient part of the brain responsible for our fight, flight, freeze or collapse responses in order to ensure our survival.  What our brain perceives to be a danger is more important than whether a threat is real or not. It is in this way, that childhood relational trauma such as neglect, abandonment and enmeshment will be stored in the brain the same way as actual threats to survival.

Unresolved trauma and unhealed wounds can lead to depression, anxiety, rage, isolation, low self-esteem, over-reactivity, nightmares and poor social functioning. I am trained in EMDR for the treatment of PTSD and childhood trauma and will integrate EMDR in to therapy if and when it is appropriate for clients. EMDR does not merely treat the symptoms of trauma but accesses the traumatically-stored memories at their origin. Talk therapy alone, is usually insufficient to solve these problems. EMDR can be used as an adjunct therapy if you are working with another therapist. Nearly all individuals who participate in EMDR therapy report greater general wellness and significant decreases in trauma-related symptoms. It is important to remember that you are not your trauma and that trauma can be transformed in to healing and growth with the help of a well-trained clinician.

Seth A. Weinstein, LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor
Specializing in Addictions, Trauma and Codependency