Guest Author: Lori Larson, a marriage and family therapist at Windows To My Soul, shares some timely information on how ordinary people may have PTSD from past trauma, and how old traumatic events may be re-surfacing and impacting daily life in unexpected ways.
With all that has been going on in the County over the past 3 months, both with COVID-19 and the recent protests and riots, it is no surprise to me as a trauma-focused therapist of 20 plus years that post-trauma symptoms (PTS) are showing up everywhere.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been around for centuries but was traditionally thought of as a disorder mostly associated with Veterans and First Responders. This is simply not the case.
At Windows To My Soul and in my private practice, I have seen a staggering increase in the number of people struggling with anxiety, depression, relationship issues, sleep disturbance, etc. Most concerning of all is that suicidal ideation and attempts have also increased dramatically over the past three months. Many of the same individuals have had previous post-trauma symptoms and/or a PTSD diagnosis. Both can include anxiety, difficulty with connections and regulation, and may include nightmares and other physical problems.
This has been very difficult to witness. Many people are feeling afraid and hopeless. It is no surprise that this COVID-19 pandemic existential crisis is retriggering past traumatic events. Our ability to make sense of what is going on is limited because our brains are wired for protection and are in fight or flight mode. We cannot think our way through any of this because of a biological response that occurs when threat is real or perceived like it is in our world right now.
It is no wonder we are irritable, tired, moody, angry, forgetful, can’t think clearly, just to name a few. Our ability to logically reason and problem solve comes from the higher regions of the brain. We cannot access that in a crisis unless we find a way to regulate (calm the survival part of our brain) in order to use neuropathways that access all parts of the brain in an integrated way. But how is this possible, you might ask?
The first step is identifying that we are in crisis and that old traumatic events are likely to re-surface. The second step is to find a way to stay calm using rhythmic-patterned sensory input. This could be as simple as rocking, walking, clapping, breathwork, or even petting an animal, as long as it is rhythmic. Once we can do that, we are essentially turning our alarm system off. Then we are in a better place to feel, connect with ourselves, connect with others, and to make decisions.
At Windows To My Soul, we work with individual clients and groups to first understand what is happening in their brains so that they can take action and regain control of their emotions and their lives.
Are you or a loved one in need of help? Please learn more on our services page.