Understanding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

When a person suffers a loss, he or she experiences grief, which is the natural and unique response to a loss. This is expected. However, when the loss was more than the person could handle, it can become a trauma, and this is when PTSD could develop. We often hear the term PTSD but at times this may be difficult to understand. What is it in reality?
According to Glenn Schiraldi, millions of people suffer from PTSD and it may develop when one is exposed to traumatic events. The symptoms range from suffering from flashbacks, anxiety, anger, sexual problems, nightmares, to emotional numbness.

PTSD can develop after any of these situations, to name a few:
• Domestic violence
• Tragic death of a loved one
• Rape
• Accident
• Personal assault
• War

When a person has been exposed to any of these situations and is presenting any of the symptoms mentioned above, is important to pay attention. Many people suffer in silence, not knowing how to deal with PTSD, others are able to receive proper treatment and learn skills on how to cope on a daily basis. Many books have been written about this issue because it can be debilitating, it may destroy lives, families, and society at large.

Fortunately, there are different techniques to heal from trauma. I found the book , The Body Keeps the Score, fascinating, at it provides novel approaches to heal trauma. Dr. Van der Kolk states that to help trauma victims to heal, besides telling the story, it is important for the body to learn that the original danger is no longer there. The body needs to learn to live in the now. Being a firm believer of the body-mind-spirit connection, I found his ideas of recovering oneself extremely meaningful:

The challenge of recovery is to reestablish ownership of your body and your mind-of yourself. This means feeling free to know what you know and to feel what you feel without becoming overwhelmed, enraged, ashamed, or collapsed. For most people this involves (1) finding a way to become calm and focused, (2) learning to maintain that calm in response to images, thoughts, sounds, or physical sensations that remind you of the past, (3) finding a way to be fully alive in the present and engaged with the people around you, (4) not having to keep secrets from yourself, including secrets about the ways that you have managed to survive (pp, 203-204).

One of the most helpful techniques I use when working with stressed out people is guided meditation, mindfulness, and visualization. Furthermore, many studies have shown the positive effect of meditation on veterans to manage their stress or depression (2). We can all learn new ways to be relaxed and focused.

This way we can live a happier and calmer life.

This way we can live a happier and calmer life.


1. Schiraldi, Glenn. The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook: A Guide to Healing, Recovery, and Growth 2nd EditionVan der Kolk Bessel, MD. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

2. Vogel, Steve. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/va-testing-whether-meditation-can-help-treat-ptsd/2012/05/03/gIQAL940zT_story.html

Author: Ligia M. Houben, MA, CGC, CPC, FT, ChT is the founder of The Center for Transforming Lives in Miami, Fl. Where she offers private consultation, guided meditation classes and personal growth workshops.



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