Addressing Past Trauma: Do You Need to Seek Help?
Published On: April 10, 2017|Categories: Mental Health, Trauma|

how to heal from past trauma, when to seek help for trauma, therapy for trauma, and benefits of therapy for trauma

Many people face terrible events in their lives, and sometimes our emotional reaction to them lingers long after we might expect. If you’re struggling with the aftermath of a terrifying or difficult incident and have been unable to recover and continue with normal relationships or daily tasks, you may be affected by past trauma.

In this article, we’ll explain how to determine when to seek help for trauma, the steps to healing and the benefits of therapy for trauma.

Understanding trauma and its impact

The American Psychological Association defines trauma as an emotional response to a terrible event. There are a wide variety of events that can be considered trauma, and trauma can occur once or over a period of time.

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual assault
  • Witnessing acts of violence
  • A vehicle accident
  • A natural disaster
  • Bullying
  • Witnessing a shooting
  • A sudden or dramatic death
  • Combat experience
  • Medical trauma

Every person’s response to trauma will differ, and some people who live through the same event may be less impact than others. When a person lives through a traumatic experience, he or she may be in shock or denial, feel constantly on edge and live in extreme fear.

The impact of trauma can affect all parts of a person’s life and cause distress emotionally, physically, spiritually and psychologically. Sometimes, an experience of trauma will trigger the onset of PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder. This mental health condition is characterized by anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares, avoidance behaviors, negative changes in mood and difficulty in relationships.

When to seek help for trauma

It’s normal for a terrible event to result in an emotional reaction. In fact, it may even be worrisome if a person lives through a severe or dangerous circumstance with no emotional response. However, when the emotional repercussions of a terrible incident don’t at least begin to subside after several weeks or months, it may be an indication to reach out for help with managing symptoms.

Knowing when to seek help for trauma is a hard question to answer, though. The correct method of action is largely dependent on the type of event, the amount of time that has passed since the trauma and the gravity of the symptoms that have manifested.

The best way to determine whether you require intervention for trauma or PTSD is through a professional assessment. An assessment will look for the following signs of PTSD and behavior changes, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Signs of PTSD

  • Intrusive memories
    • Distressing memories of the trauma
    • Reliving the event as if it were happening again
    • Upsetting nightmares about the event
    • Emotional distress when reminded of the event
  • Avoidance behaviors
    • Taking extreme measures to avoid thinking about the event
    • Refusing to talk about the event
  • Negative changes in thinking and mood
    • Hopelessness
    • Trouble remembering things
    • Feeling detached
    • Struggling to maintain relationships
    • Decreased interest in things that used to be enjoyable
    • Difficulty being happy
    • Feeling numb
  • Changes in your physical and emotional state
    • Being easily startled
    • Being on guard
    • Sleep and appetite changes
    • Trouble concentrating
    • Irritability or anger
    • Guilt or shame

If a past trauma is causing unreasonable difficulty or strain in your life, you may be facing PTSD. If you identify with any of the above behaviors, it’s a sign to seek help for trauma.

How to heal from past trauma

Healing from trauma isn’t an easy or overnight process, but with the right treatment over time, anyone’s outcomes can improve. The best method for how to heal from past trauma is through professional treatment, medication and lifestyle changes.

Therapy for trauma

Therapy is the main method of professional treatment for PTSD recovery. Therapy for trauma is delivered via psychotherapy, or talk therapy and focuses on teaching skills to manage symptoms like intrusive memories, mood changes and avoidance behaviors. In therapy, you’ll also learn how to recognize and reverse negative or destructive thought patterns.

When a person has PTSD, it can feel like he isn’t in control of his thoughts and behaviors. Therapy for trauma puts you back in command so you don’t feel like you’re living out of fear anymore. When symptoms of trauma arise, you’ll have the knowledge and tools you need to cope.


Medication isn’t always part of a trauma treatment regimen, but it can be helpful for some, especially if symptoms of anxiety and depression are co-occurring. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, sertraline and paroxetine can be prescribed.

Lifestyle changes

Like any mental health condition, treatment requires some lifestyle changes outside of therapy, too. These can include focus areas like nutrition, sleep habits, exercise and self-care.

Benefits of therapy for trauma

Once you begin professional treatment, you can expect to be enjoying the following benefits of therapy for trauma.

  • Reduced symptoms of PTSD
  • A repertoire of effective coping skills
  • Ease in managing triggers to re-living trauma
  • Decreased avoidance behaviors and the ability to lead a normal life without interference
  • Healthier relationships
  • Decreased stress and anxiety
  • Improved mood
  • Improved concentration
  • Healthier sleep patterns (decreased nightmares and insomnia)
  • Less fear in daily life
  • Better communication
  • The ability to plan things for the future and experience hope
  • A treatment plan that includes mental health and personal goals
  • Connection to emotional support through your care team

If you’re suffering from the effects of trauma, you can recover with the right help. Therapy gives you the tools you need so that you can live a more joyous and satisfying life. High Focus Treatment Centers can help you access all the benefits of therapy for trauma. The sooner you reach out, the sooner you’ll see results and enjoy peace in your life again.

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