Taking Control of Trauma: Understanding PTSD and EMDR.

For many individuals, traumas can have lasting and seemingly uncontrollable effects on our personal, social and working lives. The human mind usually processes and allows the effects of trauma to fade over time, for many of us the journey to recovery can last longer. One of the common and currently most talked about effects of these traumas is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.  PTSD is the re-experiencing of a traumatic event or events. PTSD is caused by life threatening events or the witnessing life-threatening events, sometimes called “big T’s”. With today’s research, we now also know that many more events- even if they are considered less traumatic- have the similar impact and are referred to as “little T’s”.

If you think about important events in your past, such as the first day on a job, or a first date, you can vaguely recall your excitement and feeling almost “beside yourself”. Yet now when you look back, you may smile at the memory of those experiences, but they do not overwhelm you as if you were there. They are fond memories, adding to the story of who you are.

Some traumas don’t process this way. They get stuck in the part of the brain that controls fight, flight or freeze instincts. Everyday reminders become triggers and continuously create the feelings of the original trauma.  These triggers can even escalate and become something to fear as well. It is not clear why traumas get stuck and cause PTSD and other symptoms, but what it is clear that methods such as EMDR can have a dramatic impact on clearing these stuck traumas and allow normal processing.  EMDR helps the brain process the memory and move on, just as they do with pleasant memories. They may be less than fond memories, but with the use of EMDR they lose their impact.

Here at South Denver Psychotherapy, we use EMDR for many of our patients to help with PTSD and other conditions. We love that we get to help our clients on their paths to healthier, happier and better lives.

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