Treatments and When to Seek Help

After experiencing a traumatic event, the last thing most people want to do is revisit the circumstances that remind them of what happened. But for those who develop mental health conditions from trauma, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), acute stress disorder (ASD), and depression, returning to those circumstances under the guidance of a therapist may help in the recovery process.

Psychological trauma is an emotional response to a terrible, life-altering or potentially life-threatening event, such as a serious accident, assault, or natural disaster, according to the American Psychological Association (APA). And many people can experience a variety of intense physical and mental symptoms following such an event — people may feel fearful, agitated, or numb, and have difficulty sleeping, concentrating, or remembering aspects of the trauma, among other concerns, notes the National Institutes of Health.

These feelings are all part of a natural reaction that, for many people, subsides within a few weeks or months of the incident, but other people may feel stuck in feelings such as guilt or fear that the world will never be safe again, says Arianna Galligher, licensed independent social worker supervisor, an associate director of the STAR Trauma Recovery Center and director of Gabbe Health and Well-Being Program at The Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus.

A variety of therapies exist to help people suffering from the lingering effects of a traumatic event, and most treatment options, Galligher says, involve helping patients reprocess and reconceptualize what happened so they can live fulfilling lives in the future.

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