Trauma and Stressor Related Disorder Treatment
Before we look at Trauma and stressor related treatment, it’s probably helpful to understand what Trauma and Stressor Related Disorders are.
What are Trauma and Stressor Related Disorders?
Trauma and stressor related disorders are a group of emotional and behavioural problems / psychiatric disorders that arise following a stressful or traumatic event. These disorders often present similarly to other psychiatric disorders, like anxiety and depression; however, the presence of a ‘trigger’ event is required to confirm a diagnosis. Trauma and stressor related disorders share many common features; because of this, it’s important to understand the nature of the trigger event and the timing between the trigger event and symptom occurrence.
Trauma and stressor-related disorders include:
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is one of the most well-known trauma disorders. Individuals develop PTSD following a traumatic event. While it’s common for initial symptoms to begin in the days following a traumatic event, symptoms can even start to surface months later. PTSD symptoms include persistent, frightening thoughts and memories or flashbacks of a traumatic event or events. Behaviour changes include jumpiness, sleep problems, problems in school, avoidance of certain places or situations, depression, headaches or stomach pains. Cognitive disturbances like irritability, negative thoughts about self or others and fear.
Acute stress disorder (ASD)
ASD is an unpleasant and intense reaction that develops in the weeks following a traumatic event. Typically, symptoms last for one month or less. If symptoms persist beyond one month, individuals are considered to have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Prompt treatment can reduce the risk of ASD developing into PTSD. ASD symptoms include chest pain, heart pounding, difficulty breathing, headache, sweating, stomach pain and nausea. As well as some physiological symptoms that you typically see with PTSD, including sleep disturbance, inability to focus, irritable or negative moods, avoidance of people or places, dazedness, difficulty remembering the event and intrusive thoughts.
Adjustment Disorder is a stress-related condition where unhealthy or unhelpful reactions to stressful event/s occur. More stress is shown than would typically be expected in response to a stressful or unexpected event. Adjustment Disorders affect how you think and feel about yourself and the world and may also affect your actions or behaviour. Symptoms depend on the adjustment disorder and can vary from person to person. Some examples include Feeling sad, hopeless, Frequent crying, Worrying or feeling anxious, nervous, jittery or stressed out, Trouble sleeping, Lack of appetite, difficulty concentrating, Feeling overwhelmed, avoidance, and suicidal thoughts or behaviour.
Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Generalised Anxiety Disorder is marked by excessive, exaggerated anxiety and worry about everyday life events for no apparent reason. People with generalised anxiety disorder tend always to expect disaster and can’t stop worrying about health, money, family, work, or school. Daily life becomes a constant state of fear, worry, and dread. Eventually, anxiety can even dominate a person’s thinking so much that they find it hard to function. Symptoms include impaired memory, sleep disturbance, muscle tension and fatigue.
Major Depressive Disorder (MMD)
Major Depressive Disorder is when someone experiences persistent and intense feelings of sadness for extended periods. MDD is also called clinical depression, a significant medical condition affecting many areas of your life. It impacts mood, behaviour, and various physical functions such as appetite and sleep.
What are Trauma and Stressor Related Disorders Treatment?
Like all mental health illnesses, several different therapy options support the treatment of trauma and stressor related disorders. Like all things in life, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to therapy and treatment; most important is how you resonate with each treatment.
To help, here is a rundown of some treatment options, both well-known and emerging. What are they, and how can they help?
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy uses a patient’s own rapid, rhythmic eye movements to lessen the power of emotional memories from past traumatic events. EMDR uses an eight-phase treatment approach, where therapy involves attention to three time periods: the past, present, and future. Focus is given to past disturbing memories, related events, and current situations that cause distress. EMDR tackles the root of your most stressful situations or negative beliefs, helping you process the intensity of your emotions. This process enables you to shift your attention to more positive, adaptive thoughts, which will naturally reduce your anxiety levels.
Light Brainwave Entrainment
Light Brainwave Entrainment helps awaken, synchronise and balance the brain by using high-frequency LED light. This light recalibrates brain activity, triggering a desired brainwave state. Simply put, brainwave entrainment pushes the entire brain into a particular state, adjusting or interrupting the brain’s response to certain situations. Essentially reprogramming how your brain processes and responds. Brainwave Entrainment supports healing for many mental health and happiness-related challenges, including stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, chronic fatigue and PTSD. Brainwave Entrainment is a simple yet effective way to lead your mind into states you might usually find difficult to reach, allowing you to experience what those states feel like.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is a ‘talking therapy’ available to treat mental health issues by addressing problematic or unhelpful thought patterns. The idea behind CBT is that certain beliefs or feelings you have about yourself or situations in your life can lead to distress. Focus is applied to your present state of mind without necessarily focusing on finding the causes of your problems. For Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder/Trauma, Cognitive Therapy often is used alongside exposure therapy.
Prolonged Exposure Therapy
Prolonged Exposure Therapy is a form of psychotherapy for post-traumatic stress disorder. After a traumatic event, people can experience unwanted thoughts and feelings, disturbing nightmares, depression and hypervigilance. If you experience any of these symptoms, you understandably want to avoid them as they remind you of the trauma. The goal of prolonged exposure therapy is to gradually help you re-engage with life, especially with things you have been avoiding, making memories of the events less fearful. Patients safely talk about their traumas with therapists and listen to recordings of their trauma narratives in between sessions. Doing so will strengthen your ability to distinguish safety from danger and decrease your PTSD symptoms.
Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)
Cognitive Processing Therapy is a cognitive behavioural treatment focused on helping people who are “stuck” in their thoughts about a traumatic event. CPT is based on the idea that trauma symptoms stem from a conflict between pre-trauma and post-trauma beliefs about the self and world. These conflicts are called “stuck points” and are addressed through various techniques, such as writing about the traumatic event.
In conclusion, there are various treatment options available to support the reduction of Trauma and Stressor Related Disorders symptoms. Each has its own benefits and merits, but what’s right for you can only be determined by you. Do your research and continue to try different treatments or therapies until something resonates.