According to the American Psychological Association, trauma is the human body’s response to a horrifying event such as an accident, escaping a crime attack, natural disasters. A person may also feel traumatized when victimized for a considerable time due to domestic violence, bullying, child abuse, etc. Imagine that near-death experience of a car crash that took away the life of your best friend. Such terrible episodes cause the human brain to either deny the occurrence of a horrific event or indulge in the feeling of shock, terror, or fear. Psychological trauma can cause anxiety, depression, or even insomnia. At times, individuals also experience other symptoms like nausea and loss of appetite.
Many people with severe mental health issues avoid seeking help from therapists due to several reasons such as inadequate insights, fear of being misjudged, lack of awareness, distrust, etc. Undoubtedly, the role of mental health is critical for a person’s overall wellbeing. Given the rise in the rate of mental health issues and their impact on society, several sectors are now hiring mental experts to deal with various issues. The role of forensic psychologists is one such example. These individuals are responsible for helping criminals in dealing with their mental health issues. They further work to protect individual rights and ensure individual wellbeing by applying psychological concepts to various legal matters. Considering the significance and demand of these experts, many universities now offer an online forensic psychology degree to provide psychology assessments to legal findings.
Several studies suggest that not seeking professional help significantly affects patients and their families. In this article, we’ve discussed some ways mental health professionals can help their patients.
Psychiatrists treat patients suffering from severe mental illnesses such as severe depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc., through medications depending on the severity of the illness and the symptoms exhibited by the patient. Mental health counselors and therapists have different roles to perform. For example, only a psychiatrist is licensed to prescribe medications. In contrast, a psychologist is responsible for treating patients with behavioral issues such as anxiety, depression, learning difficulties. Their treatment methods involve social and emotional techniques to solve complex behavioral conditions.
Most of the trauma symptoms are caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. Trauma causes an individual’s fight or flight response to go into overdrive. It is why patients dealing with post-trauma symptoms constantly feel panic and on edge.
With the help of the right medications, it is possible to treat deteriorating mental health conditions. It can further help with extreme trauma symptoms such as bad dreams and flashbacks. There is nothing that a patient with PTSD wants more than feeling motivated and leading a normal life.
Most of the therapy sessions that psychologists perform fall under Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). These sessions aim to condition the mind to fight the symptoms of trauma or mental health issues which include memory problems, nightmares, severe emotional distress, overwhelming guilt or shame, etc. The therapist trains the victim or patient to cope with these symptoms and deal with the trauma to bring their old self back with confidence and positivity.
Therapy sessions often involve discussions where the psychologist tries to understand the current situation of the victim and the events that trigger the symptoms. CBT offers specific exercises that train individuals to learn to fight the symptoms of trauma. It further trains their mind to fight back in recurrence of panic and anxiety attacks.
Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)
Cognitive Processing Therapy is a type of CBT. It is extremely effective in dealing with patients who have gone through highly traumatic experiences such as sexual assault. The treatment process involves the patient discussing the traumatic event with the therapist. In other words, CBT allows patients to unwind their thoughts that have stuck to their minds. A patient is further asked to pen down each detail of the event and read it again and again during and after the session. This step lets you see through all details and understand how the event is affecting your brain. CPT commonly stretches up to 12 weeks, with one session happening each week.
Later, the therapist tries to help you see the events with another perspective, possibly one that makes you feel more safe and positive. And that is the whole objective of CPT, i.e., to condition your mind into changing the perspective and believing that the event does not affect you negatively anymore. It helps you accept the things that are not under your control. It is a way to aid victims in making peace with their trauma and moving forward to live happier healthier lives.
Stress Inoculation Training
This treatment provides the victim with training on managing and controlling anxiety and fear when experiencing a trigger. Like a vaccine that prepares your body to fight against a disease that may enter your body, SIT helps your mind prepare for dealing with trauma symptoms. Some of SIT’s techniques include deep breathing, muscle relaxation training, changing negative behaviors, counseling yourself, or positive self-talk.
Prolonged Exposure Therapy
Our mind functions to protect us. Thus, it shuts off any bad memories that make us suffer. Blocking out the traumatic events is the most common way for victims to cope with their situation. However, it is not a proper solution. Unless you address the underlying issue, the patient will continue to suffer.
Prolonged Exposure Therapy can be of great help under such situations. It aims to expose the victim to all the memories they have been blocking. At first, the therapist will teach you how to calm yourself through the trauma symptoms. Later, they will ask you to pen down all the painful memories you have been blocking one by one. The therapist then trains you to make peace with each memory and face them wholeheartedly rather than avoiding them.
Dealing with trauma symptoms can be life-threatening. It generally drains your physical and mental energy and can make you feel helpless and unconfident. Seeking help from professionals at the right time is critical to help you heal and live a normal life. Mental health is vital for your overall wellbeing. If you’ve been dealing with mental health issues, we recommend you seek professional help immediately. Mental health counselors and therapists are highly trained professionals who know their way around patient cases.