Trauma and Stress-Related Disorders

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Effective Treatment and Symptom Management for Trauma- and Stress-Related Disorders

Most people will experience trauma or significant stress in their lifetime whether it’s a car accident, abuse or neglect, the sudden death of a loved one, a violent criminal act, exposure to the violence of war, or a natural disaster.

While many people can recover from trauma and stress over time with social support from family and friends and personal resiliency, others can experience severe, and in some cases, lasting negative effects of trauma. Trauma- and stress-related disorders include reactive attachment disorder (RAD), disinhibited social engagement disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), acute stress disorder, and adjustment disorders. Each of these disorders can cause significant distress, including deep emotional pain, fear, confusion, or posttraumatic stress.

Trauma Symptoms

The DSM-5 classifies four groups of trauma symptoms.

Avoidance Symptoms

  • Avoiding specific locations, sights, situations, and sounds that serve as reminders of the event
  • Anxiety, depression, numbness, or guilt

Re-experiencing Symptoms

  • Intrusive thoughts, nightmares, or flashbacks

Hyperarousal Symptoms

  • Anger, irritability, and hypervigilance
  • Aggressive, reckless behavior, including self-harm
  • Sleep disturbances

Negative Mood and Cognition Symptoms

  • Loss of interest in activities that were once considered enjoyable
  • Difficulty remembering details of the distressing event
  • Change in habits or behavior since the trauma

If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms related to trauma or significant stress, we can discuss several different options that have shown effectiveness in reducing trauma and stress-related symptoms. 

Effective Treatment

Research has shown psychotherapy to be the most effective treatment for trauma and stress-related disorders. However, there are a variety of medications with growing support for helping people with symptom management while undergoing therapy. While a variety of therapies exist for treating trauma, we specialize in the following three evidence-based therapies that can help individuals recover from trauma:

  • Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) – CPT is a gold standard treatment for PTSD and other trauma-related diagnoses with substantial scientific evidence for helping people recover from trauma. This modality focuses on how a person's thoughts and beliefs have been changed by their trauma. A CPT therapist helps their client work through stuck points, which are certain thoughts related to the trauma that prevents the person from recovering. 
  • Prolonged Exposure (PE) – PE is another gold standard treatment for treating PTSD and other trauma-related diagnoses with a large volume of scientific support. PE is a form of brief cognitive behavioral therapy and an extension of emotional processing theory that uses exposure techniques to help people process their trauma. A PE therapist helps a trauma survivor process the emotions of their trauma to attenuate their trauma-related symptoms.
  • Trauma-Focused Acceptance Commitment Therapy (TFACT) – TFACT is a promising treatment for trauma-related diagnoses that is gaining empirical support in research. TFACT is a compassionate, exposure-based approach to using acceptance commitment therapy to help people recover from trauma. In this modality, the therapist helps clients to open up and accept what has happened, remain present when distress related to the trauma is activated, and move forward with a value-based life through committed action. TFACT can be used as a stand-alone treatment for trauma but can also be combined with other evidence-based therapies, such as CPT.

If you or someone you know matches the trauma and stress-related symptoms listed above, please consider contacting us to schedule a session or a free consultation.