An American Addiction Centers Resource
About AAC

How to Find Help Treating a Trauma-Related Problem

Trauma is how the mind responds to mental injury. Mental trauma involves painful feelings and frightening thoughts invoked by witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event. While most people process and deal with these feelings after a short time, some people are unable to do so.

Understanding Trauma

The belief is that greater harm is done when a person is more directly exposed to traumatic experiences. Secondhand exposure can also be traumatic, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIHM). Trauma-inducing events might include witnessing death, a natural disaster or violence. Understanding trauma might be easier if you try to imagine a loved one involved in a violent situation or being injured. The fear such an image invokes is the type of fear a victim of a traumatic experience might feel on a regular basis.

How to Diagnose a Person in Trauma

The strong feelings brought on by trauma can cause extreme behavior. Sleep disturbance, withdrawal, detachment, hyper-vigilance, flashbacks, nightmares, and feelings of intense helplessness and fear are some of the symptoms endured by a victim of trauma. When these symptoms persist for more than a few weeks, they are considered a sign of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

How to diagnose a person in trauma involves visiting a psychiatrist or other doctor who is experienced with mental illnesses. The doctor can diagnose PTSD after talking with the patient. According to the NIMH, a prerequisite of being diagnosed with PTSD is that a patient must experience the following for more than one month:

How to Recognize Personal Crises

If you notice signs of avoidance or hyperarousal symptoms, it is a good indication that the person is suffering from trauma. How to recognize personal crises can be easier if you familiarize yourself with these symptoms.

The NIMH also states that hyperarousal symptoms include having angry outbursts or difficulty sleeping. If you notice the person is easily startled or seems tense, those are also signs of hyperarousal. Although avoidance symptoms are not as overt, you may observe them in someone you are close to. Have you noticed the person avoiding reminders of the traumatic experience, such as avoiding places, objects or events? Do they seem fretful, depressed or wracked with guilt? You may notice the person has lost interest in what used to be enjoyable activities. These are all symptoms of PTSD.

Steps You Can Take to Help Someone in Trauma

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs is a great resource for steps you can take to help someone in trauma. In fact, until recently little was known about the disorder. It was by treating US veterans for PTSD that new insight was finally gained.

The first step is to learn all you can about PTSD. The second step is challenging your beliefs. Helping someone in trauma takes time, patience, and the understanding that PTSD is very real and can have a serious effect on a person’s life. Step three is to explore your options. Download PTSD assessments, look into therapy for your friend or ask someone else who is dealing with a similar situation for advice. The final step is to reach out by talking to your friend or by raising awareness about the disorder.

You’ve already begun to help just by coming here, and we’d love to supply you with the information you need about PTSD and treatment options. Contact us 24/7 at .

Talking to Someone With Trauma-Related Problems

The National Institutes of Mental Health offers helpful advice on talking to someone about trauma-related problems. When you talk to your friend or relative, be sure to listen attentively. Listen to the feelings your friend or relative is trying to convey. Offer encouragement for the person to seek counseling and to get well. Extend your emotional support, patience and understanding. Remind your friend or relative that treatment and time will help with healing.

Adolescents and Teens

Whereas smaller children react to trauma differently from adults, adolescents and teens tend to show the same symptoms. However, in addition to adult symptoms, adolescents and teens sometimes feel guilty about not preventing deaths or injuries and may harbor vengeful thoughts. They might display destructive, disruptive or disrespectful behavior. It’s important to seek assistance from those with experience treating adolescents and teens.

Learning to Cope After Trauma

The Department of Veterans Affairs states that taking direct action when dealing with stress puts you in a position of power and makes you feel less helpless. Actively coping occurs when you directly act to improve the things in your life that the trauma has negatively affected. Just by responding to your everyday life, you are engaging in active coping.

Remember that it takes time to recover and that ongoing response to trauma is normal. You are not forgetting the traumatic experience, but healing means having fewer symptoms that affect you less. You are getting stronger every day and, eventually, you will be able to manage your feelings and deal with your memories.

You are not alone. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, in a given year, approximately 5.2 million people suffer from PTSD. Approximately 7 to 8 percent of the population will have the disorder at some time. We’re here to help you take action. Please, feel free to contact us at to discuss your options.

How to Treat Trauma-Related Issues

Medication and psychotherapy are used to treat trauma-related issues. The Mayo Clinic suggests various medications used for the treatment of PTSD.

Psychotherapy is available for PTSD in the form of cognitive therapy, which helps you recognize negative thinking patterns and consequent actions in order to change those patterns. Exposure therapy helps you learn to cope by allowing you to face your fears in a safe way. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) combines eye movements that aid you in processing traumatic memories with exposure therapy.

Deciding Between Trauma Resolution Options

Your psychiatrist will be trained to help you personalize your trauma treatment plan. You can decide between trauma resolution options by working closely with your doctor to find a treatment plan that is best for you. Tell the doctor your concerns, give them your medical history and ask questions if you are unsure about a particular treatment. Discuss the side effects of medications with your spouse or family. Together, you may decide there are certain side effects you do not want to risk having. Relay this information to your doctor.

Your therapy will depend upon what you believe you will respond to. Perhaps exposure therapy seems too extreme, or you do not feel the need for cognitive therapy. Your doctor can clarify any misconceptions and veer away from anything that makes you feel insecure. Keep in mind that you have options. You can always take part in choosing your course of treatment.

Where to Find Trauma Treatment for a Friend or Family Member

If you believe a friend or family member is in imminent danger due to traumatic stress, tell someone right away. Dial 911 or call your doctor. Ensure your friend or family member is not left alone.

If the situation is less dire, you can still contact hospitals or your doctor for advice. Check with local mental health facilities or support groups. You may call us for information about PTSD or where to find trauma treatment for a friend or family member. We are here 24/7 to assist you with your needs. Please contact us at .