Blog: Articles on Psychological Wellbeing, Relationships, Brain Health, Counselling and Neurofeedback

Welcome to the blog of Sojourn Counselling and Neurofeedback. Articles posted here are written by our clinical staff and relate to services we offer or conditions we address. We hope they will be helpful to you in some way, whether you're considering counselling for yourself or someone else, gathering information on a mental health related issue, or just want to find out more about who we are and what we do.

Healing From PTSD

The pain of trauma

Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can seem like a nightmare. The symptoms of PTSD can be triggered by even the slightest of stimuli. Although it is most commonly associated with military veterans PTSD is much more common and can result from a variety of stressful life circumstances.

Some estimates indicate that at least 2.2 million Americans are living with PTSD; and since the diagnosis had first been defined in 1980, viable treatments have evolved to help sufferers on the road to recovery.

Causes of PTSD
PTSD occurs in people who have experienced or had a loved one experience a single, or series of traumatic events - catastrophic experiences which overwhelm one’s capacity to adapt. The definition of trauma has been modified since the introduction of PTSD into the manual of psychological diagnosis, to include not just external stressful events but the subjective, internal responses to these stressors. It is important to note that almost everyone who experiences rape, genocide, torture, and severe war stress develops PTSD.

Some of the more common situations that give rise to PTSD include:
Military service - specially soldiers deployed in combat,
Living in a war torn country,
Motor vehicle accidents,
Diagnosis of a terminal or serious illness,
Experiencing child abuse or neglect,
Sexual assault,
Physical assault or violence,
Natural disasters, like hurricanes, earthquakes, and flooding,
Man-made disasters,
Watching someone die.

These incidents cause both emotional and physical distress and can take a psychological toll, leading to the development of PTSD. In some cases, it is a loved one who has experienced this trauma, yet it is also common for the witness to develop PTSD because of the attachment to such a person.

Anxiety, depression, and substance abuse disorders also increase the risks of developing post traumatic stress disorder. If the underlying conditions have not been diagnosed, the emotional toll of the trauma can serve to worsen mental health, potentiating the development of the condition.

Signs of PTSD
The signs and symptoms of PTSD can be particularly distressing for both the victims and their loved ones. Many experience a state of hyper-awareness, where even the subtlest of smells, sounds and images related to the traumatic incident can trigger intense reactions.

If you or your loved one has a history of trauma and experience any of the following symptoms, please consider consulting a licensed clinician for PTSD assessment and treatment:

Flashbacks and Reliving Trauma
Triggers, like sounds, smells or sight, can cause sufferers to have recurrent flashbacks to the traumatic event. This causes them to regularly revisit, relive, and dwell on the emotionally distressing experience.

Panic attacks are common. These are characterized as episodes of intense fear and feelings of imminent death, accompanied by intense heart-rate, excessive sweating, and numbness.

The feeling of numbness and indifference to activities and events that excited you in the past, sleeping too much or too little, significant changes in diet, social withdrawal, increased irritation, reckless behaviour, feeling helpless and hopeless, and difficulty concentrating.

Actively avoiding any place, person or event that reminds you of the trauma you experienced.

Insomnia and Trouble Sleeping
Going asleep may be hard, or nearly impossible, due to the elevated stress level caused by PTSD. And when asleep, nightmares and night terrors, usually related to the traumatic event, can lead to a restless night.

Guilt and Shame
Traumatic events may leave sufferers believing themselves to have been responsible for what happened to them. They may also begin to define themselves by the event - that they are bad or reprehensible because of it.

Physical symptoms: headaches, muscular cramps or tension, excessive sweating

Treating PTSD
Post traumatic stress disorder can be treated and successfully managed to improve quality of life. PTSD is usually treated with either psychotherapy, or medication, and in some cases, a combination of both. Psychotherapy involves talking to a counsellor who will employ a number of proven techniques to help you come to terms with the trauma you may have experienced. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is often employed to help develop skills to manage responses to triggers. During the initial phase of therapy, one of our therapists will help you select the treatment best suited to your condition.

We at Sojourn Counselling and Neurofeedback are well-trained and experienced in evidence-based treatments for PTSD such as:
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR),
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) / Exposure Therapy,
- Observed and Experiential Integration (OEI) Therapy,
- Neurofeedback.

Is PTSD Recovery Possible?
While it is impossible to erase the events of the past, recovery from PTSD is possible. The hardest part of the process can often be seeking help. Please know that there are trained professionals at Sojourn who are dedicated to helping you work through your current suffering. With proper treatment, a better sense of agency and fulfillment is possible. Set up an appointment today and let us help you on your path to healing.

If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident and have an open claim with the Insurance Company of British Columbia (ICBC), you may be eligible for subsidized counselling. Check with your ICBC adjustor or lawyer and contact us to book your first appointment. If you have been suffering from the effects of trauma resulting from witnessing criminal activity, our therapists are registered with Crime Victims BC to offer subsidized counselling.

Sojourn serves the Greater Vancouver area and the Fraser Valley including Surrey, Langley, Cloverdale, South Surrey, White Rock, Burnaby, East Vancouver, Downtown, North Vancouver and West Vancouver from our offices in Surrey and North Vancouver. Bookyour appointment with us today.



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