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Trauma can change a person’s life. It is important to recognize the effects of trauma on your life and know that there therapy can help you. A traumatic experience may last for a single moment or for months, but the effects of trauma can continue for years. Without proper treatment, you might struggle with anxiety, anger, depression, substance abuse or other mental disorders created by trauma.

How Can You Recognize Trauma?

Traumatic experiences can negatively impact your physical and emotional health. When you endure trauma, your body can react in a number of ways, both physically and emotionally.

Guilt, depression, anxiety, vivid memories of the experience and shame may be some of the emotional effects of trauma. None of these symptoms are unusual, but they should not be ignored. If you do not address these signs of trauma, you may be hampering your ability to live a full, healthy life.

Trauma also produces physical symptoms like insomnia, nightmares and physical aches. Physical reactions to trauma can include sweating, shaking, nausea or increased heart rate. These physical symptoms may range from mildly frustrating to debilitating, but the impact they may have on your life is undeniable.

When taken by themselves, not all of these symptoms indicate trauma, but if you are experiencing a number of them, you may wish to speak with a therapist to determine if you are suffering from post-traumatic stress.

What Therapies Can Treat Trauma?

Once your trauma has been identified, you can begin receiving treatment. There are several therapy options for treating trauma, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) and group therapy. No single therapy works for every person because people engage trauma differently. However, any of these therapies may be a good option for you to discuss with your therapist.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on determining how your thoughts influence your behaviors. By analyzing your thought processes, you and your therapist can discover ways to reduce the occurrence of negative behaviors and encourage positive activities.

CBT tends to be more cooperative. Your therapist will ask leading questions and attempt to guide you to an understanding of the unconscious thoughts that lead to negative behaviors in your life. Once those negative thoughts have been identified, you can begin to correct them by learning skills that will help you cope with the negative thoughts that affect your life.

EMDR is a newer therapy that can be used to treat trauma and other mental disorders. EMDR involves repeated rapid eye movements or other forms of stimulation, like tapping on your hand or musical tones, to reduce the emotional impact of trauma.

When you undergo EMDR treatment, your therapist will have you focus on the traumatic memory you struggle with. While you focus on that event, you will also focus on their fingers as they move them, close your eyes and listen to the tones or feel the tap of their hand on your own. Your therapist will repeat this process a few times and then ask you to rate your feelings about the trauma on a scale. This desensitization continues until you are able to rate your feelings close to zero.

Reprocessing follows the same pattern, but instead you focus on positive thoughts while following the finger movements or other methods. After you can rate your belief in the positive feelings close to ten, you can move on to another trauma or negative thought for desensitization.

Group therapy involves meeting with a therapist and several other people who are also seeking to overcome trauma. Not only do you interact with the therapist, but you also engage and learn from the others who have their own traumatic experiences. In this way, you may learn new skills for coping with your trauma.

What Comes After Therapy?

Treating trauma can take time, but with work and determination, you may be able to overcome your trauma. The feelings associated with a trauma may never leave you, but with treatment, you can learn to cope with them and not let them rule your life.

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Treating Trauma, Part 2: Therapy Options
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