Undertstanding your response to trauma (part 7 of 8)
- If your intrusive symptoms (e.g., flashbacks, sleep disturbance, nightmares, startle responses) are especially disruptive, or, if you are really struggling with anxiety or depression, consult your family physician or a psychiatrist about whether medication may be useful.
- Consider joining a support group if an appropriate choice is available. Your doctor or a mental health agency may be able to direct you to an appropriate group or internet web site. If no group is available, you may find it useful to make individual contact with someone who has survived a similar experience.
- At some point in your recovery, it may feel important for you to revisit the scene of the traumatic event or to make contact with certain symbols of the trauma. It may be important for you to seek further information about the event, (e.g., talking with witnesses, reading news stories or police reports, or contacting other authorities for details about the event or its aftermath). Don’t rush into this. You may find this easier if you ask a loved one to accompany you. Others may feel that you are needlessly torturing yourself; but, sometimes details, however terrible, provide relief. If in doubt, seek a consultation before proceeding.
- Take time to learn and practice muscle relaxation, imagery and breathing skills to help calm yourself. Consult the references noted below or seek assistance from an expert who can help you develop such skills.
- If your symptoms are especially upsetting or especially persistent, you may decide to seek professional help.
- Do not assume that all mental health professionals understand post-traumatic responses and appropriate treatment. If you need a referral, discuss it with your family physician to see if there are special resources in your community, (e.g., experts in trauma response, rape crisis centers, domestic violence clinics), call the psychology or psychiatry department of the nearest university medical center, or go online to Anxiety Disorders Association of America. Search for treatment specialized for post-traumatic responses. (cont…..on page 8 of 8)