Trauma can complicate mental health treatment

Many people suffer from traumatic stress reactions at some point in life. Although trauma affects everyone differently, a majority of people exposed to traumatic events display symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Apart from causing initial reactions, such as sadness, anxiety, dissociation, agitation, confusion and physical arousal, trauma can complicate the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders.

Often, a therapist has to delve deep into the many layers before identifying the root cause of a mental disorder. However, in many instances, what is construed as a mental disorder is actually the sign of trauma. Unfortunately, many people experience trauma at a very young age and therefore face difficulties in regulating normal emotions like anger, sadness, shame, and anxiety. The most common traumatic events include war, sexual or physical abuse, school violence and bullying behavior, parental neglect, natural calamities, death or of a loved one or any other such event or experience that could cause long-lasting emotional pain.

It is important to control the emotional dysregulation associated with trauma and seek immediate medical help in case someone has an underlying mental health condition. Moreover, treatment of a mental health issue should take into account any preexisting traumatic condition that could be causing, exacerbating or deteriorating the mental disorder.

Traumatic reactions may indicate underlying mental disorders

Often traumas are hidden deep and it takes firm questioning by a therapist or a psychiatrist to arrive at the root cause of the hidden psychotic ailment. For instance, in case of major depressive disorder (MDD), it is seen that symptoms such as self-injurious behavior, social isolation, inactivity, numbing and insomnia bear a resemblance with the symptoms of trauma. When it comes to anxiety disorders, the existence of hypervigilance, increase in startled reactions to a negative stimulus and hyper arousal are some of the common symptoms that have a close similarity with one’s reaction to traumatic episodes.

What is commonly perceived to be the symptom of oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) in children could be the result of a past traumatic incident. Childhood trauma can have a devastating effect on the psychological development of a child. A child who has been exposed to violence or trauma in utero or during early childhood will have altered brain development leading to maladaptive behaviors throughout his or her lifetime.

It has been found that PTSD can act as a trigger for delusions or hallucinations and mood disorder (depression or bipolar disorder), apart from causing other devastating effects. Trauma can also exacerbate many physical illnesses, especially the autoimmune diseases like arthritis and asthma.

There is a symbiotic relationship between trauma and anxiety. A traumatic event in the past could be the precursor to a generalized anxiety disorder in adulthood. Even social anxiety may be triggered by a traumatic event experienced during childhood. It is vital for a therapist to delve into the psyche of a person suffering from a mental disorder and eliminate any existing disorders before finalizing a treatment.

Road to recovery

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified mental health disorders as the leading cause of disability globally. Struggling with such a condition can be challenging for most individuals. A one-size-fits all approach is, therefore, not viable but it is essential to know the signs and seek a therapist as the first line of treatment. Self-regulation through therapy and resilience development can alter the perception of the affected who often consider themselves guilty.

Seeking out treatment for any psychological stress is paramount to living a productive and healthy life. Take the first step toward a joyful life and call the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline today. Chat online or call our 24/7 helpline number 855-653-8178 to know about the mental health services and mental health counseling programs near you.