Traumatic Stress vs. PTSD

In Anxiety, Blog by Celine Redfield4 Comments

Trauma, PTSD and PTS- Inner Growth Therapy- Celine Elise AlvarezTrauma is a buzz word these days. Many people state that they have been traumatized by specific situations in their lives. So what is traumatic stress? And how is it different than PTSD? What causes PTSD, and what are the symptoms? This month of June is National Post Traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) awareness month. In this article we will talk about what is trauma and what is PTSD:

What is a Traumatic Experience?

Trauma is emotional suffering caused by a a severely distressing event where the person experiences: bodily harm (physical assault, rape, sexual assault, car accident), witnesses violence,  a threat of your own life, witnesses a person dying, some kind of natural disaster, psychological harm. Immediately after the event, shock and denial are typical.  This is a normal response to a perceived threat to your life. This is considered Post Traumatic Stress or (PTS).

Having the following symptoms after a traumatic event are common:

  • your heart may race
  • hands shake
  • you may sweat or feel afraid and nervous
  • you might avoid or be cautious of engaging in that activity again
  • you may have nightmares about the event you just experienced
  • you may feel nervous in a situation that reminds you of the unpleasant event.
So what leads to trauma to become PTSD?

It is the 30 days after a specific trauma that determine whether or not a person develops PTSD. According to the DSM 5: a person with PSTD has to have the 5 following symptoms that last at lease 3o days after a traumatic event:

Behavioral: agitation, irritability, hostility, hypervigilance, self-destructive behavior, or social isolation
Psychological: flashback, fear, severe anxiety, or mistrust
Mood: loss of interest or pleasure in activities, guilt, or loneliness
Sleep: insomnia or nightmares
Also common: emotional detachment or unwanted thoughts
So what is the difference between PTS and PTSD?

When someone is traumatized by a single event they will usually have PTS for several days or up to a month. When people have had multiple traumas that they have not processed or gotten help with, they are more likely to get PTSD or CPTSD (Complex PTSD). It is the person’s ability to cope with the traumatic event that can help determine whether or not they develop PTSD. It is so important that that person feels supported, seen, and their trauma is understood and validated by a person that they trust or a trained professional.

“Don’t assume I am mentally week because I have PTSD. I am strong because I have survived.” ~ Riley Lee

How does Trauma effect the body?

Unresolved trauma is stored in the body. In the work of Bessel van der Kolk in his classic Trauma therapy book, The Body Keeps Score, he talks about the fact that trauma often lives non-verbally in the body and brain. Trauma, that is unaddressed, transforms into physical symptoms frequently. Chronic pain can be linked to trauma. Check out this diagram that was created by Janina Fischer about the symptoms of trauma: Traumatic Events by Janina Fisher - Inner Growth Therapy- Celine Elise Alvarez


Trauma and PTSD can be healed!

The good news is that PTS and PTSD can be healed! The person who has been traumatized just has to be willing to work on their trauma. This can be the tricky part, since one of the symptoms is avoidance. Being a trauma survivor myself, I can say that if you are willing to invest the time and money into healing, it is worth every dollar, tear, and uncomfortable bodily sensation. When you face your trauma and make peace with it,  you can be free again. 

“My past has not defined me, destroyed me, deterred me, or defeated me; it has only strengthened me.”~ Steve Maraboli

Check out my another article to help you with healthy coping skills for PTSD.

Next week I will be talking about how PTSD and Traumatic Stress can be helped by Art therapy and then the following week how EFT can help.

What healing techniques have helped you to heal your PTS and PTSD? Comment below!

Want help with trauma recovery now? Please feel free to contact me:  or 323.5152278 to schedule an appointment or a free 15 minute consultation.

Until next time, may you feel peace, may you feel loved, and may you feel safe.

Have a blessed week,

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