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Living with Trauma and PTSD

Living With PTSD Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD affects millions of people around the globe. Some people recover quickly, while others cope with it for many years. There are many ways to experience PTSD, but people often have nightmares, flashbacks to the original trauma, difficulty coping with daily tasks, and other physical symptoms such as […]

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How to Meet with A Therapist

Phone: 617-738-1480
Location1: 7 Kent Street Brookline, MA 02445
Location2: 1180 Beacon Street, Suite B, Brookline, MA
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Trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

By its very unexpected and uncontrolled nature, traumatic events cannot be avoided. Domestic violence, rape, car accidents, tornadoes, violent crime, terrorism, hurricanes, victims of war or miltary combat and a range of others. Communities very publically and individuals completely alone around the globe are dealing with the potentially massive effects of trauma.

Trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event and the impact can be too overwhelming to deal with right away. So the mind and body, with the wisdom of Nature, put into motion the shock response, or a “fight or flight” reaction, as a survival mechanism, to block the full impact of the traumatic event. That shocking or scary event triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it. It is a typical reaction meant to protect a person from harm.

Long-term reactions to trauma can include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, nightmares, strained relationships and even physical symptoms like headaches. While these feelings are normal, and most people get over them naturally, some individuals  have difficulty moving on with their lives.

Those who experience continued denial, the pushing away of the trauma, will suffer because denial doesn’t erase it. The trauma lingers, stored in our brain and body, like a powder keg ready to explode when a psychological trigger, or even a physical trigger like a scent, can set it off.

Those who continue to experience problems resulting from a traumatic event may be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they are not in danger.

A person suffering the after-effects of a traumatic event or dealing with PTSD requires compassion from family and friends, and guidance from a trusted mental health professional. Knowledge, understanding and proper treatment are critical elements in reducing the impact and intensity of the disruptive nature of trauma, which can cause fear, isolation and difficulty carrying on with the basic activities of daily life. Psychotherapists can help people suffering from trauma find constructive ways to manage their emotions.

Trauma and Risk of Suicide

Research indicates that there is a correlation between many types of trauma and suicidal behaviors, according to The National Center for PTSD. The results of a study published in the journal Child Abuse and Neglect showed evidence that traumatic events such as childhood physical or sexual abuse, loss of a family caregiver or exposure to family violence are associated with an increased risk of suicide.

One study found strong evidence that among veterans who experienced combat trauma, the highest relative suicide risk is in those who were wounded multiple times or hospitalized for a wound.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is an anxiety disorder that develops in relation to any events that create psychological trauma. The person directly experienced the trauma or witnessed it occurring. PTSD can result from learning of an actual or threatened death of a close family member or friend, or repeated first-hand exposure to the details of the event. A formal diagnosis of PTSD is made when the symptoms cause significant distress or impairment in social or occupational situations for a period of at least one month. With a PTSD diagnosis, the symptoms are not due to a medical condition, medication, drugs or alcohol.

The results of a national study published in The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease found that out of six different anxiety disorders, PTSD was significantly associated with thoughts of suicide or attempts at suicide.

Military Veterans and PTSD

Awareness of PTSD has become more common with the unfortunate increase in numbers of military personnel who have witnessed extreme levels of horror close-up. Many military veterans diagnosed with PTSD have seen, at close range, one or many members of their unit blown up by improvised explosive devices. Many have returned home with life-changing injuries. And while eagerly trying to embrace home, family and community, some of these veterans with PTSD struggle desperately to make the transition from the horrors of combat to common activities like Saturday afternoon shopping at the mall with their family.

Treatment Options for Trauma and PTSD

There is no one treatment that is right for everyone when it comes to healing from trauma or PTSD. The most important factor is working with a professional therapist who has the experience, vision and compassion to create an individualized plan that may include a combination of strategies. These are some of the most common therapies:

Behavior Therapy

 *Exposure: The most common form of behavior therapy is exposure, where a person gradually faces a fear. In this way, the memories of a traumatic event can be brought to light gently without the consequences of the original trauma.

*Relaxation training: Learning relaxation techniques can help a person decrease the intensity of the trauma by managing stress and anxiety.

*Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This therapy helps a person learn skills to replace negative, incorrect or irrational thoughts with more accurate, positive and healthy thoughts.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): The person focuses on the traumatic experience while tracking a moving light or the therapist’s moving finger. It has been shown to be effective for decreasing the symptoms of trauma.

Mindfulness: Mindfulness is paying attention to the moment, accepting thoughts and emotions, and allowing them to exist without judgement. It is gaining increasing support among mental health professionals as a treatment, or part of a treatment plan, for trauma and PTSD. Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy has been found to be helpful for people dealing with PTSD and depression.

Medication: The right medication can help make the symptoms or trauma or PTSD less intense and more manageable. Medication can help lessen symptoms such as irritability or depression.

When collaborating with a mental health professional, the goal of trauma-focused therapy is to integrate the traumatic event into your life, so the effects of trauma are manageable and eventually minimized. That allows for continued healing on the path to a healthier and more peaceful life.

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***If you or a loved one are thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(1-800-273-8255). This call can save a life.

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References

Friedman, Matthew J., MD, “Trauma and Stress Related Disorders in  DSM-5,” National Center for PTSD, Geisel School of Medicine, Dartmouth College
https://www.istss.org/ISTSS_Main/media/Webinar_Recordings/RECFREE01/slides.pdf

Hudenko, William, “The Relationship between PTSD and Suicide,” National Center for PTSD, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, March 28, 2017
https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/co-occurring/ptsd-suicide.asp

American Psychological Association, “Trauma,” 2017
http://www.apa.org/topics/trauma/

Dillmann, Susanne M., “Common Therapy Approaches to Help You Heal from Trauma,” GoodTherapy.org, March 9, 2011
https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/common-therapy-approaches-to-help-you-heal-from-trauma

Vujanovic, Niles, Pietrefesa, Potter, & Schmertz, “Potential of Mindfulness in Treating Trauma Reactions,” National Center for PTSD, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Feb. 23, 2016
https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/treatment/overview/mindful-ptsd.asp

How to Meet with A Therapist

Phone: 617-738-1480
Location1: 7 Kent Street Brookline, MA 02445
Location2: 1180 Beacon Street, Suite B, Brookline, MA
Book Appointment Ask a Question
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The Physiology of Trauma

Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a prominent mental health issue that affects millions of individuals worldwide. In the United States, an estimated eight percent of the population will experience PTSD at some point in their lifetimes. PTSD is caused by trauma, and while it is most commonly associated with negative […]

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How to Meet with A Therapist

Phone: 617-738-1480
Location1: 7 Kent Street Brookline, MA 02445
Location2: 1180 Beacon Street, Suite B, Brookline, MA
Book Appointment Ask a Question

Patrick Lee, LMHC

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Works with:
Children, adolescents, adults, couples, and families.

Therapy Approach:
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Motivational Interviewing

Specialties:

  • Mood disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Drug and alcohol problems
  • Chronic psychiatric conditions
  • Cross-cultural issues

Professional Training:
Carnegie Mellon University, B.A. Psychology
University of Massachusetts Boston, M.S. Mental Health Counseling

Get to Know:

Everyone, at least once in their life, finds themselves struggling with life events that feel insurmountable or with emotions that feel outside of their control. I believe that therapy can help with that and bring out your own resilience and capacity to learn. My guiding principle is to provide an open and accepting environment where people can explore their personal experiences and reinforce their well-being.

I view therapy as a collaborative process and use acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to emphasize mindfulness and awareness of self. Working together, we can identify barriers to success, maladaptive responses and strategies to help you find the change you’re looking for. I enjoy working with a diverse and multicultural population of clientele, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

For more information, please contact me at 857-242-6160 or patrick@bostoneveningtherapy.com.

How to Meet with A Therapist

Phone: 617-738-1480
Location1: 7 Kent Street Brookline, MA 02445
Location2: 1180 Beacon Street, Suite B, Brookline, MA
Book Appointment Ask a Question
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EMDR Therapy Can Replace Traumatic Memories

EMDR Uses Eye Movement to Allow Positive Connections to Replace Traumatic Memories During the 20 years Bill Devine was an ambulance driver, he dealt with trauma, grief and threats to his personal safety. When the stress became too much for the Australian emergency responder he took his own life. His unexpected suicide was, obviously, a […]

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How to Meet with A Therapist

Phone: 617-738-1480
Location1: 7 Kent Street Brookline, MA 02445
Location2: 1180 Beacon Street, Suite B, Brookline, MA
Book Appointment Ask a Question
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Loss of Community Impacts PTSD

PTSD Intensified by Loss of Community Community – it’s a foundation of human connection repeated as a mantra over decades in simple and profound phrases like, “No man is an island.” In his book,Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, Sebastian Junger says the loss of community is one of the main reasons for the devastating stubbornness […]

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How to Meet with A Therapist

Phone: 617-738-1480
Location1: 7 Kent Street Brookline, MA 02445
Location2: 1180 Beacon Street, Suite B, Brookline, MA
Book Appointment Ask a Question
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Strength and Renewal in the Face of Trauma

Growth From Trauma Author Jim Rendon offers the theory that survivors of all kinds of trauma may well be able to learn to experience lives of great meaning and reward as a result of persevering and healing over time and with important effort. Rendon is the author of Upside: The New Science of Post-Traumatic Growth. […]

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How to Meet with A Therapist

Phone: 617-738-1480
Location1: 7 Kent Street Brookline, MA 02445
Location2: 1180 Beacon Street, Suite B, Brookline, MA
Book Appointment Ask a Question
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Moral Injury Pushes Combat Actions Up Against Right and Wrong in Civilian Life

In a firefight in Iraq or Afghanistan, a U.S. solider may shoot and kill a teenage fighter who threatens his life or the lives of others in his combat unit. A Marine may blow up a building where enemy fighters are hiding, only to find the dead “enemies” are mostly women and children. These morally […]

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How to Meet with A Therapist

Phone: 617-738-1480
Location1: 7 Kent Street Brookline, MA 02445
Location2: 1180 Beacon Street, Suite B, Brookline, MA
Book Appointment Ask a Question
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Stark Production of Sophocles Plays to Heal PTSD Is a Dramatic Approach by Theater of War

A Novel Approach to PTSD In the efforts by military leaders and mental health professionals to heal the complex and life-threatening effects of post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans, one innovative approach is Theater of War. The stark, dramatic readings of plays by the Greek playwright Sophocles is a project created by translator and director Brian […]

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How to Meet with A Therapist

Phone: 617-738-1480
Location1: 7 Kent Street Brookline, MA 02445
Location2: 1180 Beacon Street, Suite B, Brookline, MA
Book Appointment Ask a Question
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Family and Community Create the Setting for Recovery From PTSD for Veterans and Others Suffering from Trauma

Hear the complete Dan Reidenberg interview here: PTSD Sudden noises, flashing lights and a network of support are all important considerations in creating a setting that encourages healing for veterans with PTSD and others dealing with the effects of trauma. Dan Reidenberg, executive director of SAVE, or Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, and chair of […]

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How to Meet with A Therapist

Phone: 617-738-1480
Location1: 7 Kent Street Brookline, MA 02445
Location2: 1180 Beacon Street, Suite B, Brookline, MA
Book Appointment Ask a Question

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