Friday, April 23, 2010

Helping A Friend Who Has Been Through A Trauma

Any on of us may break down if we experience enough stress.  When conditions of overwhelming stress occur, even a previously stable individual may develop temporary psychological problems.  An individual will usually recover easily once the stressful situation is over.  In some cases, there are longer lasting effects that increase vulnerability to stress leading to a reduction in job satisfaction and poor interpersonal relationships.  

This is a blog on how to observe the warning signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and not becoming over-involved with a friend’s problem and how to refer them to professional counseling.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can be experienced by people exposed to earthquakes, sexual assaults, plane crashes, automobile accidents, fires, etc.  These individuals experience psychological “shock” reactions and show signs of stress.  Symptoms frequently occur after a trauma.  People with this disorder might experience anxiety ranging from mild to severe anxiety when situations are presented that recall the traumatic event.

People who have been subjected to trauma often experience chronic tension, irritability, fatigue, and/r insomnia.  Often, persons experiencing PTSD will experience nightmares that directly or symbolically represent the traumatic incident.  Other symptoms include lack of concentration, memory loss and feelings of depression. 

Therapeutic intervention with a therapist right after the trauma can greatly reduce the chances of an individual experiencing PTSD.  It is important for the individual to talk about the event as much as they need to.  It is also a good idea for them to begin to write their feelings down on paper.  It is also important to allow them to express their anger over the situation.  All of this should be done in conjunction with a competent therapist.

The best way to assist someone whom you suspect of having PTSD into therapy is to ask them a question concerning therapy such as, “Have you thought about getting some counseling on that subject?”  Talk openly about what they are experiencing without judgment about going for counseling.  This will allow them to feel supported by you and may be the best advice they have yet received.

Making a direct statement such as, “You need therapy!” mighty be too confrontational and do neither of you any good.  It might lead to an argument, or at best, alienate your friend from any chance of reaching out for professional help.

Effective therapy can help them overcome feelings of loneliness, low self-esteem and depression while helping them move in a positive direction where they feel more confidence in themselves and more control over their life situations.  Therapy can also help them move out of being and feeling like a victim in life into a place where they are able to ask for what they want while gaining the respect of those around them.

For more information on trauma and anxiety and to listen to free samples of Dr. Walton's self-help series log onto  you can also follow his daily tips on Twitter@LAtherapist.  For more information on Dr. Walton and to get free audio affirmations for self-empowerment, log onto his website at

1 comment:

Beverley Hills Therapist said...

It takes a while, patience and understanding and staying positive is the key.