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Fight-or-Flight: How to Spot Familiar Trauma Responses

Fight-or-Flight: How to Spot Familiar Trauma Responses.

Most people have heard of the “fight-or-flight” response when it comes to traumatic or frightening situations. Either you stand up and confront your fear, or you run away from it.

While these are two of the most common trauma responses, they aren’t the only ones. (*even beyond “freeze” and “faun” too)

Additionally, trauma responses can happen years after the actual trauma occurs. Someone who experienced a traumatic situation may still have the same reactions when triggered in a specific way.

How can you spot some familiar trauma responses? What should you do about it if you regularly experience them?

Recognizing the Signs

Other common responses to trauma include everything from avoidance to vigilance. Because these are such varied responses, it’s only natural to expect different behaviors and reactions to each one.

Understanding some of the most common signs can make it easier to recognize trauma in yourself or others.. That said, some of the most common responses include:

  • Shock or disbelief
  • Confusion
  • Anger
  • Withdrawl
  • Guilt

One could argue that all of these behaviors fall within the fight-or-flight category, though some are more extreme than others.

For example, if your response to trauma is guilt, you might “run away” or avoid reality to escape that guilt. If your response is anger, you may be more inclined to fight. Unfortunately, that may lead to reckless behaviors and unhealthy ways of coping.

It’s not always easy to spot these familiar signs in yourself. That’s especially true if you’ve been dealing with them for a long time, caused by something like childhood trauma. Understanding the various ways you might feel impacted can help you realize that you might need help working through those experiences.

Trauma Responses Aren’t Always What They Seem

It’s crucial to note that trauma responses are often misdiagnosed. That’s because they might “show up” as another type of mental health condition. Most commonly, they cause anxiety.

Someone who has experienced trauma in their life might struggle with symptoms of anxiety. That includes everything from fear and helplessness to physical signs like rapid breathing.

As a result, it’s critical to get to the underlying root of every mental health condition, especially anxiety and depression. Working through your responses will help with feelings of anxiety. It can also help you manage your symptoms even when you experience a triggering situation.

Why Are Trauma Responses So Important?

Why is it essential to spot familiar trauma responses? Because people respond to trauma in different ways. The more you understand about those various types of responses the easier it can be to recognize them sooner.

Issues like anxiety don’t often go away on their own. And, if you keep ignoring your trauma responses, likely, they won’t go away on their own either. Maybe you’ve been ignoring them without even realizing it. Whatever the case, if you’re dealing with any of these common responses, you’re not alone. Help is available.

If you experience any of the responses listed here or you feel like something is “off,” you could be dealing with the effects of trauma. Thankfully, you don’t have to go through those feelings forever.

Feel free to contact me to learn more about familiar trauma responses or to set up an appointment. Together, we can uncover your responses and what you can do to work through your trauma. That starts with identifying it and figuring out effective ways to manage your symptoms while bringing you into the present and looking toward the future.

Your trauma doesn’t define who you are, and acknowledging your experience(s) can help you realize that. Please reach out today or visit my page about law enforcement and stress to learn more about how I can help.

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Grief

Ben Carrettin – Loss and Grief Counseling

 

Has a Recent Death in the Family or the Decline in a Loved One’s Health Left You with Feelings of Emptiness, Grief or Despair?

Have you recently lost someone you love to an illness or accident? Has this sudden separation left a void in your life, and you’re struggling to feel whole again? Perhaps a loved one has taken his or her life and you are trying to deal with feelings of guilt and depression as a survivor of suicide. Has a loved one’s absence either through illness or death created a hole that you cannot or do not want to fill? Is there a stillness in your life that keeps you awake, tossing and turning at night? Perhaps you are caring for someone whose health is slipping away everyday, and you are struggling to balance hope with the reality of impermanence. Do you wish you could feel like you were standing on solid ground again, seeing the world as it is, and not through the veil of grief and loss?

Loss floods us with emotions of fear, guilt, anger, grief and despair. Suddenly the person who you thought would always be there is gone, yet reminders of him or her are everywhere you look. The house feels a lot bigger than it once did, and an incredible stillness and silence lingers uninterrupted in every room. You might see the world without color, in shades of gray. Food has no flavor. Pleasure has no appeal. The sun shines and you can’t see it. The rain falls and you can’t feel it. You might feel trapped in quicksand, and every effort to escape only drags you deeper down. You wait for time to heal all, but it doesn’t, and everyday becomes more difficult, confusing and meaningless than the last. There is a gaping wound in your soul that you either can’t close or do not want to heal. And while you want to feel whole again, the physical emptiness left by your loss has been replaced with a greater, existential emptiness.

Grief and Loss Affects Almost Everyone at Some Point in Their Lives

Grief is one of the most common emotions humans feel. At some point in life, we all experience feelings of emptiness, loneliness and even abandonment as a result of a loved one’s death. But, feelings of grief and loss can also be a result of a dramatic social change. Leaving everyone you love to move to a new city or country, having a spouse abandon the family or losing your home and possessions to a fire or natural disaster can cause significant emotional trauma. While grieving is a natural and healthy part of the healing process, many people can begin to experience symptoms of depression, anxiety and trauma. The fear of the new unknown, the stress of facing the world alone or the sheer sadness caused by of a loved one’s absence can erode your strength and perseverance and even adversely affect your health. The good news is that grief is a natural part of life, and there is help and hope. With the support and guidance of a compassionate and understanding therapist, you can work through your loss and resolve feelings of confusion, grief and even anger.

Grief Counseling and Emotional Trauma Therapy Can Help You Find Strength and Wholeness Again

The sudden absence of a family member, friend or significant other can elicit extreme grief, fear, depression, anxiety, apathy and even anger and resentment. Despite our knowledge of our own mortality, actually witnessing the decline of life and death can be a world-shaking experience, especially when someone is ripped out of our lives. Fortunately, grieving is a normal and healthy healing mechanism. And, in warm, safe and confidential grief therapy sessions, I can help you sort through challenging emotions and regain a sense of normalcy and wholeness again.

I believe in inclusivity, and will meet you where you are regardless of religion, spiritual practice, sexual orientation, culture or political position. In a comfortable and safe, living room-style environment, we can explore the thoughts, feelings and problems that are burdening you daily. By addressing your loss directly, I can help you regain a sense of clarity and help you develop ways to re-engage and reconnect with life. Through a combination of conversational techniques and a mindfulness approach, I can help you confront your grief, manage your loss and renew your engagement in the present moment.

I have been providing grief and loss counseling as a standard part of my practice since I began helping people with cancer and medical trauma in 1992. I understand the devastating impact that loss can have on individuals and families. But, I also know that there is help, healing and hope. With a kind, conversational and mindfully guided approach, I can help you process your loss and regain your sense of self and wholeness.

You Still May Have Questions or Concerns About Grief Counseling…

I’m afraid of the emotions I might encounter if I talk about my loved one’s absence.

Confronting death can be a terribly frightening ordeal that requires incredible courage and strength. Whether watching someone slowly decline in health or having a loved one pass suddenly, the emotions we experience can be so overwhelming that we want to avoid thinking about them. But, avoidance can create other problems. Despair, depression, anxiety and apathy can cause you to withdrawal from those still around you, slowly eroding at the wonderful life you still have. By gently confronting your vulnerabilities and exploring your emotions, I can help gain clarity and confidence about the future.

If therapy is successful, am I erasing the person I lost from my life?

Grief therapy will never erase someone from your life. Loss is like a deep scar. It heals and it even fades, but it never goes away. It lives with us as a reminder of the past. Even though it is always there, eventually the pain of the wound subsides, and even the sight of the scar fades. Grief and emotional trauma therapy can help you to understand the difference between forgetting someone and letting him or her go. In our sessions I can help you move forward with your own life while acknowledging and celebrating the precious one you lost.

I don’t need counseling; I should be able to work through this on my own.

Loss is one of the many powerful things that make us equal. And, it takes strength and resilience to face death or loss. Just by seeking grief counseling you are already taking the first bold step toward healing yourself. Seeking help is a sign of not being broken or weak. Rather, it truly is a sign of strength. With grief and loss counseling I can help you empower yourself, and find strength, hope and peace in the present moment.

You Can Find Purpose, Healing and Wholeness in the Midst of Sorrow…

You don’t have to work through these difficult times alone. I invite you to call me for a free 15-minute consultation at (346)-493-6181. I would be happy to talk through any questions you have about my practice or grief and loss counseling.

 

Ben Carrettin is a Nationally Board Certified Counselor (NCC), Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor (LPC-S) and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC). He is the owner of Practice Improvement Resources, LLC; a private business which offers an array of specialized counseling, evidenced-based clinical consultation, Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) and targeted ESI-based services to individuals and businesses.