Traumatic experiences

Everyone will have some bad experiences in life, sometimes even shocking ones. Often these experiences slowly leave our memory and stop troubling us. As the saying goes: ‘Time heals all wounds’. But sometimes, time heals nothing. When bad or shocking experiences keep bothering someone, we tend to speak of ‘traumatic experiences’. People with traumatic experiences often get a different perspective on situations related to the trauma and in many cases start to display avoidance. For example, someone becomes afraid of dogs, after being bitten by one, or avoids getting back in the car after being involved in a car crash. These consequences can get so limiting, that people might not be able to live their life the way they want.

Cognitive behavioural therapy and/or EMDR treatment can help to minimise your complaints, so you will again be able to do what you want and fully enjoy your life. For more information on EMDR in English, see the website of the EMDR International Association or the EMDR UK & Ireland.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

When you’ve been in a life-threatening situation or whitnessed one, like a severe accident, armed robbery or sexual assault, you might develop a post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. If so, you are not able to fully process and deal with what happened. People with PTSD often report reliving the event, flashbacks, nightmares, feeling keyed up (hyperarousal) and avoidance. PTSD may also be the cause of difficulty sleeping, feeling irritable and emotional, pulling back from social contact and not being able to go to work. Because of all these complaints a post-traumatic stress disorder can seriously disrupt your life.

Treatment often consists of a specific trauma intervention, like imaginary exposure or EMDR, in combination with cognitive behavioural therapy to change your perspective and stop avoidance. PTSD can be treated in general mental health care [basis GGZ], as well as in specialized mental health care [gespecialiseerde GGZ]. Your therapist can advise you on what suits your situation best.

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