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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Unprocessed trauma is often the root of physical and emotional symptoms.

Trauma refers to any experience you have that is unwanted and hurtful. These experiences are often unexpected and cause a loss of your sense of control and safety. This may include a variety of situations (divorce, discrimination, abuse, neglect, death, serious injury to yourself or loved ones, loss, and many more). What is traumatic to one person may not be traumatic to another and some people are not even aware that their body has processed an experience as trauma. 

When we experience trauma, our brain (along with the rest of our body), tries to protect us. Unfortunately, this is not always a helpful long-term strategy and unprocessed trauma can lead to re-experiencing the event in unexpected and unwanted ways when seemingly minor trauma triggers occur. In addition, trauma can lead to changes in your baseline thought processes and behaviors, including how you behave in relationships.

Adulthood is often the first time someone realizes that they have experienced trauma. It may also be the first time they experience trauma or have the opportunity to get support for trauma.

When trauma is not recognized and treated appropriately, clients often find themselves over-diagnosed and over-medicated. However, when you work with a provider trained and willing to take the time to do a thorough assessment, you can find the best combination of medication and therapy so that your brain can heal and you can regain power and live the wonderful life you deserve. (Yes, you deserve a wonderful life)! 

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Brainspotting

 Where you look affects how you feel!  Have you ever noticed that when you are deep in thought, especially with an uncomfortable memory, you may "get stuck staring"?  By accessing the position of gaze, we can facilitate brain healing.  This gentle, patient-led process allows the brain to process trauma so that healing occurs and trauma loses its power.  

Brainspotting is a focused mindfulness practice that we will do together that helps your brain and body to process the trauma you have experienced. Clients report decreased physical and emotional responses to trauma triggers when their brain is given this opportunity.

Transformational healing!

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Postpartum Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

When we experience potential or actual emotional or physical harm to ourselves or our loved ones (as often occurs when something unwanted, painful, harmful, or distressing occurs too much, too fast, or too often), our brains will attempt to protect us and cope.  While this may be helpful in the moment, sometimes our brains get stuck, and when this happen the emotions, and physical sensations from the trauma can be re-experienced in both subtle and obvious ways that negatively impact mood, contribute to anxiety, and impair relationships.  Trauma is often part of living.  It can be dramatic and life-threatening.  And it can be subtle but frequent.  What is traumatic to one person may not be traumatic to another.  It is not a competition.  Common traumas that occur and can be damaging to maternal mental health are physical, sexual, emotional abuse or neglect, unexpected or life-threatening illnesses or injuries, motor vehicle accidents, divorce, repeated rejection, racism, and pregnancy and birth trauma or complications, pregnancy loss, and infertility, among others.

Why Postpartum PTSD and Birth Trauma Treatment is essential for Maternal Mental Health

When trauma is not processed in the brain, it causes significant symptoms that impair physical as well as maternal mental health.  This is true even for traumas that have occurred prior to the perinatal period.  In fact, moms who have experienced trauma or more likely to be diagnosed with multiple mental heath conditions and misdiagnosed with mental health conditions, that can be better explained by their trauma.  Common symptoms that occur secondary to trauma are difficulties remembering key details of things that were occurring during the time of the trauma, feeling detached or less interested in meaningful interactions with others, irritability and outbursts, being easily startled or hyper-vigilant, unwanted memories and flashbacks, avoiding situations or people who trigger unwanted memories, unnecessary guilt or blame of self or others, and unmanageable fears of harm coming to self or others.  In addition, moms who have experienced traumas often report increased difficulty with sleep, pain, muscle tension, headaches, abdominal symptoms, palpitations, and fatigue.  Because this can be so common for moms who have experienced pregnancy and birth complications, pregnancy loss, infertility, and NICU experiences, it is essential that these moms have regular contact with a perinatal mental health specialist to ensure that they are appropriately screened and given guidance about how to treat and manage the effects of their trauma so their brains can heal and their relationships, functioning, and quality of life do not continue to impacted for years after the actual trauma.  I am so pleased to be able to offer treatment for postpartum PTSD and birth trauma to clients in North Carolina and Virginia through a telehealth platform.

What can be done to treat the maternal mental health effects of PTSD, birth trauma, NICU experiences, pregnancy loss, infertility, and other traumas?

Trauma is best treated by therapy and Brainspotting is a therapy approach that has been shown to be helpful in reducing symptoms and healing for the brain.  In can also be used for other concerns, that maybe don't feel "traumatic" but are causing emotional distress and overwhelm.  In addition, many moms find having a safe space to talk through and explore their own story without judgement can be very helpful.  

For many moms who experience trauma, they will have associated mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.  These conditions can safely be treated with medication during pregnancy, lactation, and beyond when needed.

What doesn't work for trauma?  AVOIDANCE-the natural human response everyone goes to.  With the help of a trained professional, you can learn skills and techniques that will help you on your path to recovery!  Because Joy Spring Maternal Mental Health is an integrated practice, I am able to offer a full spectrum of treatment options tailored to each individual including therapy and medication management to moms in NC and VA through a telehelath platform.

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