When we hear Trauma/PTSD, the first thing that comes to mind is the military. Surprisingly, it has only been in the last five years that this association has really been emphasized. The strong association of trauma/PTSD and the military has had one major drawback.
The general public is unaware of the widespread incidence of trauma in the civilian world. For those of us who have specialized in post-trauma counseling, we know that many people are suffering and have no idea that their pain and distress can be cured or substantially diminished.
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Studies have suggested that 30 – 60% of primary care physician visits are trauma-related. Physical symptoms representing a wide range of body systems drive people to medical visits over and over again. Because their illnesses are not successfully controlled, they experience little if any relief. Adding insult to injury, this category of trauma disrupts memory processing. That is why so many people are unaware that they may be struggling with a trauma-related illness.
Because the majority of medical professionals are not well versed in PTSD and its complex symptom picture, individuals suffering from this illness are often misdiagnosed. It is not uncommon for people to develop physical complaints as the body begins to express prolonged physical stress and psychological pain.
When the medical treatment does not yield substantial relief, the person retreats into shame and guilt for the failure to get better. They become hopeless and withdrawn. As a way of managing pain, 25-45% of traumatized individuals use a variety of drugs/alcohol to manage their distress.
There are contributing factors that make an individual more vulnerable to experiencing a traumatic response. I have listed below a wide range of situations and events that may precede the development of a trauma-related illness.