Many women seeking residential treatment suffer effects of one or more traumatic life events. While many women can effectively process trauma and achieve resolution through long-term outpatient treatment, women with multiple traumas may require more intensive and coordinated support at a holistic treatment center like Timberline Knolls.
The therapeutic environment at a trauma-aware residential treatment center may be especially healing to women with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and others whose trauma recovery may be complicated by other factors, such as:
- addictive or eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, alcoholism or drug abuse
- a dual diagnosis, or unaddressed or under-addressed co-occurring disorders, which make it challenging to engage in treatment for trauma
Regardless of a woman’s history of trauma, eating disorders, addiction or other mental health challenges, progress begins with awareness of her trauma and recognition of the way she responds.
Achieving this awareness in a therapeutic living environment allows some women to feel safe verbalizing their trauma experiences for the first time. Learning to accept emotional support from others in the recovering community can lead to significant breakthroughs and provide a strong foundation for additional long-term trauma and PTSD treatment and recovery work that may extend for months or years after residential treatment.
What is Trauma?
Traumatic events that happen to us as children or adults can be so overwhelming and inherently frightening that they cause temporary, and in some cases, permanent changes in our physical and psychological responses to stress.
Trauma describes any unexpected situation where one’s emotional and/or physical well-being is violated through the stress of the circumstances. Such a situation can be anything. Some examples include physical injury, emotional abuse or neglect, witnessing death or a natural disaster.
When the stress and anxiety from a traumatic event are chronic and cause significant life disruption, the sufferer may be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Post-traumatic stress disorder can be seen as an overwhelming of the body’s normal psychological defenses against stress. Thus, after the trauma, there is abnormal function (dysfunction) of the normal defense systems, which results in certain symptoms.
Trauma symptoms are produced in three different ways:
- Re-experiencing the trauma
- Persistent avoidance
- Increased arousal
In addition to depression and substance abuse disorders, the diagnosis of PTSD often co-occurs with anorexia nervosa, bulimia, over eating disorders, and anxiety.
The treatment environment at Timberline Knolls is “trauma aware.” That means everyone who works on our campus has training in sensitivity towards trauma – which some women and girls may not realize or acknowledge. To learn more about how we help women and teens make breakthroughs in dealing with trauma and PTSD, call one of our admissions counselors today at 877.257.9611.
Signs of Trauma and PTSD
PTSD symptoms may become disabling, particularly if the sufferer lacks adequate social support to allow them to voice their traumatic experiences. Once a person has experienced a traumatic event, many diverse warning signs of trauma can arise.
- Inability to trust others
- Difficulty concentrating / Easily distracted
- Depression / Anxiety
- Feeling uncomfortable in social situations
- Abuse of drugs
- Eating Disorders (Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, orthorexia, binge eating disorder)
- Self Injury
- Recurring thoughts from the trauma interfering with everyday life
Types of Trauma
The National Co-morbidity Study recently identified four most frequently experienced traumas:
- Witnessing someone being badly injured or killed
- Being involved in a fire, flood, or natural disaster
- Being involved in a life-threatening accident
- Combat exposure
The study also found that in total 51% of women and 61% of men had experienced at least one traumatic event in their lifetime. The type of trauma varies by gender.
The most common traumatic events experienced by men were:
- Combat Exposure
- Childhood neglect
- Childhood physical abuse
Women experience a broader range of traumatic life events, but were most likely to report:
- Sexual molestation
- Childhood parental neglect
- Childhood physical abuse
- Domestic violence
- Including being threatened with a gun
- Sudden death of a loved one
Women suffering from traumatic stress are more than twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with PTSD (13% vs. 6%). This is largely attributed to the greater incidence of rape and sexual assault among the female population. Women are also more likely to blame themselves for the traumatic event, or for their maladaptive response, which worsens the shame associated with the trauma and reduces the likelihood of seeking early treatment. As a result, women with PTSD are far more likely to suffer major depression or substance abuse than non-PTSD sufferers.