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Traumatic experiences are a shock to the system. The very evolutionary mechanisms that are supposed to keep us safe, such as the fight/fight/freeze reaction, go haywire in the aftermath of trauma. 

Many people who undergo traumatic experiences suffer from lasting effects. Some types of responses to trauma are diagnosed as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Our clinicians are highly experienced in helping people recover from the symptoms of PTSD that may result from:

  • Sexual assault

  • Childhood sexual or physical abuse

  • Traumatic birth experiences

  • Life-threatening events

  • Combat experiences

  • Interpersonal violence

  • Natural disasters

  • Car accidents

  • Witnessing violence

  • And other potentially traumatic events


PTSD is characterized by symptoms such as:

  • Intrusive, unwanted memories

  • Strong emotional reactions to reminders

  • Nightmares 

  • Increased emotional reactivity in general (e.g., heightened startle response)

  • Avoidance of trauma reminders

  • Avoiding certain thoughts and feelings

  • Disconnection from others

  • Irritability

  • Mood changes

PTSD is one of many potential reactions to trauma. Other reactions may include depression, substance use problems, and other anxiety disorders. You may have very recently been through a trauma and are still in the midst of more acute shock or grief.


In the case of prolonged and repeated trauma, especially when trauma begins in childhood, additional problems may emerge, such as difficulties in interpersonal relationships, having a hard time with trust, overwhelming shame, self-harm behaviors, trouble with intense emotional reactions to everyday stressors, and difficulties with self-perception. These difficulties may occur instead of or in addition to PTSD if you have had especially difficult experiences and/or had a biological predisposition to experiencing intense emotion. Regardless of how you are reacting to your experience, there are effective treatments to help relieve your suffering.




Treatment after traumatic experiences depends on your specific symptoms. If you are struggling with the symptoms of PTSD, it's usually most helpful to you to be provided a space to emotionally process your trauma.


Many people who struggle after traumatic experiences need a therapist who stays very focused on trauma processing. Multiple clinicians at the Anxiety and Trauma Clinic of Atlanta are highly experienced in the two most evidence-based, effective therapies for PTSD: Prolonged Exposure (PE) therapy and Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT).


PE is a very effective cognitive-behavioral treatment for PTSD, which involves revisiting traumatic memories in a safe and supportive environment, challenging yourself to approach previously feared situations, and engaging in thoughtful processing that can help you make new meaning of what you have been through. 

CPT is another effective treatment for PTSD, involving revisiting assumptions or "stuck points" in your thinking about the trauma. By spending time reflecting on these assumptions with a skilled therapist, you learn how to think through "stuck points" on your own in the future, and develop lasting skills and new perspectives.


There are times trauma results in symptoms that are more pervasive, resulting in changes to your personality, global emotional responses, impulse control, and relationship functioning. In this case, additional emotion regulation skills can help you gain better functioning in daily life, establish healthy boundaries, and reduce distress. These can be integrated into PE treatment or may be a standalone treatment for your specific concerns.

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