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How to Recognize Anxiety due to Trauma

Crystal Fuller

There are specific circumstances that I sometimes find myself in that will cause me a great deal of anxiety. For example, if I have to speak in front of a large group of people, engage in any type of confrontation, or even if I am forced into a claustrophobic situation. All of these things cause my heart to race, my hands to shake, and my mind to go blank. The good news is when those experiences pass, I am able to calm myself down and go back to normal. For some, it may not be that easy.

We will all experience anxiety on some level in our life. As a matter of fact, it is common and not always bad as it is our bodies' natural way of reacting to a potentially dangerous situation. Anxious feelings can come in the form of:

  • Hot/cold flashes

  • Shaking

  • Racing heart

  • Tight feeling in chest

  • Hard to breathe

  • Worries escalate

  • Racing mind

  • OCD tendencies

  • Panic attacks

  • Avoiding social situations

If we experience something traumatic the above symptoms may amplify and continue to haunt us on a regular basis. Moreover, trauma survivors may also experience intense nightmares, flashbacks, panic attacks, or depression. If your anxious feelings are extreme, go on for weeks or months, affect your overall general health, or you can’t seem to find a way to enjoy life then you may be at a point to seek professional help.

Treating Anxiety and Trauma

For some, the following list will be a good place to start in treating your anxiety.

  • Exercise-known stress reducer

  • Avoid alcohol and drugs

  • Quit smoking and drinking caffeine

  • Use relaxation techniques such as yoga

  • Get enough sleep

  • Eat healthily

  • Try to identify what your triggers are

  • Write in a journal

  • Be a part of social groups

If the above tips are not enough it is time to seek additional help.

Treating anxiety and trauma should go hand in hand. If you only focus on managing one, then you have only solved half of the problem. You need skills to learn how to cope on a level that addresses both issues.

There are multiple forms of therapy that can help you heal from your trauma and treat your anxiety at the same time.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy:
  • This type of therapy will teach you how to combat negative thoughts and guide you to a better mindset.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy:
  • This therapy is similar to cognitive-behavioral therapy, but also adds an element of teaching one how to regulate emotions and teaches mindfulness skills.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing:
  • In this therapy, the memory of the event is focused on, and it tries to change how your brain has stored it.

  • There are also a myriad of medications that can help reduce the symptoms of anxiety. You may need to try a few different ones before finding the one that is right for your body. Also, important to note is that medications by themselves rarely give full relief. If used in combination with the right type of therapy, is when you will have the most success.


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