The Calming Room

Anxiety and Trauma: Where is the connection?

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About 60% of men and 50% percent of women have experienced at least one traumatic event in their lives.  Of those, 7-8% will go on to be diagnosed with PTSD.   Thus it is clear that the experience of trauma does not necessarily mean one will develop PTSD. However, we want to consider can trauma show up in other ways?

Anxiety is a hallmark trauma response.  

The DSM V lists it as hypervigilance which can include: difficulty concentrating; feeling constantly “on guard” or like danger is lurking around every corner; heightened startle response; impulsive or self-destructive behavior; irritability or aggression behavior and/or problems sleeping. As you can see anxiety comes in many forms. Many of us will not realize the impact of our anxiety. Usually, this only shows when it begins to interfere with the way we experience our lives. 

It can cause problems in relationships with ourselves and others. We may have a hard time trusting others. Or we may be described as mean or angry, or have difficulty regulating our emotions and responses in threatening situations.  We may also struggle with trusting ourselves and doubting our perceptions or judgment. It can prevent us from fully enjoying life including visiting new or previously familiar places. Or trying new adventures or experiences for fear of danger.  

How does Anxiety work?

Anxiety can be helpful and it can be a hindrance. It’s helpful when it keeps us alert for work, driving, or in dangerous situations. However, it can become a hindrance when it gets in the way of us living our normal lives. 

Our brain’s job, among many things, is to keep us safe.  It’s constantly scanning to detect issues that may threaten our safety and security.  When we experience danger, our brain encodes the characteristics of that event so that when or if we encounter something similar it can protect us.  It will send a message to other parts of the brain and body to fight, fly, or freeze in response to the perceived threat.  Pretty helpful right? The trouble is that once that threat has been encoded, the brain will be cued to respond to all things that are similar to that first traumatic event. That’s when anxiety can become a hindrance.  Here’s an example:

Let’s say we have a car accident on a rainy night.  Soon after the accident, we notice when faced with the potential for driving in the rain, we experience physiological responses that include: increased heart rate, sweaty palms, shaking, jitteriness, nausea, and/or shallow breathing. Our brain has connected rain with danger.  Let’s say a loved one has a pretty important meeting on a rainy night and asks us to drive them.  We may respond in a multitude of ways:

Fight or Flight:

We may become irritable and start an argument with our loved ones. We don’t want to let them down but we also feel powerless, threatened.  Our heart rates may quicken, hands or underarms may dampen with sweat. Our senses may become narrowed.

Freeze:

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We may have a panic attack when the image of driving in the rain crosses our minds. Or, we may have no response at all.  Our brains may determine that it’s better for us to be emotionally disconnected from the ask.  We may even change the subject or appear as if we’ve not heard the question. 

These are not the only responses, just some,  and not everyone will have the same reactions.  Some people will outright avoid driving in the rain. Others may take small steps to regain their confidence to drive in the rain. Still, others may find themselves feeling trapped with their feelings and thoughts about driving in the rain. They find that each time they plan to drive on a rainy day, they back out. This produces a feeling of relief, a reinforcement of the anxiety.   We are all equipped with different experiences and resources. So what affects one person may have little or no bearing on another.

How can therapy help with anxiety and trauma?

Instead of our anxiety controlling us, therapy for anxiety and trauma helps us to learn how to manage our anxiety.  Anxiety treatment and trauma therapy can help us better understand the ways we respond. We will understand how anxiety interferes with living a fulfilling life. It can help us develop new ways to cope with and better manage our anxiety symptoms. This includes mindfulness, guided meditation, grounding, and breathing strategies to name a few.  Online therapy in Detroit, MI can help us teach our brains that every situation similar to the initial trauma is not a repeated trauma.  It can also help us develop openness to the inevitable experiences of discomfort and the flexibility to tolerate them.

There are a variety of therapies that can help you manage your anxiety.  Our therapists are skilled in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy,  Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Strategies, Brainspotting, and EMDR.  

It is our sincere belief that the most important component of therapy is relationship and so we first spend time getting to know you and your experience and then collaboratively develop a plan for treatment.  We are committed to providing quality care and staying up to date on the latest therapeutic interventions and techniques. 

Get Support with Anxiety and Trauma in Detroit, MI Today!

Courage on paper. It's a brave step to ask for help. Our trauma and anxiety therapists would be honored to support you. If you're looking for a black therapist who understanding anxiety and trauma in Detroit, MI you're in the right place. Call now!

Anxiety and trauma are intertwined more than you know. If you’re living in a way that doesn’t feel real or manageable, we can help! Our trauma therapists, at our Detroit, MI counseling practice know that healing from this takes time. That is why we specialize in working with women, people of color, and minorities. Our therapists are here to establish trust and safety with you in the counseling space via online therapy. To start your counseling journey, follow these simple steps: 

  1. Contact Introspective Counseling  
  2. Meet with one of our skilled anxiety and trauma therapists!
  3. Begin feeling in control and safe again!

Other Services Introspective Counseling Offers

Trauma and anxiety are exhausting and it’s not always easy to understand if it’s the trauma or the anxiety that is the issue. Let us help! Our trauma therapists are capable of helping you unpack where you are. We believe in your capability to heal and be resilient. If you need support, we can help!

Other services we offer include screening and assessment for other mood and mental health issues including postpartum depression, anxiety and perfectionism, depression, bipolar disorder and trauma, marriage counseling and couples therapy, therapy for moms, life transitionsgrief counselingtherapy for high achievers, grief counseling, and LGBTQIA+ counselingEMDR Therapy, and services for entrepreneurs and professionals. Additionally, we do offer services to black men, if you would prefer a black female counselor. If you believe that our approaches and values align with what you’re seeking in a therapist, we would be honored to work with you.