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Dr. Jan Mark Burte - Trauma



At one time or another, almost all individuals experience trauma. Trauma may be minor or significant. Needless to say, almost all individuals experienced some degree of trauma on 9/11. For those who were there that day, the trauma may have been greater than for those who had watched it on television. However, for those who had watched and waited for word from loved ones who were at the World Trade Center, the trauma may have been equally great.


What is Trauma?


Trauma is a complicated experience. It may occur in childhood as a result of abuse, neglect or exposure to overwhelming situations. When children internalize their traumatic experiences, a range of symptoms may often develop. Through the administration of psychotherapy, they can learn to re-master and understand the trauma, develop coping mechanisms and re-develop a sense of security in the world.


For adults, traumas from childhood often continue to influence behaviors, beliefs and emotions. Overwhelming experiences in adulthood (e.g., exposure to combat, serious motor vehicle accidents, death of a loved one, or hurricanes) can cause various levels of trauma. The treatment of trauma may include focusing on the persons perceptions of the event, the actual event or their anticipation of future events. It is the overwhelming sense of helplessness and loss of control which needs to be addressed. Hypnosis, psychotherapy, systematic desensitization and EMDR have shown their effectiveness in treating trauma.


Often, trauma incurs significant symptomology, inclusive of sleeplessness, nightmares, hyper-startle responses, phobic responding, agitation, racing thoughts and depression.




Many of these symptoms can be treated conjointly with psychotropic medications. Frequently, benzodiazapines such as Xanax, sleep medications. such as Ambien CR, antidepressants, such as Effexor CR. and Lexapro for depression and anxiety can help address some of these symptoms.


For severe trauma, especially where there has been physical injury, an integrated approach of medical intervention for pain and injury, psychiatry for psychopharmacological management of symptoms and psychotherapy emotional distress and pain control works best.


At times, the cause of the trauma may be an event about which the individual feels shame (e.g., childhood sexual abuse). It may not be until adulthood circumstances place stress on the individual that these earlier traumas get expressed. Trauma is a treatable condition and anyone who is suffering from childhood or adult trauma should seek treatment.


For acute trauma (e.g,. motor vehicle accidents), phobias, fears, anxiety and avoidance of driving or being a passenger in a car can be treated and resolved. Trauma and pain management often require specialized interventions. Individuals should seek out professionals with training and experience in these areas when seeking out a therapist.