Experiencing a trauma trigger is not just being upset by disturbing content. It’s a response wired into our brain by a past event, causing thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, and behaviors that often feel automatic and out of one’s control.
Brenda Denzler, a North Carolina writer, recounts in the online magazine Cure the abject fear that gripped her as she prepared for surgery. “Fear and anxieties so intense that they bordered on hysteria emerged,” writes Denzler. Luckily, the surgery went well and her fears subsided. Then in 2018, she was diagnosed with cancer. “I was… read more
As infants, we are completely dependent on the responses of those around us. Our attachment to caregivers begins during the first 18 months of our lives, with instinctual behaviors like crying or clinging when we need help or attention. As stated by Positive Psychology, these behaviors are thought to be evolutionary mechanisms that help infants increase their chances of survival.
Unlike the relatively similar behaviors of infants, caregivers may respond with a whole range of reactions. Their responses to our behavior teach us what is “acceptable” and what isn’t. This has a huge impact on how we interact with people going forward.
What is integrative (mind-body) medicine? We used to think that our mental, emotional, and physical health were completely separate. If you wanted to treat one, you didn’t have to consult with the others. Yet as our knowledge has advanced, we’ve learned that this old myth is far from true. This has led to the rise… read more
Discussions of mental health on our televisions represent a radical change; there was a time when mental health was so stigmatized that people avoided discussing it within their families, let alone engage with it on a public platform. In many ways, this shift towards mental health representation is a major win. Shows that “do it right” can normalize conditions that might have otherwise felt isolating or shameful, and can encourage viewers to seek treatment.
Many trauma survivors experience challenging “anniversary reactions,” which are defined as “unique set[s] of unsettling feelings, thoughts or memories that occur on the anniversary of a significant experience.” When a survivor finds themselves in the midst of a trauma anniversary, they often are forced to re-live feelings from the traumatic event, causing symptoms like increased anxiety, depression, trouble sleeping, loss of appetite, nightmares, and irritable outbursts.
Sleep is supposed to be restful; yet when we’re having a nightmare, it’s anything but. Whether we’re being terrorized by a fictional monster (that girl from The Ring, anyone?) or grieving a dreamed loss, nightmares steal our energy away rather than restoring it. So why do we have nightmares? And how can we reduce their… read more
What is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? Many people have heard the term “PTSD,” particularly regarding issues of sexual assault and the military. Yet not all of us are totally clear on what it is or how it works. While our knowledge of trauma is constantly growing, here’s a basic overview of what clinicians and researchers know… read more
More and more therapists are describing themselves as “trauma-informed” or “experienced in trauma care”—but what does that mean, and how can trauma-informed care (TIC) benefit those of us seeking treatment? Dr. Julie Lopez, creator of the Viva Center’s Trauma Informed Clinical Practice Certificate Program, helps us break down how TIC can affect your wellness journey… read more
The effects of trauma are multifaceted; it can alter not only our mood, but also the sensations we feel in our body, such as headaches, gastrointestinal distress, and more. It can even make us feel as though we’ve lost control of essential parts of ourselves; many survivors of sexual trauma, for example, struggle to regain their sense of control over their own sexuality.
How can we reclaim this essential part of ourselves and learn to find joy from it? We looked to experienced therapists, including Viva Practitioner Alina McClerklin, LICSW, and sex therapist Vanessa Marin, for ways to regain one’s sense of control.