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Trauma and PTSD

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Helping You Live Without Fear

When you’re going through a traumatic experience, you may feel fear, helplessness and anger. If these emotions start disrupting your daily life after the experience is over, you may have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

We offer compassionate care for the range of emotions many people with this condition face. This can make it possible for you to put these events behind you.

Help for Trauma and PTSD at MultiCare Behavioral Health

We offer a range of services for people struggling with trauma and PTSD, including:

  • Children: In addition to primary care settings and our behavioral health agency, Child & Family Services are available in select school districts, pediatric clinics and Mary Bridge Children's Hospital.
  • Asian Pacific Americans: Meeting the unique needs of immigrants and refugees, our Asian Counseling program offers culturally appropriate care and addresses causes of PTSD that are unique to this population..
  • Adults: With state-certified mental health professionals in 11 primary care locations, our integrated services help you get the care you need. Adults with private health insurance or who are interested in fee-based services receive expert treatment through our General Counseling Services. Adults with serious mental illness receive treatment and support through our Adult Community Support Services.

What is Trauma and PTSD?

It’s normal to feel afraid when you’re in danger. These feelings trigger a series of split-second changes in your body that prepare you protect yourself.

When you have post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, you may feel this way even when you’re not in any danger. People with PTSD protect themselves in ways that sometimes make it difficult for them to function in society.

PTSD develops after going through a terrifying incident that involves physical harm or the threat of physical harm (trauma). People with PTSD may experience harm directly, or they may have witnessed it happening to someone else.

People suffering from PTSD may also experience depression, chemical dependency or additional anxiety disorders, such as panic attacks.

What Are the Symptoms of Trauma and PTSD?

Adult symptoms of PTSD fall in to three broad categories. These include:

  • Re-experiencing symptoms: This includes reliving the trauma (flashbacks), bad dreams or frightening thoughts. Re-experienced symptoms can start from your own thoughts and feelings, as well as outside sounds, objects or situations that remind you of a traumatic event.  
  • Avoidance symptoms: These symptoms may cause you to go out of your way to avoid things that remind you of a traumatic experience.
  • Hyper-arousal symptoms: Hyper-arousal symptoms usually leave you stressed or fearful all of the time. People with hyper-arousal symptoms are usually startled easily and feel tense or “on edge.”

Young children can have extreme reactions to trauma, as well. These symptoms can include:

  • Bedwetting in children who are potty trained
  • Being unable to speak
  • Acting out the traumatic event during playtime
  • Being unusually clingy

Older children and teens usually show symptoms like those seen in adults. They may also:

  • Develop disruptive, disrespectful or destructive behaviors, including oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)
  • Feel guilt for not preventing the trauma

Symptoms usually begin within a few months of the incident, but may occasionally emerge years afterward. Not every traumatized person develops PTSD.

How Do We Diagnose Trauma and PTSD?

We diagnose PTSD based on your signs and symptoms and a thorough psychological evaluation. You may also have a physical exam to check for medical problems.

How Do We Treat Trauma and PTSD?

We use practices that have been proven successful in relieving symptoms of trauma and PTSD (evidence-based practices). Common treatments for PTSD may include a combination of:

  • Individual therapy: Although it may be difficult to talk about your memories, doing so with the help of a mental health professional can help you feel better. Counseling can help you:
    • Change the thought patterns you experience when something triggers a traumatic memory
    • Confront the memories and situations that cause your symptoms
    • Reduce your negative feelings about the memories you have
    • Learn relaxation and anger control skills
  • Family therapy: The trauma that you or your loved one experienced can affect how your entire family functions. We teach families techniques for supporting each other and addressing conflict. This may include coping strategies for helping your loved one through the ups and downs of their recovery.
  • Group therapy: Led by a mental health professional, allow you to share experiences with other survivors. Through guided discussion, you can gain the confidence to cope with your memories and find comfort in knowing you’re not alone.

Note: The condition description on this page is intended to be informational only, and should not be considered a diagnosis or medical advice. Please seek the advice of a qualified medical professional if you believe you have any of the symptoms described here.

Contact Us

Our services are available in convenient locations throughout Pierce and South King counties. 

Outpatient and Specialty Services

Call 888-445-8120 to make an appointment 

Adult Inpatient Psychiatric Care

Monday-Friday, 8am to 6pm

After hours and weekends

Geriatric Psychiatric Care

Monday-Friday, 8am to 4:30pm

After hours and weekends