WHEN TO SEEK OUT A MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL
The pain of sexual assault is often described as an invisible wound. It is a violation of one’s inner self. The grief and sadness that a person feels after a sexual assault can be likened to the grief and pain a person feels when someone they care about dies. Feelings of betrayal and loss of trust and innocence can result in down days or feeling depressed. Symptoms of depression that should be addressed by a mental health professional include depressed feelings that linger, a continued loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy or poor concentration. These problems can become chronic or recurrent and lead to substantial impairments in an individual’s ability to take care of his or her everyday responsibilities.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Many people who go through traumatic events have difficulty adjusting and coping for a while. But with time and taking care of yourself, such traumatic reactions usually get better. In some cases, though, the symptoms can get worse or last for months or even years. Sometimes they may completely shake up your life. In a case such as this, you may have post-traumatic stress disorder.
Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms typically start within three months of a traumatic event. In a small number of cases, though, PTSD symptoms may not appear until years after the event.
Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms are generally grouped into three types: intrusive memories, avoidance and numbing, and increased anxiety or emotional arousal (hyperarousal).
Symptoms of intrusive memories may include:
Flashbacks, or reliving the traumatic event for minutes or even days at a time
Upsetting dreams about the traumatic event
Symptoms of avoidance and emotional numbing may include:
Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
Feeling emotionally numb
Avoiding activities you once enjoyed
Hopelessness about the future
Difficulty maintaining close relationships
Symptoms of anxiety and increased emotional arousal may include:
Irritability or anger
Overwhelming guilt or shame
Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much
Being easily startled or frightened
Hearing or seeing things that aren’t there
Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms can come and go. You may have more post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms when things are stressful in general, or when you run into reminders of what you went through. You may hear a report on the news about a rape and feel overcome by memories of your own assault.
When to See a Doctor
It’s normal to have a wide range of feelings and emotions after a traumatic event. You might experience fear and anxiety, a lack of focus, sadness, changes in how well you sleep or how much you eat, or crying spells that catch you off guard. You may have nightmares or be unable to stop thinking about the event. This doesn’t mean you have post-traumatic stress disorder.
But if you have these disturbing thoughts and feelings for more than a month, if they’re severe, or if you feel you’re having trouble getting your life back under control, talk to your health care professional or seek therapy at The Healing Place. Getting treatment as soon as possible can help prevent PTSD symptoms from getting worse.
In some cases, post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms may be so severe that you need emergency help, especially if you’re thinking about harming yourself or someone else. If this happens, call 911 or other emergency medical service, The Healing Place crisis line at (828) 692-3931, or ask a supportive family member or friend for help.
I Believe You.org is a compilation of resources and does not claim ownership of these resources. I Believe You.org is only the creator of the content that has been copyrighted by I Believe You.org. The appearance of external hyperlinks does not necessarily constitute endorsement by I Believe You.org of the linked web sites, or the information, products or services contained therein. I Believe You.org does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. All links provided are consistent with the mission of this website. Please let us know about existing external links which you believe are inappropriate.