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Treatment

Only a fraction of therapists have training in state-of-the-art trauma treatments. Currently, this consists of a combination of repeated retelling in a therapeutic setting of what happened in the disaster, an examination of any negative impacts on the individual’s self-image and view of the world, and gradual re-exposure to activities that are being avoided. Repeated retelling of the story in a therapeutic environment is a crucial aspect of treatment. After a trauma incident, victims become phobic of the memories of the trauma. They fear being reminded lest they be flooded with anxiety. The process of retelling the story helps victims to desensitize to the memory and to no longer be flooded with anxiety whenever they come in contact with something that reminds them of what happened. It helps them change the memory from a traumatic memory that takes over and floods them with painful feelings to a normal, sad memory that they can stop thinking about when they wish. Exploring how the experience changed the person’s self-image and worldview is very important. Exposure to traumatic events can lead people to feel that the world is much more dangerous than they had previously experienced it, to feel that people are untrustworthy, to feel that life is fragile and so they should not invest in the future, and to feel guilt for not having engaged in a heroic act during the disaster. Medication known as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are often very helpful.


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