Some things we do know about trauma is that it is common in women. Approximately five out of ten women experience a traumatic event. While both men and women report the same symptoms of PTSD (hyperarousal, reexperiencing, avoidance, and numbing), some symptoms are more common for women or men.
We do know that women are more likely to be jumpy, to have more trouble feeling emotions, and to avoid things that remind them of the trauma than men. Men are more likely to feel angry and to have trouble controlling their anger then women. Women with PTSD are more likely to feel depressed and anxious, while men with PTSD are more likely to have problems with alcohol or drugs. Both women and men who experience PTSD may develop physical health problems. A significant health problem can be disordered eating.
People with eating disorders often report a history of trauma. There is also some evidence that having PTSD may increase a person’s risk for developing an eating disorder. It has been found that people with PTSD are approximately 3 times as likely as someone without PTSD to develop bulimia nervosa. Likewise, people with bulimia nervosa may be more likely to have co-occurring PTSD than people with anorexia nervosa. It can be rather confusing right? Here is what we know about Eating Disorders and PTSD and how they can be related.
In regard to bulimia nervosa, it has been suggested that the behaviors associated with this eating disorder may be a way of managing or regulating uncomfortable and distressing emotions. For example, it has been found that depression may be connected to the development of bulimia nervosa-related behaviors. People with PTSD often experience many strong unpleasant emotions (such as shame, guilt, sadness, and fear), and to the extent that people with PTSD do not have healthy ways of managing these emotions, they may develop or rely more on unhealthy behaviors, such as bingeing or purging.
So how do we treat PTSD/Trauma? That’s a good question. We have many different therapies that help with the overwhelming feeling of shame and guilt that is associated with PTSD/Trauma among other diagnoses that may be co-occurring.
- Cognitive Therapy
- EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization, Reprocessing)
- Individual Therapy
- Art Therapy
Every person who suffers from PTSD/Trauma has different stories and different coping mechanisms. We help each person individually to develop healthy coping skills so their trauma does not consume their entire being. We don’t have to live with our trauma enveloping our core beliefs. We can be free from the shame, guilt and fear.