PTSD and Avoidance: Understanding the Connection
Updated: Apr 26
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can develop after a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event, such as a natural disaster, a car accident, or a violent crime. One of the most common symptoms of PTSD is avoidance, which can take many forms and can have a profound impact on a person’s daily life. Avoidance behaviors are ways in which a person tries to avoid thinking about or reliving the traumatic event. This can involve:
Avoiding places, activities, or people that trigger memories of the event.
Withdrawing from friends and family.
Using drugs or alcohol to numb feelings.
Staying busy all the time to avoid thinking about the event.
These avoidance behaviors can become so ingrained that a person with PTSD may feel like they are “stuck” in their trauma and unable to move forward. Unfortunately, this avoidance only reinforces the PTSD symptoms and makes it harder for the person to heal.
Why does avoidance occur in PTSD?
Avoidance is a natural response to trauma. When faced with a traumatic event, the body and mind instinctively try to protect themselves from further harm. By avoiding reminders of the event, a person with PTSD is trying to reduce their anxiety and prevent themselves from reliving the trauma.
However, while avoidance may provide temporary relief, it is not a long-term solution. In fact, it can actually make the PTSD symptoms worse over time. By avoiding reminders of the trauma, a person with PTSD is not allowing themselves to process the event and integrate it into their memory. This can lead to persistent, intrusive memories and nightmares.
How can avoidance be addressed in PTSD treatment?
Therapies, such as Mindfulness Based Modalities and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), can be effective in addressing avoidance in PTSD. These therapies help a person to identify and challenge negative thoughts and beliefs related to the trauma, which can reduce their anxiety and avoidance behaviors.
In conclusion, avoidance is a common symptom of PTSD that can have a profound impact on a person’s daily life. While avoidance may provide temporary relief, it is not a long-term solution and can actually make the PTSD symptoms worse over time. Through therapy, Mindfulness, Mediation, and EMDR, a person with PTSD can learn to face their traumatic memories and triggers and overcome their avoidant behaviors.
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