Trauma & PTSD

What Is Trauma?

Trauma is the experience of severe psychological distress following any terrible or life-threatening event. Sufferers may develop emotional disturbances such as extreme anxiety, anger, sadness, survivor’s guilt, or PTSD. They may experience ongoing problems with sleep or physical pain, encounter turbulence in their personal and professional relationships, and feel a diminished sense of self-worth due to the overwhelming amount of stress.

Although the instigating event may overpower coping resources available at the time, it is nevertheless possible to develop healthy ways of coping with the experience and diminishing its effects. Research on trauma identifies several healthy ways of coping, such as avoiding alcohol and drugs, seeing loved ones regularly, exercising, sleeping, and paying attention to self-care.


What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a trauma and stress-related disorder that may develop after exposure to an event or ordeal in which death or severe physical harm occurred or was threatened. People who suffer from the disorder include military troops, rescue workers, and survivors of shootings, bombings, violence, and rape. Family members of victims can develop the disorder as well through vicarious trauma.

PTSD affects about 8 million American adults and can occur at any age, including childhood. Women are more likely to develop the disorder than men, and there is some evidence that it may run in families. PTSD is frequently accompanied by depression, substance use disorder, and anxiety disorders. When other conditions are appropriately diagnosed and treated, the likelihood of successful treatment increases.

When symptoms develop immediately after exposure and persist for up to a month, the condition may be called acute stress disorder. PTSD is diagnosed when the stress symptoms following exposure have persisted for over a month. Delayed expression of PTSD can occur if symptoms arise six months or more following the onset of trauma.

Watch this video and process through the below questions:


Journal Questions:

1. What distinguishes PTSD from other traumatic experiences?

2. Danny mentions in the opening scene that during war, showing signs of weakness is unacceptable.This can allow PTSD to go unnoticed for an extended amount of time. We also have a tendency to avoid showing weak- ness in our everyday “civilian life.” What does this look like? What can we do to keep this from inhibiting our mental health?

3. The professional counselors, Jennifer and Myque mention that people might have symptoms of anxiety and depression, but they have not yet realized that these are just symptoms resulting from a traumatic situation. What practical questions can we begin to ask a friend who is trying to connect pieces of their past and move toward mental health?

4. Can addiction and trauma also be connected? What does this look like?

5. Carla said that JC had cocaine in his body when he was born, so the trauma in his life started in the womb. How can we better serve, love and support mothers as they prepare for caring for an infant who suffers from trauma?

6. JB mentions the reality of community trauma. How would you define community trauma?

7. How can we as individuals or as a church be more pro- active in caring for those impacted by community trauma?

8. Joan mentions that trauma impacts every zip code. What are some examples of trauma that can occur out- side a war zone in the confines of a “safe”, middle class suburban home?

9. Myque mentions that PTSD does not just impact our mind but it can also impact our physical behavior. This can show up in our culture as road rage, fist fights and fits of rage. What are some practical things we need to be aware of to keep ourselves safe and those who are suffering from PTSD safe when we encounter this?

10.Jennifer spoke about the trauma that occurs when the intrinsic bond with a family member is broken. We react differently to this than the trauma we feel from a car accident. Why is it important to be aware of this difference? How can individuals or the church do a better job of caring for those who suffer from this trauma of a broken intrinsic bond?

11. JB mentions the importance of those who are suffer- ing to recognize the value in “care receiving.” He says it is even richer than self-care. What if someone appears to not want our help? How can we still pursue them and offer our care?

12. JB states that we have to be okay to struggle and get away from “the mask.” What do we do once we figure out that we meet the criteria for PTSD and we are ready to look for help? What are the best first steps for us to take?

13. Make a list of all of the veterans you personally know. What are some practical things you can do today to help provide them community and care?


Scripture Reading:

  • Lamentations 3:21-23
  • Psalm 62:8
  • Proverbs 22:3
  • Job 36:15
  • John 8:32
  • 2 Thessalonians 3:5