Men often hear phrases like “get tough” or “suck it up” when dealing with traumatic experiences. While most post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) are associated with the military and combat experiences, many other factors could also contribute to PTSD. Understanding and fully recognizing the complexities of men’s trauma takes some education to help more men come forward and express their emotions surrounding their symptoms.
However, you might feel inclined to bury your trauma. When you do this, symptoms such as panic attacks, physical pain, phobias, and addictions can seem to come out of nowhere. If you are experiencing such symptoms, you will benefit from looking deeper into your emotions, behaviors, and experiences to learn how they influence your overall health. Let’s look at how men relate to trauma and how working with a professional to help you understand your emotions will help you manage your PTSD symptoms.
Men’s Relationship to Trauma
Today, better awareness surrounding men’s mental health concerning trauma has come to light. Part of this is because we now have a better spectrum to measure certain disorders. We can also properly educate people about the medical nature of these disorders and help them detach from their personal perceptions of stigmas and stereotypes. However, not everybody seeks education on such conditions; men, in particular, are still far less likely to seek help. Why is this?
Research shows that it is because men are cultivated and socialized in society to be a certain way. The narrow definition of men is that “real” men are tough, strong, and never back down. Therefore, you might feel inclined to move through things to get over them, impacting your relationship with trauma.
Additional research reveals that by the time boys are age five and six, they are less likely to go to their parents or teachers with their distress. Such traits continue through adolescence and into adulthood. You become less likely to talk about your emotions and instead display emotions in other ways, such as aggression, anger, or risky behavior. However, when you experience a traumatic event, you might suppress your trauma because of how you learned to deal with emotions.
Revealing Hidden Trauma
Men have difficulty conveying emotions and hold onto their pain because they fear being identified as having something wrong with them if they talk about it. Alternatively, recovery and seeking help is about naming your emotions and getting them out in the open, particularly feelings connected to your trauma. Unresolved trauma can also increase your sense of shame. While it is not always the driving factor of your behaviors, it certainly contributes to them.
Participating in groups with other men who also struggle to express their emotions helps uncover your trauma. Being in an environment with others who share your experiences can help you make significant changes because these groups offer a curative experience. Being among other men is empowering and enables you to name your trauma and work together to express how you feel while releasing the stress and frustrations you have suppressed.
Coming to Terms With Trauma
Trauma occurs in a number of ways and at any age. It could stem from a negative sexual experience, domestic violence, bullying, or grief from an accident or loss. However, to begin healing, when seeking professional care, you must try and confront these experiences. If you imagine these moments as a video that you can play back in your memory, you will likely find how quickly you can recall the occasion. Such experiences might include seeing a parent or an object such as a bike or car. Getting that image is the first step to coming to terms with the trauma. Knowing this will soon help you recount the trauma.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy
Accompanying your treatment with Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) will also help you manage your PTSD symptoms. CBT is a guided therapy and includes assignments for you to complete at home. Such therapy works to create healthier beliefs about yourself and your trauma. CBT can also help you identify where you feel the trauma in your body when recounting these thoughts. When you bring all of these aspects together, you will likely experience a release of tension and distress. Therefore you can continue to work on coming to terms with your trauma.
Healing From Trauma
Addressing your trauma is not only a mental health issue; it is a medical issue. For example, if you were playing baseball and got hit with the ball and hurt a rib, you may seek medical attention and require more time to recover, depending on the severity of the injury. Therefore, if you are carrying around something in your head that you cannot release, this kind of nagging injury on your mental well-being also needs medical care.
To heal your PTSD, you should think of your mind, body, and spirit as one; everything is connected, and everything will contribute to your overall well-being when you properly care for all aspects of your life.
Seeking help for PTSD symptoms should not be any different than seeking help for a physical injury. However, it is often difficult for men to reach out for help – or for them to find the safe place needed in order to ask for help. At Choice House, we make men’s mental health needs our priority and provide a safe and secure space where they can come to experience their full range of emotions. Our incredible group therapy settings offer men the opportunity to connect with others experiencing similar issues and create a strong support network. Of course, we also offer individualized therapy to help you work through your emotions until you feel comfortable sharing with friends and family. When you act to seek change in your life, you are also acting to change the perceptions of men’s health. To learn more, reach out to us today by calling (720) 577-4422.