The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

South workshop educates students on PTSD’s reality

By Karen Rios/ reporter

Trauma can affect everyone and can lead to PTSD, a veterans counselor told South Campus students March 23.

Valerie Groll presented Learn-Connect-Share PTSD Awareness.

“Symptoms for PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] can come and go and can happen soon after a trauma or years after a trauma,” she said.

Although it can affect people who have been sexually abused, in a natural disaster or in a serious accident, it’s most common among veterans.

Processing the trauma is important, Groll said. Those who suffer from PTSD can process the trauma and overcome it.

“However, one out of three people continue having PTSD,” she said. “Someone who suffered a trauma can be perfectly fine throughout his or her life, then something can trigger the event and they could experience PTSD.”

Sight, sound or a smell can trigger memories and cause PTSD.

Groll said the brain can make people avoid certain memories by redirecting thoughts to something else. Thus, someone can be fine throughout life until something triggers the memory.

PTSD can also be accompanied by other conditions such as depression, drug and alcohol abuse and anxiety.

During the discussion, veterans questioned how one could overcome seeing someone blown up. Groll suggested exposure therapy and walking through the event to make the brain process the experience.

“Stabilization, which is when all basic needs are met,” is key for a successful therapy, she said.

Veterans voiced concern about explaining their war experience with a therapist who has never been to war and getting the feeling that no one gets what they are going through.

“Trust is extremely important,” Groll said. “Within the first hour, you’ll know if you have a connection.”

Groll also stressed that trust is important because the therapist should be able to “close” what they are ”opening,” meaning that if they make someone open up about the event, then they should be able to help that person process and overcome the event.

As an example, Groll said there is a physical reaction of anxiety caused by PTSD. Anxiety creates a chemical wall in the brain, making it harder to process information such as schoolwork. The more one avoids the trauma, the bigger the chemical wall grows, preventing a person from storing what is learned in class.

“Anything you can do to keep the wall of chemicals from growing will help,” she said.

TCC counselors can help students with therapy, but they are only approved to do three to five sessions.

Groll said if people suffer from PTSD or any of the conditions that come with it, they should apply for Americans with Disabilities Act assistance.

TCC also holds support groups for veterans.

“Don’t wait until you’re older to process your trauma,” she said.

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