Dr. Colleen Cira is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist who specializes in Women and Trauma, so she has worked with hundreds of people struggling with PTSD or Complex PTSD. Here are a few talking points on the subject of PTSD:
Why is it harder for women to admit they have the disorder?
- If I may, I’d like to rewind back for a second because a lot of women simply don’t know they have PTSD! Women often internalize—it means instead of searching for answers in their world or circumstance, they assume that something is wrong with THEM. So they might not attribute their own thoughts, feelings or behaviors to something that happened to them because they just figure this is who they are.
- If they do know they struggle with it though, women often feel the need to be perfect. So admitting to something that they perceive as a “weakness” may feel like the very last thing they want to do. Women are constantly sent the message that they need to do it all and do it all very well, which of course isn’t possible, but it doesn’t change the fact that we still FEEL that way and live with that kind of pressure.
What are some of the reasons why women have it?
- Women and men can have PTSD for a whole host of reasons. PTSD comes from a trauma of some sort. And trauma can be defined as any scary or disturbing event that overwhelms our ability to cope. Trauma can include things that you would typically think of as trauma (war veterans, car accidents, rape, physical assault, etc) as well as difficult childhoods and/or subpar parenting.
- Things like this may have included: physical, sexual, verbal and/or emotional abuse; divorce/separation; a caretaker who struggled with their own physical/mental illness; a caretaker who suffered from addiction, etc.
How can women get treatment—without feeling bad or guilty?
- Trauma is often misunderstood, both in the Psychological community and the general population. Most people tend to only think of trauma as war or a car accident, which are obviously very significant events, but far fewer people are impacted by these events as opposed to difficult childhoods. So the first step is identifying a provider who is trauma-informed. Someone who understands the trauma needs to be broadly defined and impacts the entire person, including thoughts, feelings, behavior, relationships, and self-image.
- The first part of any true trauma treatment is normalizing the symptoms and experiences of someone who is struggling with PTSD/Complex PTSD so that will help somewhat with the guilt, but making peace with a difficult past is a long process and dealing with the guilt is no exception. But with the right therapist, there is absolutely hope.
Available for Interviews: Dr. Colleen Cira, Psy.D.
Dr. Colleen Cira received both her Masters and Doctorate from The Illinois School of Professional Psychology and is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in the State of Illinois. She’s the Founder and Executive Director of Cira Center for Behavioral Health, PC, a boutique group practice specializing in Women and Trauma with locations in Chicago and Oak Park.
She was named one of the “Top 100 Women in Chicago Making a Difference,” by Today’s Chicago Woman. Dr. Cira is a trauma and anxiety expert, clinical supervisor, writer, speaker, consultant, activist, wife, and Mommy to two little ones.
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