People who’ve faced a significant trauma sometimes develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the name given when a person struggles greatly after a very difficult situation. It has been described as a “normal reaction to an abnormal situation.” Do you or someone you know struggle with PTSD? Do you wonder, “Will I ever be normal again?” PTSD affects many more people than combat veterans and those who endured 9/11 closeup and personal.
- 70 percent of adults in the U.S. have experienced some type of traumatic event at least once in their lives. That’s 223.4 million people.
- Up to 20 percent of these people go on to develop PTSD. As of today, that’s 31.3 million people who did or are struggling with PTSD.
- An estimated 8 percent of Americans – that’s 24.4 million people – have PTSD at any given time.
- An estimated 1 out of 10 women develops PTSD; women are about twice as likely as men.
- Among people who are victims of a severe traumatic experience 60 to 80 percent will develop PTSD.
(The above statistics come from http://www.psyweb.com/users/healmyptsd/index.jsp.)
1. You are not alone.
2. There is hope.
Tragically, among the deepest crises leading to the PTSD label is sexual abuse. This trauma sickens the soul and messes with the mind, spirit, and body for years, even decades. The effects range from paralyzing fears to physiological symptoms, as well as identity struggles and damaged relationships. Many believers who experienced sexual abuse may ask, “Where was God?” and “Why didn’t he stop it?” According to the Sidran Institute, people who experienced specific traumas such as rape, child abuse, and violent assaults often feel isolated, guilty, trapped, and confused. They may suffer from many symptoms such as depression, addictions, self-abuse, and suicidal thoughts. There’s hope. Says biblical counselor and author David Powlison:
“Your recovery will be a process of learning and remembering those two truths—you are not alone and there is hope—not just once, but over and over. Think about how bread gets made. It must be kneaded so that the yeast goes through the whole loaf. These two truths must be kneaded into who you are until they work through every part of you. The working of these truths into the deepest part of you takes time. The damage you suffered may have been done in one or more terrible moments; the healing and the restoration unfolds at a human pace. It unfolds at your pace. It unfolds as part of your story, and it unfolds over time.”
Lindy Abbott, a Christian blogger, wife, and mother, suffered abuse as a young child so severe that she developed PTSD. She told me she unknowingly used a coping skill called dissociation to survive ongoing trauma. It protects her from awareness of the pain in the short run, but a person who dissociates often may find in the long run she has relationship difficulties and inability to function. As Lindy writes at her blog, Abuse and Trauma Hope,
“It is at this precise moment [of abuse] that the child unconsciously begins to protect the soul from utter destruction by separating the harmful/abusive experiences into hidden places in the soul. The mind does this without needing the child to actively think about what she needs to do to survive, it as an unconscious act of self-preservation.”
Lindy says this about her abuse:
“My life began in trauma and abuse as a child, affecting who I am, how I see, and how I feel. The abuse was hell but God has used it for good. Truly, God has used what was meant for evil to be good in my life and to conform me to Christ Jesus. I see things deeply. I feel deeply too. Sometimes really good, sometimes really bad. While I love to laugh and be silly, I am burdened by the seriousness of eternity.”
Help for All
Awful memories may haunt someone with PTSD. Condemning words like “you are dirty and ugly” may invade her thoughts. What happened was horrible, but the truth is that she is not dirty or ugly. You can apply the truth to your horrible situation. “Because of her faith in Christ she can apply the truth that she is clothed in the righteousness of Christ and she is precious and loved. She can apply the truth of who she is in Christ to the truth of her past experiences,” says biblical counselor Eliza Jane Huie with Life Counseling Center. Each of us needs to remember who we are in Christ and apply this truth to past experience, even trauma. Expect to apply the truth over and over and over again. “Having a painful past that still hurts is an opportunity to build a deeper confidence in the truth of God’s Word and what it says about you,” Huie says. “This is not an exercise in positive thinking. It is telling gospel truth to yourself. As you speak gospel truth to horrible situations you’ve faced, let it make you desperate for God and for the love He has for you.”
Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 1 John 3:18–19, 23, ESV
COUNSELING: Whether you or a loved one another trauma, know that God heals in his timing, and his timing is always right. Do you want to talk with someone confidentially about your pain? Please contact us. We have male and female certified biblical counselors at our various Chicago offices who counsel in person and by Skype. You may self-schedule an in-person appointment. If you’d like a Skype appointment, please get in touch because we have many more Skype hours available.
Is there really help?I had been. seen by so many.because of the police.Police brutally in 1990. To this day I am still suffering from pstd medication does not help.and the side effects were awful.I had to learned how to live.not a very help one even being a christian.Also around this time my father molested me .This has caused serious problem for my marriage It is all my fault.
Yes, Linda, there is help and hope. You describe deep suffering. This is sin committed against you. It hurts. We’ve counseled many who also have been sinned against. The Lord has answers that provide healing. Please contact us and you can talk to one of our trained biblical Counselors in person or by Skype.
May you stay hopeful as our great God comforts you.
Please help me. I’m in deepdespair of anxiety and depression. Seems God forsaken me. I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD but don’t know how true that is,all o know is I wish God would come get me today
God is with you. He loves you. Contact me. Email me at . –Lucy Ann Moll
Thank you for posting this Lucy!
You are so welcome, Wanda. You and Shelly Beach wrote an entire devotion to help PTSD sufferers, didn’t you? Blessings, Lucy
Thank you for this article, let’s me know I am not one.
I lost a child and shortly after joined a church. The church was very legalistic and fearful. Then I started developing PTSD. It’s hard when you want God, but are triggered by things in church. Lord help me!
I would like to receive newsletter of events/worshops.
I am suffering badly from ptsd and need help so i stop the pain and reactions
Hi Andrew, may we encourage you to reach out to a biblical counselor in your area or to one here are Biblical Counseling Center? We have counselors who meet by Skype/Facetime. Simply contact us.
I have had PTSD for many years due to years of sexual abuse and also several traumatic assaults. The first hurdle was understanding that they weren’t my fault. The biggest help is knowing that I’m fully loved by God. The ongoing challenge is the feeling of fighting with my own brain. PTSD isn’t about consciously thinking about memories. It’s about the brain involuntarily bringing up responses to perceived threats. My brain continues to react to men in various circumstances, when I have no conscious sense of feeling uncomfortable. I’m now working on more imbedding of scripture, hoping to help heal the brain at the unconscious level. Is there any research on this ?
Thanks for sharing! There is lots of research on post traumatic stress and its effect on brain structure. Google it and see what you find. Another excellent resource is Brad Hambrick’s seminar series on PTS. Here’s the link: http://bradhambrick.com/ptsd/
Let us know how it goes. –LAM
Hi, my name is Nancy. My son has PTSD. He was in the Navy and was on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier. After a few very difficult years where we didn’t know what was happening, the family finally convinced him to seek help from the VA. Which he did for a while. He is not doing well in my opinion and thinks that he can either cope on his own or that no one else can help. What can I do? I pray fervently every day and God has told me to trust Him, but it’s still very difficult.
What is the cost? Do you take insurance? I’ve only had negative counseling experiences and am pretty convinced that nobody can understand, but nobody would have to understand what I’m fighting to just teach the truth of the Bible and how it applies to ptsd. I’m desperate enough to try again, if you think it can truly help me to hear, know, and be lead by God rather than controlled by whatever this is.
Hi Em, thanks for reaching out. We pray your experience with biblical counseling will prove helpful! Our stated fee is $120 for an initial 90-minute session and $80 for a regular. Please also note that we offer reduced fees. Call our center at 847-398-7193 and schedule an in-person or Skype counseling session. We look forward to serving you.
I am not a doctor, but I do have PTSD. And no it is not from child or sexual abuse. I have suffered a great deal of trauma since I was 12 yrs. old that still goes on today, plus nearly losing my life 3 times. I don’t trust counselors or whatever they’re called. I only trust ministers in my family that have watched me live and grow up going through one trial after another. They’ve seen it and they’re the only ones that even comes close to understanding me besides myself. Any stranger with a PHD that can look at me and say they understand me is a liar. They don’t even know me. Maybe that’s why you’re having a hard time.
I was diagnosed with ptsd about 2 years ago. It manifested as a result of childhood abuse. Mainly emotional abuse and some physical. I witnessed the sudden death of a beloved grandmother as a teenager. In addition, I was in a couple of tragic auto accidents that occurred in adulthood. God can take evil and turn it into good. As a child, I witnessed the torture of beloved animals. As an adult, I have Rescued and rehabilitated and rehomed many horses that were neglected by their owner. I’ve lead a grief ministry at our church for people who have lost a loved one. I am a Christian, and I still struggle daily with anxiety and depression but manage it with counseling and medication. God has given me trusted people, resources, and coping skills. I believe this will be my thorn in the flesh, but at least it keeps me humble and sensitive to others who struggle with the same thing.
I have to say your a God sent. Today was a huge gift and your web page was the icing. You see I was in a violent plane crash, that crashed on take off and sunk…….it was my medivac. I have been struggling for over 27 years with what I thought were hot flashes and menopausal symptoms. They have gotten so bad I can not function and today I realized that PTS has the same type of signals and knowledge is power. I feel more confident that I can concur this hurdle through Christ my Lord. Thank you for your faith based approach to healing worldly challenges!
I have been a firefighter for 36 years. Sometimes I think I have PTSD but I’m not sure. What are significant indications ?
Hi Rob, “PTSD” has been described as a “normal reaction to an abnormal situation.” The significant indications are many and they vary person to person. A few are “flashbacks,” a general sense of anxiety, and hypervigilance, and many others. If you’re interested, you could meet with one of our counselors in person or by Skype/FaceTime. Please stay in touch.
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I need help. The Christians in my life have no idea how to help. some think that I am in sin and that everything happened when I was a kid more then 30 years ago there is no reason I should still be dealing with all this. Just trust God! Others believe me and don’t think I am in sin or crazy but have no idea how to help. Or what to say. I can’t hold down a job, I can’t get a college degree. I can’t even get my small business off the ground. I am homeless (living in a friends spare room), and just can’t afford counseling. The free counseling from the mental health people do nothing to help. All I have gotten out of it is the PTSD and depression diagnosis.
Yes, sometimes people say hurtful things! It sounds like you endured an event or events. Very often churches have ministries to help the hurting. Rarely do they charge a fee. Perhaps you could try this route. Let us know how it goes.
How does your response help Marguerite? With all the resources at your disposal and network of continuing education of professionals from all over the nation, Could your response not have been more effective by offering to speak to her directly, if only to find out if there were any organizations you might connect her to? The BiBiCenter would be in a pivotal position to locate a ministry local to her equipped to offer her services that would actually aid her in recovering. Because the way I see it, your answer was like a carrot on a stick, another beacon of hope just out of reach. As a PTSD sufferer, reading your response leaves me let down and deflated. Perhaps that’s my empathy or projection, either way I feel the BiBiCenter let her down.
Thanks for your comment, Thesesa. BCC often provides reduced-fee counseling to individuals who ask. It is among our policies posted on our website: It reads, “We have never turned away anyone for counseling in the past 29 years and we will work with anyone of any income level. We do not have a set sliding scale but rather we ask you to call the office from 8:30-1:30 CST to ask about financial assistance.” It also is our hope that every hurting sister and brother in Christ is connected to a local church in order to worship God corporately, receive prayer, be known, and serve. And so we encourage people including those who have post-traumatic stress to seek pastoral guidance as well. Thanks again for your deep concern.
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What does God say about Bipolar Disorder?
Thank you for your question, Angela. An excellent resource that speaks to BiPolar from a biblical standpoint is Good Mood, Bad Mood by Charles Hodges, MD. Here’s a link to it on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Good-Mood-Bad-Depression-Disorder-ebook/dp/B009ZVT2TU/ref=sr_1_6?keywords=biblical+counseling+and+bipolar&qid=1561573549&s=gateway&sr=8-6
The best to you!
I have tried to post now for 20 minutes now but just keep deleting what I have written. I’m a Spirit-fill Christian with PTSD because of an abusive childhood. I feel very misunderstood and even condemned by church ministry. They really don’t have a clue about this disorder and seem to think it is because of spiritual lack. I feel so alone in my struggle for healing. My pastor goes as far as preaching against depression, medication and seeking “secular” counseling. I have been disabled for 18 years. I just barely scrape by. I cannot afford counseling that is not covered by Medicaid/ medicare. I feel very torn. I would like to stay in my present church, but feel like whenever i talk to people there I am just given trite answers. All I get are childrens ministry bible lessons. Idk?
Michelle, we’re go glad you left your comment despite all the technical difficulties! Yes, some pastors do not understand (or come across as antagonist) toward people like you who have had significant trauma. If you think it would help, make an appointment with your pastor and share your story, seeking help and understanding. But perhaps speaking with a trusted Christian friend may prove more helpful. As for counseling, another church in your area may have a counseling ministry though many don’t (which is why we offer with churches to help them start one). You could always contact us for counseling too. We offer biblical counseling in person and by Skype and FaceTime and have reduced fees available, thanks to our donors who support our mission.
My 46 yr old son is diagnosed with ADD and Chronic Major Depression with traces of paranoia. He is jobless and can’t afford counseling. He has a saving faith in Jesus. His daily struggle with depression and ADD makes it difficult to hold a job. Therefore he has no health insurance. I heard BBC is donor supported. Can my son receive counseling at a significantly reduced fee? WE live in Arlington Heights, IL.
I sent you an email to find out more info. We are happy to see if we can help and we offer financial assistance to those in need because of the generous donations of many to BCC.
I have never understood why Christian Counseling services do not accept Medicaid/Medicare. These are usually the most vulnerable people that need the gospel of Christ and real physical care. Most are impoverished and lost. Isn’t this our mission? To reach the sick and hurting.
While we don’t accept medicare or medicaid, we raise funds to help those in need. Last year, more than $175,000 subsidized and free counseling was offered to those in need and was provided by generous donors who simply want to help those in need. Every one of our counselors will help people with this same generous heart and we don’t turn away anyone for financial need. If we can help, please feel free to contact the office and ask about financial assistance to help you get started with counseling.