Dr. Tracy Latz, M.D., M.S. is a respected, board-certified, practicing Integrative Psychiatrist who has worked in the past “in the trenches” in a regional state psychiatric hospital and in local county mental health center systems in North Carolina as well as in community hospital settings. She has done both inpatient and outpatient work with the seriously mentally ill. Dr. Latz received her bachelor degree in Biology from Wake Forest University, a masters degree in Immunobiology from Georgetown University, and her medical degree from Wake Forest University Medical School/Bowman Gray School of Medicine. She is now in solo private integrative psychiatric practice in Mooresville, a suburb of Charlotte, NC. She has written a landmark article on PTSD/Dissociative Disorders in a peer-reviewed journal, co-authored 2 books on personal transformation, recorded 2 meditation CDs to assist others with creating inner peace, filmed self-help integrative medicine videos, and has contributed to or been interviewed by many mainstream media outlets including CNN, Good Housekeeping, SELF, Glamour, AOL Health, Woman’s Day, Fitness, Whole Living, and Health – to name a few. You can find out more about Dr. Latz at www.shiftyourlife.com
Retraumatization? Anniversary Reactions & PTSD
I have heard many people over the years describe feeling significant reactions to anniversary dates of traumas experienced by self or others. On the anniversary of traumatic events, some people may find that they experience an increase in distressing memories or intrusive thoughts of the event. Even if you are not a veteran of war or a survivor of direct physical or sexual trauma, you can likely relate to feelings you might have over significant traumatic dates in history such as the terrorist bombings, military coupes, the ‘Twin Tower horrors’ of 9/11, the tsunamis in India and Japan, or other natural catastrophes around the world.
On the anniversary of going through a trauma, some trauma survivors or witnesses have an increase in emotional or physical distress. These “anniversary reactions” can range from feeling mildly upset, irritable or near-tearful for a day or two to a more extreme reaction with more severe mental health or medical symptoms.
Why do some people have anniversary reactions?
The awareness of an anniversary date itself may trigger a memory. For example, in a case such as the September 11, 2001, attacks, the date serves as a strong reminder… especially this year with it being the 10th anniversary of the event and it being plastered all over the media. Since people refer to those attacks with the date on which they occurred, it is hard for anyone who knows about that event to go through that day without being reminded of what happened, where they were when it occurred, etc. There may also be other subconscious reminders of the trauma apart from the date itself. Sometimes memories appear to “come from out of the blue”. They may occur to you while you are dreaming, at work, home, watching television or a movie, or even when relaxing.
Anniversary reactions may occur because of the way an emotionally overwhelming traumatic experience is stored in memory. Memories of trauma contain data of events and emotions as well as hindsight information about the danger that the trauma involved- and how “if we’d only known” we might have avoided or escaped it. The memory serves to make us more aware of when we should be afraid, how we should look at similar situations, how to feel in similar situations, and what to think. For example, a Read More→