Footprints to Recovery, Mental Health Treatment Program in NJ

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Footprints to Recovery Mental Health New Jersey

Trauma and Stress-related Disorders

Living with trauma and stress-related disorders can be challenging. Our mental health facility in New Jersey is well-staffed and equipped to treat symptoms resulting from trauma and stress.

Trauma and Stress-related Disorders

Everyone experiences stress. It’s one of our body’s most basic responses to a wide range of life experiences. However, when feelings of chronic stress or trauma responses impact your ability to live day-to-day, it could be a sign of a more serious trauma or stress-related disorder.

When dealing with overwhelming feelings of stress, learning evidence-based therapy skills to manage your symptoms can be invaluable. Taking the necessary steps toward regaining control over your mind can help you to combat maladaptive behaviors, cope with anxiety-inducing situations, and practice healthy habits to live a more balanced life. During mental health treatment, you can find effective ways to relieve stress to prevent it from affecting your health and happiness.

At Footprints To Recovery, we understand that trauma and chronic stress can take many forms and affect people differently. That is why our mental health facility in Hamilton Township, New Jersey, provides specialized services for those struggling with PTSD, C-PTSD, acute stress disorder, and other trauma and stress-related disorders. Our team of experienced trauma-informed therapists is here to help you get on the path to healing and recovery.

Trauma and Stress-Related Disorders

Trauma and stress-related disorders are an important topic of discussion for mental health professionals, as well as those who may be personally affected by these diagnoses. In today’s world, trauma and stress-related illnesses can take many forms, from extreme cases of PTSD to more common issues like chronic stress.

To fully understand the various types of trauma and stress-related disorders, it’s important to know their causes, symptoms, and treatments. Learning more about these conditions can help people dealing with trauma and stress obtain the resources they need to move forward.


The healing process can pose many challenges - all of which can be difficult to cope with on your own.

Our team of licensed mental health professionals can help you manage your symptoms and create a new, more fulfilling life.


We accept most major insurance provider plans.

If you have coverage of any kind, we will work with you to determine your benefits for mental health treatment. Any information you share with us is kept strictly confidential.

Trauma-Related Disorders

In general, traumatic experiences can be first-hand exposure to danger or witnessing a life-threatening event, such as a natural disaster, an accident, an act of violence, or war.  The aftermath of such events can be challenging for an individual to process, leading to increased levels of anxiety.

After someone has experienced a traumatic event, it is normal to feel overwhelmed or even numb. However, when a traumatic event leads to persistent thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of helplessness or fear, it could be indicative of a trauma-related disorder. 

Types of PTSD

In many cases, people develop trauma-related disorders following exposure to trauma. The most common trauma-related disorder is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

When receiving a PTSD diagnosis, this disorder is categorized into two major types.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder is characterized by experiencing, witnessing, or being confronted with a traumatic event and persistently re-experiencing that traumatic event. This trauma-related disorder results from severe psychological distress following an emotionally-charged situation, such as a natural disaster or combat.

Post-traumatic stress disorder can be either acute, in which symptoms last less than 3 months, or chronic, with symptoms for 3 months or more. PTSD symptoms can also have a delayed onset, which means that symptoms do not start immediately after experiencing the traumatic event. In fact, symptoms of PTSD can begin upwards of six months after the event.

Common Symptoms of PTSD

PTSD is a severe trauma and stress-related disorder caused by experiencing a traumatic event. People with PTSD can experience symptoms such as:

These symptoms can make it difficult to live a normal life and perform everyday activities. Fortunately, there is help available for those struggling with trauma or PTSD. Mental health professionals are trained to support people in managing these symptoms and cultivating healthy coping strategies that can aid in the healing process. 

DSM-V Criteria for PTSD

Symptoms of PTSD are split into five major categories of criteria, with three other qualifying criteria listed in the DSM V. The diagnostic criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder include the following:

Exposure To Danger

Exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence in one (or more) of the following ways:

This does not apply to digital media, TV, movies, or pictures unless this exposure is work-related.

Re-experiencing Symptoms

Presence of one or more of the following intrusion symptoms associated with the traumatic event, beginning after the traumatic event occurred:

Flashbacks may occur consistently and cause a complete loss of awareness of present surroundings.

Avoidance Symptoms

Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with trauma, beginning after the traumatic event occurred, as evidenced by one or both of the following:

Avoidant behavior restricts contact with people, places, and situations, often leading to total self-isolation.

Cognitive and Mood Symptoms

Those with PTSD experience negative alterations in cognitive function and mood regulation relating to the traumatic event. These changes begin or worsen after the traumatic event in two or more ways:

Cognitive distortion can include beliefs like: “It's all my fault,” “People are dangerous,” and “I’m broken."

Arousal and Reactivity Symptoms

Changes in arousal and reactivity (reactions) relating to trauma, beginning or worsening after the traumatic event, including two or more of the following:

These new or worsened reactions often present as verbal or physical aggression toward people or objects.

Symptoms Cause Distress and Impairment

The trauma and stress-related symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in work, socialization, or other important areas of life.

Duration of Symptoms

The duration of your trauma and stress-related symptoms lasts longer than 1 month.

Source of Symptoms

The trauma and stress-related symptoms are not the result of substance use — whether it is medication or alcohol — or another medical condition.

Complex Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

According to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) is a distinct trauma-related disorder separate from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Although the addition of C-PTSD as an independent disorder is relatively new, it has long been recognized as having different symptoms and causes in comparison to PTSD.  In general, complex PTSD is typically the result of long-lasting exposure to trauma, often occurring over the course of several years or even decades.

As a result, people with complex PTSD commonly experience symptoms such as:

ICD-11 Criteria for C-PTSD

In 2018, the World Health Organization released the ICD-11 which included the addition of CPTSD as an independent diagnosis. C-PTSD is defined as one of the two symptoms from the DSM-IV criteria for PTSD including:

In addition, C-PTSD also requires one symptom from each of the three domains of Disturbances of Self-Organization (DSO) including:

The distinction between PTSD and C-PTSD found in ICD-11 reflects the differentiating factors and offers a deeper understanding of complex trauma. In doing so, it established an evidence-based diagnostic tool that acknowledges the unique difficulties individuals with complex PTSD face on a daily basis. While C-PTSD is not currently recognized as a distinct disorder in the DSM-V, the manual has since expanded the diagnostic criteria for PTSD to include a wider range of symptoms that result from complex trauma.

When assessing a client with trauma-related symptoms, C-PTSD is assessed in much the same way as PTSD. However, it is important for clinicians to take into account the cause of trauma, the duration of exposure, and the symptoms experienced by an individual when determining an accurate diagnosis.

Emotional Dysregulation

Emotional regulation is one of the key distinguishing features between PTSD and C-PTSD. Individuals with C-PTSD often exhibit difficulty managing intense feelings such as anger, sadness, fear, and shame. This can manifest itself in a variety of behaviors such as aggression, depression, self-harm, substance abuse, and suicidal ideation. While these symptoms may be present in someone with PTSD, they will be more severe and pervasive in individuals with C-PTSD.

Individuals with C-PTSD often have difficulty regulating their emotions due to the traumatic experiences they have endured. Rather than having a healthy ability to process and manage emotions, these individuals may become overwhelmed by their emotions and find it difficult to cope. They may also have difficulty recognizing or understanding their own emotions, often resulting in feelings of confusion and anxiety. Additionally, individuals with C-PTSD may struggle to develop a strong sense of self due to the lack of safety they experienced as children.

Negative Self-concept

C-PTSD can also lead to a negative self-concept, meaning that individuals may view themselves in a negative way and focus on their flaws. This can lead to feelings of shame, guilt, and inadequacy. Furthermore, survivors of C-PTSD may struggle with self-esteem due to the lack of validation they received as children. Growing up with an invalidating parent or caregiver can lead to difficulty in trusting oneself and feeling worthy.

Feelings of guilt, shame, and self-loathing can lead to destructive behavior such as substance abuse, self-harm, and impulsivity. Individuals with C-PTSD may struggle to cope with their emotions and instead turn to these unhealthy behaviors in order to manage them. Additionally, survivors may have a hard time finding fulfilling relationships due to difficulty with trust and understanding healthy boundaries.

Difficulties in Relationships

In general, individuals with C-PTSD may find it difficult to trust others and to feel safe in the world. People with complex trauma often experienced it as a child and has a profound impact on one’s ability to form healthy relationships later in life. People with C-PTSD tend to avoid situations that remind them of their trauma. As a result, they can be easily startled by loud noises or quick movements, and have difficulty sleeping due to nightmares and intrusive thoughts. Due to the near-constant presence of fear, they may struggle with maintaining relationships due to feelings of disconnection, guilt, and mistrust.

Commonly, individuals with C-PTSD may have difficulty recognizing their own needs and feelings, which can result in them feeling overwhelmed or acting out when they experience strong emotions. This lack of emotional regulation can lead to angry outbursts, passive-aggressive behavior, or a tendency to withdraw from relationships altogether. On the other hand, individuals with C-PTSD may also engage in people-pleasing behaviors to avoid feeling judged or rejected. They often struggle to maintain boundaries with loved ones, leading them to stay in unhealthy relationships for longer than they should or to avoid forming intimate connections altogether.


The difference between PTSD and C-PTSD is the length of the trauma itself and how it will be treated. Ongoing trauma is typically indicative of complex PTSD while a singular traumatic event is suggestive of PTSD. 

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder is complex, as the name suggests, and usually is diagnosed in individuals who have experienced continuous trauma. C-PTSD typically needs to be treated with intensive therapy, over a longer period of time, as C-PTSD symptoms can last for months to years after the trauma occurs. 

PTSD and C-PTSD can have symptoms of the same severity, however, the cause and length of these symptoms are emblematic of one disorder over the other. 

Dangers of PTSD and C-PTSD

PTSD symptoms may include confusion, disorientation, and fear. If the reactions are intense enough, they can interfere with an individual’s ability to function or maintain physical safety. For example, if a person suddenly loses awareness of what is going on around them and acts out aggressively as a result, it could lead to harm to themselves or others. Therefore, recognizing the indicators of PTSD and C-PTSD in order to seek professional help is crucial.

C-PTSD, however, can have more subtle symptoms that may be hard to recognize if one is not familiar with trauma psychology. These include a sense of feeling lost or disconnected from the present moment; difficulty trusting and forming relationships; an easily triggered fight, flight, or freeze response to perceived threats; and a distorted sense of guilt or shame. Additionally, due to the prolonged nature of C-PTSD, individuals with this condition may have difficulty regulating their emotions, become easily overwhelmed by stressors, and experience suicidal ideation or self-harming behaviors.

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Stress-Related Disorders

Many disorders arise due to stress or stressors that can have persistent and severe symptoms as well. Stress-related disorders are fairly common, especially in today’s age. These disorders have varying symptoms and criteria for diagnosis, and some are short in length or acute, while others can be chronic.

In many cases, people develop stress-related disorders following exposure to chronic stress. Chronic stress is the long-term buildup of stress that has gone on for months or even years. It can be caused by work, life events, relationships, environment, family history, or any other number of factors. Stress can lead to physical and mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, headaches, migraines, a weakened immune system, and a myriad of other physical and emotional conditions.

Types of Stress Disorders

In many cases, people develop stress-related disorders following exposure to chronic stress. 

There a several different types of stress disorders.

Acute Stress Disorder (ASD)

Acute stress disorder (ASD) can occur after you experience a traumatic event. This stress-related disorder is commonly associated with an intense fear that excessively interferes with daily activities and functioning for at least one month after the trauma has occurred. 

It is important to seek treatment for acute stress disorder, as it can lead to more serious mental health issues such as PTSD if left untreated.

Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)

Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) is a stress-related disorder that affects how a person forms and maintains relationships. RAD is characterized by difficulty forming secure attachments with primary caregivers, often leading to severe problems with emotional regulation, trust, and social interactions. 

Symptoms of reactive attachment disorder may include:

Usually, reactive attachment disorder is diagnosed in infancy or early childhood and can last into adulthood without the proper treatment.

Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder (DSED)

Disinhibited social engagement disorder (DSED) is a mental health disorder in which individuals engage in inappropriate social behaviors.

DSED is usually seen in young children, although it can occur in adults. It’s important to get help for DSED as early as possible because the disorder can interfere with social relationships and lead to serious psychological problems if left untreated.

Adjustment Disorders

Adjustment disorders are a type of mental health condition that can be caused by major life stressors, such as divorce or the loss of a job. When going through an adjustment period in life, people who struggle to cope with change can develop an adjustment disorder.

Signs and symptoms of an adjustment disorder include:

While adjustment disorders often start as feelings of general stress and anxiety, it’s important to get help because symptoms can worsen and lead to more serious mental health problems if left untreated.

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How Do Stress-Related Disorders Occur?

Often, people develop stress-related disorders due to their environment, whether that is an abusive upbringing, a toxic workplace, or a dismissive partner. When put in high-stress environments, people with contributing psychological and genetic factors are more likely to push themselves until their mental health suffers.

Factors that contribute to the development of stress-related disorders can include: 

Environmental and genetic risk factors can affect the development of an individual’s ability to cope with stress, leading to an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and other stress-related disorders. Similarly, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can lead to stress disorders. More often than not, children who lack the proper love and care during early development aren’t taught healthy stress management techniques. Those who struggle to cope with childhood trauma as adults also tend to struggle with stress-related mental health issues.

In general, first-hand exposure to trauma and secondhand trauma, where a person is exposed to trauma through another person’s experience, can contribute to stress. These traumatic experiences can alter the way a person perceives the world around them and can manifest in different ways, such as difficulty managing stress levels.

People with pre-existing health conditions may also be more prone to developing a stress-related disorder due to existing chronic issues that can amplify their experience of stress. This can include people living with mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or bipolar disorder. This also includes those living with chronic physical health conditions, such as autoimmune diseases, heart disease, diabetes, and chronic pain.

Symptoms of Stress-Related Disorders

The symptoms of stress-related disorders vary greatly depending on the type of disorder present. Stress can present with physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral symptoms that can cause immense levels of distress.

Common signs and symptoms of stress-related disorders can include: 

When you experience stress, your body releases hormones that can have many physical effects. Common physical symptoms of stress can include:

The Negative Effects Of Chronic Stress

When people experience high levels of stress or undergo stress for a long period of time, the physical and mental effects can get worse. Stress disorders can also lead to feelings of guilt or shame. Another common occurrence is the sense of burnout, or feeling overwhelmed and exhausted with no end in sight. 

As a result, people often struggle to stay on top of their responsibilities, both at work and in their personal lives. In some cases, people may engage in self-destructive behaviors such as drinking or drug abuse in an attempt to cope with the stress they are feeling.

Treatment For Trauma and Stress Disorders

At Footprints to Recovery Mental Health, we provide a comprehensive range of services to support individuals with trauma and stress-related disorders. Our treatment approach involves evidence-based therapies and medication to effectively manage symptoms of PTSD, ASD, and other disorders related to stress and trauma. Our dedicated team of mental health professionals is committed to helping you follow the path to recovery. We offer unique levels of care to ensure that everyone can find a safe and effective treatment plan tailored to their specific needs. Helping you overcome stress and trauma is our shared goal.

“We take pride in our work and are committed to making each of our clients happy.”

Processing Trauma and Recovering From Stress

If you are seeking trauma-informed therapy services for yourself or a loved one, Footprints to Recovery Mental Health can help. Our team of mental health professionals is here to help, and we provide a range of evidence-based treatments designed to reduce the impact of trauma. We also offer support resources that encourage self-care and meaningful coping skills.

As you recover from trauma, it is important to remember that recovery takes time and there is no specific timeline for how long it will take. Trauma recovery is an individual process that looks different for everyone since each person’s experience of trauma is unique and personal. 

No matter what stage of recovery you are in, our treatment professionals can provide support and guidance to help you move forward. Our clinicians are trained and experienced in trauma-informed care and understand the importance of creating a safe and supportive environment. If you feel overwhelmed by the effects of trauma, please reach out for professional help.

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