The Mighty Logo

Simone Biles Shows We Can’t Treat Anxiety From Trauma the Same as Generalized Anxiety

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles, who was recently named ESPN’s Most Dominant Athlete of the Year, opened up about her mental health on Tuesday’s segment of Good Morning America. Biles was one of over 156 gymnasts sexually assaulted by Larry Nassar, a former USA gymnastics doctor who was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison in January.

When asked about how she’s been processing everything she said,

It’s definitely not easy… I still go to therapy, and I’m on anxiety medicine now because I had a lot of ups and downs throughout the year and trying to figure out what was wrong. So, I go to therapy pretty regularly. It’s not easy, but the people surrounding me are some of the best so it makes it a little easier.

Experiencing mental health difficulties without knowing what’s “wrong” is something many trauma survivors can relate to. For many trauma survivors, a struggle with anxiety or depression on the surface might hint at unaddressed trauma.

This is something Mighty contributor Vicki Peterson explored in her piece, “We Can’t Keep Treating Anxiety From Complex Trauma the Same Way We Treat Generalized Anxiety.”

It is possible (and likely) that someone suffering from the effects of complex trauma is also feeling anxious and depressed, but there is a difference to the root cause. Many effective strategies that treat anxiety and depression don’t work for trauma survivors. Meditation and mindfulness techniques that make one more aware of their environment sometimes can produce an opposite effect on a trauma survivor.  Trauma survivors often don’t need more awareness. They need to feel safe and secure in spite of what their awareness is telling them.

If you struggling with anxiety or depression you think might be related to past trauma, you’re not alone. Though classic methods for treating generalized anxiety or depression don’t always work for trauma survivors, therapeutic methods such as Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), Exposure Therapy or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) have helped many.

If you or someone you love has experienced trauma, you might relate to the following stories:

Image via Wikimedia Commons/Agência Brasil Fotografias

Originally published: December 12, 2018
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home