Can Dancing Cause PTSD?
After being fired by my new director, I started having nightmares and avoided class for a few months. The company was my home for over a decade. It’s only with the help of my friends and family that I’ve slowly begun to imagine a meaningful life working in children’s theater. Will the fear and stress ever go away?
—Traumatized Dancer, Philadelphia, PA
It’s smart to surround yourself with family and friends because emotional support can make a huge difference in your ability to cope with stress and reimagine the future. However, it sounds like you may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and need professional help. (To locate a therapist, visit www.ptsd.va.gov/public/where-to-get-help.asp.) But there’s good news about PTSD recovery: A recent article published in the Monitor on Psychology estimates that up to two-thirds of people who experience trauma can have positive growth afterwards if they are open to new experiences and seek out connections with others, as you’re doing. The key is to deal with your feelings with an experienced therapist who can foster resilience. Then focus on your progress. At that point, your fear and stress should lessen. While getting let go is definitely a shock, it’s possible to use this opportunity to start a positive new chapter of your career.
Send your questions to Dr. Linda Hamilton at [email protected].