EMOTIONAL AND PHYSIOLOGICAL TRAUMA

If you’ve gone through a traumatic
experience, you may be struggling with
upsetting emotions, frightening memories,
or a sense of constant danger. Or you may
feel numb, disconnected, and unable to
trust other people. When bad things
happen, it can take a while to get over the
pain and feel safe again. But with the right
treatment, self-help strategies, and support,
you can speed your recovery. Whether the
traumatic event happened years ago or
yesterday, you can heal and move on.
What is emotional and
psychological trauma?
Emotional and psychological trauma is the
result of extraordinarily stressful events
that shatter your sense of security, making
you feel helpless and vulnerable in a
dangerous world.
Traumatic experiences often involve a
threat to life or safety, but any situation
that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and
alone can be traumatic, even if it doesn’t
involve physical harm. It’s not the objective
facts that determine whether an event is
traumatic, but your subjective emotional
experience of the event. The more
frightened and helpless you feel, the more
likely you are to be traumatized.
Causes of emotional or psychological
trauma
An event will most likely lead to emotional
or psychological trauma if:
It happened
unexpectedly.
You were
unprepared for
it.
You felt
powerless to
prevent it.
It happened
repeatedly.
Someone was
intentionally
cruel.
It happened in
childhood.
Emotional and psychological trauma can be
caused by single-blow, one-time events,
such as a horrible accident, a natural
disaster, or a violent attack. Trauma can
also stem from ongoing, relentless stress,
such as living in a crime-ridden
neighborhood or struggling with cancer.
Commonly overlooked causes of
emotional and psychological trauma
Falls or sports
injuries
Surgery
(especially in
the first 3
years of life)
The sudden
death of
someone close
A car accident
The breakup
of a
significant
relationship
A humiliating
or deeply
disappointing
experience
The discovery
of a life-
threatening
illness or
disabling
condition
Risk factors that increase your
vulnerability to trauma
Not all potentially traumatic events lead to
lasting emotional and psychological damage.
Some people rebound quickly from even the
most tragic and shocking experiences.
Others are devastated by experiences that,
on the surface, appear to be less upsetting.
A number of risk factors make people
susceptible to emotional and psychological
trauma. People are more likely to be
traumatized by a stressful experience if
they’re already under a heavy stress load or
have recently suffered a series of losses.
People are also more likely to be
traumatized by a new situation if they’ve
been traumatized before – especially if the
earlier trauma occurred in childhood.
Childhood trauma increases the risk of
future trauma
Experiencing trauma in childhood can have
a severe and long-lasting effect. Children
who have been traumatized see the world
as a frightening and dangerous place.
When childhood trauma is not resolved,
this fundamental sense of fear and
helplessness carries over into adulthood,
setting the stage for further trauma.
Childhood trauma results from anything
that disrupts a child’s sense of safety and
security, including:
An unstable or
unsafe
environment
Separation from a
parent
Serious illness
Intrusive medical
procedures
Sexual, physical,
or verbal abuse
Domestic violence
Neglect
Bullying
Symptoms of emotional and
psychological trauma
Following a traumatic event, or repeated
trauma, people react in different ways,
experiencing a wide range of physical and
emotional reactions. There is no “right” or
“wrong” way to think, feel, or respond to
trauma, so don’t judge your own reactions
or those of other people. Your responses are
NORMAL reactions to ABNORMAL events.
Emotional and psychological symptoms of
trauma:
Shock, denial, or
disbelief
Anger,
irritability, mood
swings
Guilt, shame,
self-blame
Feeling sad or
hopeless
Confusion,
difficulty
concentrating
Anxiety and fear
Withdrawing
from others
Feeling
disconnected or
numb
Physical symptoms of trauma:
Insomnia or
nightmares
Being startled
easily
Racing heartbeat
Aches and pains
Fatigue
Difficulty
concentrating
Edginess and
agitation
Muscle tension
These symptoms and feelings typically last
from a few days to a few months, gradually
fading as you process the trauma. But even
when you’re feeling better, you may be
troubled from time to time by painful
memories or emotions—especially in
response to triggers such as an anniversary
of the event or an image, sound, or
situation that reminds you of the traumatic
experience.
Grieving is normal following trauma
Whether or not a traumatic event
involves death, survivors must cope
with the loss, at least temporarily, of
their sense of safety and security. The
natural reaction to this loss is grief.
Like people who have lost a loved one,
trauma survivors go through a
grieving process . This process, while
inherently painful, is easier if you
turn to others for support, take care of
yourself, and talk about how you feel.
When to seek professional help for
emotional or psychological trauma
Recovering from a traumatic event takes
time, and everyone heals at his or her own
pace. But if months have passed and your
symptoms aren’t letting up, you may need
professional help from a trauma expert.
Seek help for emotional or psychological
trauma if you’re:
Having trouble functioning at home or
work
Suffering from severe fear, anxiety, or
depression
Unable to form close, satisfying
relationships
Experiencing terrifying memories,
nightmares, or flashbacks
Avoiding more and more things that
remind you of the trauma
Emotionally numb and disconnected
from others
Using alcohol or drugs to feel better
Finding a trauma specialist
Working through trauma can be scary,
painful, and potentially retraumatizing.
Because of the risk of retraumatization, this
healing work is best done with the help of
an experienced trauma specialist.
Finding the right therapist may take some
time. It’s very important that the therapist
you choose has experience treating trauma.
But the quality of the relationship with
your therapist is equally important. Choose
a trauma specialist you feel comfortable
with. Trust your instincts. If you don’t feel
safe, respected, or understood, find another
therapist. There should be a sense of trust
and warmth between you and your trauma
therapist.
from :physiological world

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