By its very unexpected and uncontrolled nature, traumatic events cannot be avoided. Domestic violence, rape, car accidents, tornadoes, violent crime, terrorism, hurricanes, victims of war or military combat and a range of others. Communities very publicly and individuals completely alone around the globe are dealing with the potentially massive effects of trauma.
Trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event and the impact can be too overwhelming to deal with right away. So the mind and body
, with the wisdom of Nature, put into motion the shock response, or a “fight or flight” reaction, as a survival mechanism, to block the full impact of the traumatic event. That shocking or scary event triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it. It is a typical reaction meant to protect a person from harm.
Long-term reactions to trauma can include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, nightmares, strained relationships and even physical symptoms like headaches. While these feelings are normal, and most people get over them naturally, some individuals have difficulty moving on with their lives.
Those who experience continued denial, the pushing away of the trauma, will suffer because denial doesn’t erase it. The trauma lingers, stored in our brain and body, like a powder keg ready to explode when a psychological trigger, or even a physical trigger like a scent, can set it off. Those who continue to experience problems resulting from a traumatic event may be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they are not in danger.
A person suffering the after-effects of a traumatic event or dealing with PTSD requires compassion from family and friends, and guidance from a trusted mental health professional. Knowledge, understanding and proper treatment are critical elements in reducing the impact and intensity of the disruptive nature of trauma
, which can cause fear, isolation and difficulty carrying on with the basic activities of daily life. Psychotherapists can help people suffering from trauma find constructive ways to manage their emotions.
The most common form of behavior therapy is exposure, where a person gradually faces a fear. In this way, the memories of a traumatic event can be brought to light gently without the consequences of the original trauma. *Relaxation training: Learning relaxation techniques can help a person decrease the intensity of the trauma by managing stress and anxiety. *Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
This therapy helps a person learn skills to replace negative, incorrect or irrational thoughts with more accurate, positive and healthy thoughts.Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
The person focuses on the traumatic experience while tracking a moving light or the therapist’s moving finger. It has been shown to be effective for decreasing the symptoms of trauma.Mindfulness
Mindfulness is paying attention
to the moment, accepting thoughts and emotions, and allowing them to exist without judgement. It is gaining increasing support among mental health professionals as a treatment, or part of a treatment plan, for trauma and PTSD. Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy has been found to be helpful for people dealing with PTSD and depression.Medication
The right medication can help make the symptoms or trauma or PTSD less intense and more manageable. Medication can help lessen symptoms such as irritability or depression.
When collaborating with a mental health professional, the goal of trauma-focused therapy is to integrate the traumatic event into your life, so the effects of trauma are manageable and eventually minimized. That allows for continued healing on the path to a healthier and more peaceful life.