The emotional problems experienced from traumatic events are also immensely harmful to physical health.
It’s almost impossible these days to read a newspaper or tune into a news broadcast without hearing about someone who has experienced some sort of emotional trauma. Often referred to as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the news item will relate how the person may have been accosted on the street or threatened in their homes.
They may have met with and survived any kind of violence, physical or emotional abuse. Or they might have witnessed a tragic accident or incident, any of which has left them emotionally traumatized
What you don’t hear much about is what happens to those individuals later. You also don’t hear about the hundreds of people whose emotional traumas don’t make headlines. Those who lived through a natural disaster, experienced a hazardous accident, serious financial difficulties, or are living in situations where ongoing threats to their well-being and survival are present.
Recent research has revealed that emotional trauma can result from such common occurrences as an;
- auto accident
- the breakup of a significant relationship
- a humiliating or deeply disappointing experience
- the discovery of a life-threatening illness or disabling condition
- or other similar situations.
Traumatizing events can take a serious emotional and physical toll on those involved, even if the event did not cause physical damage.
If left un-treated, a traumatic experience can overwhelm one’s capacity to cope with what would be a “normal” situation, causing their nervous system to be thrown off balance. If this trauma-induced imbalance is not resolved, it lingers. This is what accounts for the ongoing emotional after-effects of trauma, such as anxiety and depression, panic attacks and fearfulness, sleep disturbances and relationship problems. Some individuals experience a sense of despair and hopelessness, guilt feelings, grief reactions and avoidance of situations that resemble the initial event. Their sense of security is shattered and they feel helpless and vulnerable in a dangerous world.
The emotional problems experienced from traumatic events are also immensely harmful to physical health. Common symptoms include a racing heart, headaches, chronic unexplained pain, hyper-vigilance, exaggerated startle response, sleep difficulties, increased stress, eating disturbances, low energy and sexual dysfunction.
It is not the event that determines whether something is traumatic to someone, but the individual’s experience of the event. And it is not predictable how a given person will react to a particular event. For someone who is used to being in control of emotions and the environment around them, it may be surprising – even embarrassing – to discover that something like an accident or job loss can be so debilitating.
It can be very difficult to cope with emotional trauma and its resulting symptoms on your own. Sometimes the emotional and physical responses are delayed for months or even years after the event. Often people do not even initially associate their symptoms with the precipitating trauma. People can be tempted to begin self-medicating with alcohol, illicit or unprescribed drugs. They may gradually increase the variety and frequency of prescribed medication to try to cope with the stress or anxiety an event has caused.
Healthy Ways to Get Back On Track
- connect with others regularly and avoid isolation.
- Reach out for support from loved ones or caring community members
- Seek out professional opinions and assistance of someone trained in the field
- Seek out treatment that focuses on; education, stress management, releasing body memories and working through emotions.
It is important to note that your willingness and desire to feel better can be your most powerful ally on the road to recovery.
Experiencing a psychological trauma clearly has major problems, but the process of healing that trauma can open you up to deep transformation and personal growth.
As your trauma heals, it’s not uncommon to experience
- a deeper sense of compassion
- empathy and intimacy in your relationships
- a greater sense of wisdom, acceptance, and appreciation for life
- transformation in the following areas; physical, emotional, cognitive, behavioral, relationships, and spirituality