Psychological Trauma

Causes, Symptoms and Copingwith Trauma

Psychological Trauma
When one goes through psychological trauma, there are persistent and struggling feelings, upsetting emotions, frightening memories and a constant sense of fear. One may feel numb or disconnected and this may also make the person feel unable to trust others. But what is psychological trauma? It is the result of certain stressful events which are extraordinary and thus which causes the person to feel a loss of his/her sense of security and make him/her feel shattered, helpless and vulnerable. A traumatic event is an experience or an event that overwhelms the person and destructs the person’s ability to cope and survive efficiently. It involves a threat to life and safety not in terms of physical harm but a feeling of trauma.

So what causes psychological trauma? Any event that happens unexpectedly and the person is unprepared for it which thus causes heightened trauma. The person feels powerless and is unable to prevent it. Sometimes the event occurs repeatedly and the person may have been subjected to intentional cruelty. A horrible incident, a natural disaster, a violent attack – trauma can occur from any ongoing stress such as a crime ridden neighborhood or maybe due to a terminal illness.

The sudden death of a loved one has been seen as the most common cause of trauma. Among sportspersons, a fall or an injury may cause severe trauma if the person is unable to continue. Detachment from a significant relationship, an extremely humiliating experience, an accident, a surgery or the discovery of a fatal illness, military combat, terrorist attacks, being taken hostage, being a prisoner of war or a personal violent assault may be the other common causes of trauma.

What are the symptoms of emotional and psychological trauma? People react in different ways to different situations and thus there is no right or wrong way to feel or react to situations. Sometimes, most people feel shock and denial or disbelief when faced by traumatic situations. Irritable mood and angry behavior may follow. They may also feel sad and hopeless and have a persistent sense of confusion. It becomes difficult for them to concentrate while feeling anxious or scared and feel disconnected from others around them. Physically them may be startled easily, have a racing heartbeat, experience fatigue and insomnia and feel muscle tension and agitation. These symptoms last usually from a few days to a few months when the traumatic experience occurs and fades as the trauma is processed. Yet, no matter how much time passes, sometimes these memories are triggered, such as a similar event happening elsewhere or a situation reminding the person of the trauma.

How to cope with trauma? First of all, focus on what’s important. When dealing with the aftermath of a crisis, focus on the resources that you have. Emphasize on the tasks that need to be done and put off others for later to conserve your emotional and physical energy. Second, find the support that you need. Let your loved ones help and guide you as it will help you feel better. When someone experiences a crisis, the person may stay in a state of constant stress as it is difficult to stay relaxed. It’s thus important to practice stress relief techniques such as deep circular breathing and meditation to reduce the intensity of stress. Processing one’s feelings is very important and so is talking to a friend or writing in a diary. This helps the person to put into words the experiences to better integrate it. In the process, talking about negative feelings help as it helps the person get it out and move through it and then let go. The person should take care of himself physically through nutrition and sleep and motivate oneself to read a book or see a movie and help oneself enjoy life and relieve stress. Being patient with oneself is another important task as the person may feel disheartened due to the persisting negative feelings.

As trauma is a big deal for the person going through it, others should not look at the person and pass on saying the person is overreacting or seeking attention. It is important to understand that these feelings are real and the person needs to be supported. If the experienced thoughts and feelings are too intrusive and the nightmares are recurrent and if the person is unable to move ahead because of his reaction, then professional help should be sought. It’s a smart and responsible way to take care of oneself through this time of pain and suffering.

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