What Is Trauma?
Trauma is something shocking and painful that has happened to us such as: losing someone close in an accident, being made redundant with little or no warning or a medical procedure with unexpected complications. It has physical and psychological affects on us and can happen after one event or several.
Common Causes Of Post Traumatic Stress
So How Will It Affect Me?
All trauma will throw us off balance for a while: disbelief and numbness is common immediately after the event, then perhaps anger, sadness and eventually acceptance.
We may change our behaviours after a traumatic event to protect ourselves from the pain of further trauma. While these behaviours are useful coping strategies over time they can have a negative impact. For example, a woman who’s been attacked on her journey home may decide never to go out again after dark. We may become trapped and limit our lives considerably.
Symptoms Of Post Traumatic Stress
- panic attacks
- withdrawal and isolation
- excessive worry
Post Traumatic Stress occurs when we are unable to process the traumatic experience that has happened or more than one trauma has occurred. The latest trauma may evoke previous traumas we have suffered eg the woman that has been attacked may also have been abused by her husband at an earlier time in her life. Each trauma may re-activate more difficult feelings and behaviours.
Ways To Alleviate the Affects of Trauma
- Ask others for help. Don’t avoid social contact and suffer alone, even if this feels very difficult. Find a self-help group to join.
- Practice mindfulness meditation and relaxation techniques.
- Exercise, preferably outdoors.
- Learn about post traumatic stress. Babette Rothschild is an expert on trauma recovery and has written several excellent books. Her video introduces her self help programme for survivors of trauma.
Trauma may affect people differently depending on their genetic make up and upbringing. I will talk more about this in my next blog on Neuroscience and Trauma in Childhood.