Posted in: Mental Health
Learning to Accept Trauma
June 25, 2015
A person can experience trauma as the result of many different situations. Trauma can cause an individual to feel overwhelmed by many frightening thoughts and emotions. While a traumatic experience might only last a short time, the person can feel its effects for years to come. If this trauma is left unaddressed, the person may suffer even more. It’s therefore necessary for anyone who has experienced trauma to not only address the traumatic experience, but also to learn how to accept it.
PTSD and Its Causes
Experiencing trauma can cause a person to react in any number of ways. One common result of going through a traumatic event is developing Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) explains that PTSD can develop when a person experiences any of the following:
- Feeling extreme fear, horror or helplessness
- Finding no social support after a traumatic event
- Getting hurt
- Having a history of mental illness
- Seeing people get hurt or killed
- Struggling with additional stress after a traumatic event
- Surviving a dangerous or traumatizing event
When a person has PTSD, she will exhibit several specific symptoms. The Mayo Clinic categorizes these symptoms into four groups:
- Arousal: the person may become irritable, angry or aggressive; she may be on guard and find herself easily frightened and startled; or she may have trouble sleeping or concentrating on day-to-day tasks.
- Avoidance: this can occur when the person tries not to talk or think about the event, or when she avoids activities, people or places that remind her of the trauma.
- Intrusive memories: the person might relive the trauma in flashbacks, have unsettling dreams about it or experience serious emotional distress whenever she experiences something that reminds her of the event.
- Negative changes in mood and thoughts: feelings of numbness or hopelessness are often a significant part of PTSD; the person may also feel badly about herself or other people, be unable to feel positive emotions or lose interest in things that she used to enjoy.
PTSD can seriously impact all aspects of an individual’s life, but with the right treatment, recovery is possible.
Managing and Recovering from PTSD
While some people who experience trauma develop PTSD, not all do. The NIMH lists the following ways that a person can reduce her risk of developing PTSD after a traumatic event:
- Accepting and finding comfort in her own actions in the midst of crisis
- Creating a coping strategy to get through the event and its after-effects
- Finding social support from friends, family or a support group
- Realizing that she acted in a crisis situation despite being afraid
A person who has experienced a traumatic event should try to find solace in the ways listed above. If she is having a difficult time moving past the trauma and thinks she may be struggling with PTSD, she should seek out professional help. Her healthcare professional may suggest that she engage in psychotherapy sessions, a common way for people with PTSD to learn how to come to terms with their trauma. As Lynn Margolies explains, psychotherapy can help the person process and move through the trauma so that it remains in the background instead of in the forefront of all of her thoughts. Once the person addresses the traumatic event and its consequences, she can begin to live in the present again instead of focusing on a terrifying event in the past.
Learn More About How to Accept Trauma
Life after trauma can be extremely challenging and scary. It’s important for anyone struggling with PTSD or similar after-effects of trauma to know that it is completely possible to confront, accept and move on from traumatic events. If you’d like to speak with someone about getting some professional help for substance use and mental health issues give us a call at 615-490-9376.