Whether as a child or during adulthood, traumatic events in our lives can make the present and future seem distant, hopeless, frightening, and more. These events sometimes define who we are for the rest of our lives, or at least change the way we perceive ourselves and the world. Understanding the effects of trauma can help us feel more at ease with knowing how we are feeling, and could give us the potential to help someone else by knowing what they are going through.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network explains that when a child goes through a traumatic event, their body may experience rapid breathing or heart pounding, chronic physical complaints such as stomach aches or headaches, sensitivity to light, touch or sound, and more. Traumatic events or extreme stress can even cause a child’s body to shut down when presented with stressful situations. Emotionally, a child may have difficulty identifying, expressing, or understanding emotions, and may experience significant anger, depression, or anxiety. Dissociation is another response safety mechanism, in which the child may mentally separate themselves from a stressful situation.
Adults can experience damaging effects of trauma as well – the American Psychological Association notes that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm was threatened. Physical assaults, natural or human-caused disasters such as terrorist attacks, motor vehicle accidents, rape, physical and sexual abuse, military combat and more are all cases that may induce PTSD. Dr. Lynn Margolies, psychologist and former Harvard Medical School fellow, describes for Psych Central that hyperarousal, intrusive memories or flashbacks, feeling numb or detached and being easily startled are just a few symptoms of PTSD.
Help Guide provides several ways to help overcome the effects of trauma:
- Get moving. Exercise can help with hyperarousal and can help ground you.
- Don’t isolate yourself. Join a support group, participate in social activities, volunteer, make new friends – all of this will help you to connect with others and heal.
- Self-regulate. Practice mindfulness and allow yourself to feel your emotions when they arise.
- Take care of your health. Get plenty of sleep, avoid alcohol and drugs, eat a healthy diet, and reduce your stress levels.
- Seek help if you are having trouble functioning at school, work, and home; suffering from severe depression or anxiety; unable to form close relationships; avoiding activities; feeling numb, and more.
Recovery from trauma is possible. If a traumatic experience is causing you extreme difficulty in enjoying life, speak with someone today to begin developing tools towards recovery. If you are having suicidal thoughts, call 1-800-273-8255 immediately. Your life is important. If you are thinking of going to a treatment center to meet with a licensed therapist, call Avalon Malibu today at 855-895-7144. You deserve to be happy and fulfilled.