The Truth You Are Not Told About Trauma

By Janet Adeyemo

It is  no new thing that we all have gone through one distressing event or the other. But the ability to come out of it is what differs. These events don’t have power over us but they often leave scars on us. The pain of going through these events or having scars causes some people to have a long-lasting emotional response and dwell there even subconsciously.  Now, this is Trauma.

Trauma is the lasting emotional response that often results from living through a distressing event. Experiencing a traumatic event can harm a person’s sense of safety, sense of self, and ability to regulate emotions and navigate relationships. Long after the traumatic event occurs, people with trauma can often feel shame, helplessness, powerlessness, and intense fear.

Trauma can lead to a variety of psychological and emotional responses. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is one well-known consequence, characterized by symptoms such as intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, nightmares, and hyperarousal. Additionally, trauma can lead to anxiety, depression, dissociation, and a range of physical symptoms. The impact of trauma is highly individual, and people may respond differently based on their personal history, resilience, and support systems.

Trauma experience cuts across:

  • Natural Disasters: Surviving earthquakes, hurricanes, or wildfires can be traumatic due to the suddenness and intensity of the events.
  • Accidents: Car crashes, plane accidents, or other serious accidents can lead to physical and emotional trauma.
  • Violent Crimes: Being a victim of assault, robbery, or kidnapping can cause severe psychological distress.
  • War and Conflict: Soldiers or civilians exposed to war zones can experience trauma due to the violence, loss, and constant danger.
  • Abuse: Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse can result in long-lasting traumatic effects.
  • Medical Trauma: Severe medical procedures, surgeries, or life-threatening illnesses can be traumatic.
  • Loss of a Loved One: The sudden or unexpected death of a family member or close friend can be emotionally traumatic.
  • Terrorist Attacks: Witnessing or being affected by acts of terrorism can lead to lasting trauma.
  • Childhood Trauma: Neglect, abandonment, or exposure to violence during childhood can have long-term effects.
  • Sexual Assault: Surviving sexual assault can lead to profound emotional trauma. And a lot more.
  • Recovery from trauma is a complex process that varies for each individual. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, there are several strategies that can help people cope with and heal from traumatic experiences:
  • Seek Professional Help: A mental health professional, such as a therapist or counselor, can provide the necessary support and guidance to process and manage traumatic memories. Various therapeutic techniques, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and exposure therapy, can be effective in treating trauma-related symptoms.
  • Build a Support System: Connecting with friends, family, or support groups can provide a sense of belonging and understanding. Sharing experiences and emotions with others who have gone through similar situations can foster a sense of validation and reduce feelings of isolation.
  • Practice Self-Care: Engaging in self-care activities, such as exercise, mindfulness, meditation, and relaxation techniques, can help manage stress and anxiety. Focusing on one’s physical health and well-being can have positive effects on mental health as well.
  • Express Emotions: Finding healthy ways to express emotions can be cathartic. This could include journaling, art, music, or other creative outlets that allow for the release of intense feelings.
  • Gradual Exposure: Gradually facing the triggers associated with the trauma, in a controlled and safe environment, can help desensitize the emotional response over time.
  • Create a Routine: Establishing a daily routine can provide a sense of stability and predictability, which can be comforting in the aftermath of a traumatic event.
  • Practice Patience: Healing from trauma takes time. It’s important to be patient with oneself and not expect instant results. Progress may be slow, but consistent effort and support can lead to positive changes.
  • Avoid Self-Medicating: Turning to substances like alcohol or drugs to cope with trauma can lead to further complications. It’s crucial to seek healthier ways of managing emotions.
  • Professional Interventions: In some cases, medication may be prescribed to manage symptoms such as anxiety and depression. Consultation with a psychiatrist can determine whether this is an appropriate option.
  • Acceptance and Forgiveness: Accepting what has happened and finding a way to forgive oneself or others involved can be a critical step in the healing process.

Remember that recovery is a unique journey for everyone. What works for one person may not work for another. It’s essential to tailor coping strategies to individual needs and seek help when necessary. If you or someone you know is struggling with trauma, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional for support.

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