If you’ve experienced an extremely stressful or disturbing event that’s left you feeling helpless and emotionally out of control, you may have been traumatised. Psychological trauma can leave you struggling with upsetting emotions, memories, and anxiety that won’t go away. It can also leave you feeling numb, disconnected, and unable to trust other people. Sometimes when bad things happen, it can take a while to get over the pain and feel safe again. But with these self-help strategies and support, you can speed up your recovery. Whether the trauma happened years ago or yesterday, you can make healing changes and move on with your life.
So what do we mean by emotional and psychological trauma?
Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of an individual or an accumulation of extraordinary stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless and in a dangerous world. Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety, but any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and isolated can be traumatic, even if it doesn’t involve physical harm. It’s not the objective facts that determine whether an event is traumatic, but your subjective emotional experience of the event. The more frightened and helpless you feel, the more likely you are to be traumatised.
One-time events – such as an accident, injury, natural disaster, or violent attack
Ongoing or relentless stress – such as your job – fire-officer or Police putting themselves in harm’s way every day or perhaps battling a life-threatening illness
Commonly overlooked causes maybe; surgery, the sudden death of someone close, the breakup of a significant relationship, or a humiliating or deeply disappointing experience
Some of the Psychological and Physical Symptoms maybe:
- Shock, denial, or disbelief
- Confusion, difficulty concentrating
- Anger, irritability, mood swings
- Anxiety and fear
- Guilt, shame, self-blame
- Withdrawing from others
- Feeling sad or hopeless
- Feeling disconnected or numb
- Insomnia or nightmares
- Being startled easily
- Difficulty concentrating
- Racing heartbeat
- Edginess and agitation
- Aches and pains
- Muscle tension
Generally Post Traumatic Symptoms (PTS) last from a few days to a few weeks, gradually fading as you process the unsettling event. But even when you’re feeling better, you may be troubled from time to time by painful memories or emotions—especially in response to triggers such as an anniversary of the event or something that reminds you of the trauma.
Grief or Loss is normal following trauma
Whether or not a traumatic event involves death, survivors must cope with the loss, at least temporarily, of their sense of safety. The natural reaction to this loss is grief. People who have lost a loved one or trauma survivors will go through a process of grieving. You’ll find coping easier during this period, if you turn to others for support and take care of yourself
Things to do to aid recovery…
Trauma disrupts your body’s natural equilibrium, freezing you in a state of hyperarousal and fear. In essence, your nervous system gets “stuck.” As well as burning off adrenaline and releasing endorphins, exercise and movement can actually help your nervous system become “unstuck.”
Try to exercise for 30 minutes or more on most days. Exercise that is rhythmic and engages both your arms and legs—such as walking, running, swimming, basketball, or even dancing—works best. Or why not try some mindfulness to calm the body and mind.
- Family and friends support
Following a trauma, you may want to withdraw from others, but isolation only makes things worse. Connecting to others face to face will help you heal, so make an effort to maintain your relationships and avoid spending too much time alone.
Ask for support from either family, friends or a Counsellor.
Participate in social activities – even if you don’t feel like it. Do “normal” things with other people, things that have nothing to do with the traumatic experience.
Join a support group for trauma survivors. Being with others who are facing the same problems can help reduce your sense of isolation and hearing how others cope can help inspire you in your own recovery.
- Look after your Health
It’s a fact: having a healthy body can increase your ability to cope with the stress of trauma. Get plenty of sleep – after a traumatic experience, worry or fear may disturb your sleep patterns. But a lack of good quality sleep can exacerbate your trauma symptoms and make it harder to maintain your emotional balance. Go to sleep and get up at the same time each day and aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
Avoid alcohol and drugs – their use can worsen your trauma symptoms and increase feelings of depression, anxiety, and isolation.
Eat a well-balanced diet – eating small, nutritious meals throughout the day will help you keep your energy up and minimize mood swings. Avoid sugary and fried foods. Ensure you stay well hydrated and drink plenty of water.
When is it time to seek help?
If you are…
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Experiencing terrifying memories, nightmares, or flashbacks
- Emotionally numb and disconnected from others
- Struggling to function at home or work on a day to day basis
- Suffering from severe fear, anxiety, or depression
- Unable to form close, satisfying relationships
- Avoiding more and more things that remind you of the trauma e.g driving a different route
- Using alcohol or drugs to feel better
One of the well-recognised (NICE) and relatively recent treatments for Trauma, is EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) incorporates elements of cognitive-behavioural therapy with eye movements or other forms of rhythmic, Bi lateral stimulation that can unblock, distressing and traumatic events, reprocess them and store them as memories in your Hippocampus.
How to help someone deal with trauma –
When someone has suffered trauma, your support can be a crucial factor in their recovery.
Be patient and understanding. Healing from trauma takes time. Be patient with the pace of recovery and remember that everyone’s response to trauma is different.
Offer practical support help them get back into a normal routine. That may mean help with collecting groceries or housework, for example, or simply being available to talk or listen.
Don’t pressure them into talking about the trauma, but be available if they want to talk. Some trauma survivors find it difficult to talk about what happened. Don’t force them, but let them know you are there to listen if they want to talk, or happy just to keep them company.
Help them to socialize and relax. Encourage them to participate in physical exercise, seek out friends, and pursue hobbies and other activities that bring them pleasure. Take a fitness class together or set a regular lunch date with friends.
Don’t take the trauma symptoms personally. Your loved one may become angry, irritable, withdrawn, or emotionally distant. Remember that this is a result of the trauma and may not have anything to do with you or your relationship.
If you have some unresolved or historic trauma, or know someone who might benefit from some support following an-
- Death of a loved one
- Childhood trauma
- Significant illness
- Abuse mental or physical etc.
Why not get in touch and book a free 1/2 hour session to see how I might be able to help.
Please call Jules 07760/171127 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
This offer is available during the month of July – please quote “Trauma” when booking.