Every human being goes through experiences in life that leave a mark. As joyful and happy moment shape us, similarly experiences related to trauma or traumatic events affect us, probably in a more powerful way. Trauma is a physical, emotional, and psychological response to a deeply disturbing, distressing, or disempowering situation from which person cannot escape or mobilise himself. Every person has a different response to a traumatic event. There are no objective criteria to evaluate which event will cause post traumatic symptoms.
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Sometimes the circumstances involving loss of control, betrayal, abuse of power, helplessness, pain, confusion, or loss may lead to trauma. The events need not only arise from war, natural disaster, or personal assault to affect a person profoundly or alter their experiences. It is very subjective, and is defined more by its response than by its trigger.
It takes around 4-6 weeks to move past the initial shock of the event. After those responses to the event may vary, some of the common responses include:
- Repeated memories of the event or flashbacks
- Intense fear that the traumatic event will recur.
- Avoiding places, objects or people that are reminders of the event
- Withdrawal and isolation from day-to-day activities.
- Loss of interest in enjoyable activities
- Mood changes
- Avoidance of reminders of the event.
- Sleep problems
People experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can feel anxious years after the traumatic event has occurred. When the symptoms last more than a month and affect person’s ability to function then the person maybe suffering from PTSD. Sometimes the symptoms of PTSD can escalate to panic attacks, depression, suicidal thoughts, substance abuse or feeling of being isolated and not being able to complete daily tasks.
The National Institute of Mental Health estimated lifetime prevalence of PTSD to be 6.8% States. The severity and rapid spread of Coronavirus has also had a significant effect on the psychological . A study was conducted in Singapore related the impact of COVID-19 on mental health of General Practitioner resulting in 8.9% meeting the criteria for diagnosis of PTSD (Lum A et al. BJGP Open 2021).
Research indicates that children are also equally vulnerable to trauma. They also experience heightened state of stress during a traumatic event, and this can effect a child long term emotional development, mental health, physical health and behaviour. Childhood trauma can result from anything that disrupts his sense of security and some of these indicators can be:
- Unstable or unsafe environment
- Separation from parent
- Domestic violence
- Sexual, physical, or verbal abuse
Counselling can provide a ground presence to the person experiencing trauma to explore their trauma by feeling safe, listened to, and held. A person can prevent going on a downward spiral through professional help.
Treatment for PTSD:
- Cognitive Behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT focuses on one’s thoughts, feelings and behaviours and encourages changes in these negative patterns (e.g., negative beliefs about yourself) that lead to PTSD symptoms.
- Exposure therapy. Exposure therapy guides you safely to confront both situations and thoughts that are related to the traumatic event. This helps to cope with them effectively and can be particularly helpful for flashbacks and nightmares.
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). EMDR combines exposure therapy with a range of eye movement exercises guided by the therapist that helps you process traumatic memories and change how you react to them.
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This article uses material from WebMD and other useful references for trauma, PTSD or grief related issues. The article is for use of reference and information only, for specific diagnoses and treatment, please reach out to our licensed and/or certified professionals.