The American Psychological Association defines trauma as the psychological and emotional reactions to traumatic situations. Those situations that are believed to be risks to one's safety or stability and cause physical, mental, or psychological stress or harm are referred to as traumatic occurrences. In other words, these are occurrences that occur outside of the regular range of human experience and to which individual reactions differ.
Psychological trauma is caused and triggered by a very stressful experience that reduces or eliminates a person’s sense of security and entails a threat to their emotional wellbeing and safety. A person’s capability to cope as well as assimilate intimate emotions is rigorously tested during traumatic events. This can induce and put someone in a situation where dealing with stressful conditions, uncomfortable emotions and memories can make them feel helpless and numb. Lack of ability to trust and connect people is another commonly seen consequence. Many people believe firmly that it takes a really long time to completely heal from trauma and the process of recovery to establish a sense of security is no doubt an exhausting one.
While it's not something that necessarily needs to be compared since the trauma is different and subjective to every person; people can make therapeutic changes and proceed forward in their lives to fulfill their dreams and wishes like any other person.
Even if there is no presence of any physical harm, a challenging incident may leave someone with overwhelming and fearful emotions, often ending up in trauma. The most important thing to be noticed is that it is the subjective emotional experience that is responsible for determining whether an incident is traumatic or not; instead of the factual facts. One person may find a scenario to be highly traumatic while another finds it to be merely moderately unsettling. The more fearful and powerless you feel, the more likely you are to become traumatized.
Trauma recovery is a unique process that takes different forms for different people. Many things influence a person’s ability to recover from trauma, including our beliefs and views, level of coping and resiliency, social connections, and even psychological functioning before the experience.
Stages of recovery
Stage One: Safety, Stabilization, and Dysregulation Overcome
Reestablishing feelings of safety and stability is the first stage in healing from trauma. Individuals who have been traumatized frequently do not feel comfortable in their bodies or their relationships. Regaining a sense of safety entails creating a safe and predictable environment in which people are free of physical and mental harm and have achieved some emotional stability. This includes the ability to relax their body and mind and the ability to cope with post-traumatic symptoms like flashbacks and nightmares that might be triggered by everyday occurrences.
Stage Two: Remembrance, Mourning, and Accepting Traumatic Memories-
This stage entails conquering the dread of traumatic memories so that they can be integrated into our sense of self. This stage should be tackled with the help of a psychologist or other health care expert who can guide them through the recovery process. Therapies like Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) are used at this period of healing.
During this stage, one paces oneself to prevent becoming mired in avoidance or overwhelmed by flashbacks, avoidance concerns, or painful memories. Although there may be a rush to get rid of the trauma and recuperate quickly, it is frequently wiser to take it slowly. The fastest path to success is to take a slow and steady approach that does not “injure” or overwhelm you.
At this point, the goal is to come to terms with the traumatic experience. This stage also includes the critical duty of analyzing and mourning the losses related to the trauma and finding a safe place to grieve and express your feelings. During this time, it's very crucial to stay connected to people.
Stage Three: Reconnection and Integration-
a person develops a new sense of self and a new future in this stage, which includes reframing themselves in terms of meaningful relationships. Trauma is no longer a driving factor in their life at this point.
Although the trauma becomes a part of their life story, it is no longer the main story that defines you. You start to feel more confident and embrace reality.
It's vital to remember that there's no right or wrong method to heal during these three stages. You're having a natural reaction to an unusual incident in the first three stages. Every person will go through these stages at their rate and in their way, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to feeling or healing. The more you embrace your sentiments during these stages, the easier it will be to go forward.
Stage Four- Posttraumatic Growth
After completing the first three stages, the goal is to move on to the stage of posttraumatic growth (PTG). Posttraumatic growth refers to the period after a traumatic or difficult experience has altered you, sometimes dramatically.
When someone experiences beneficial psychological changes as a result of trauma or hardship, they attain posttraumatic growth, which allows them to function at a greater level than they may have otherwise. Despite the psychological agony they have experienced, the majority of people at this stage report that their trauma histories have shaped who they are now.
Posttraumatic growth is a transformation in thinking about how a person relates to the world, rather than a return to life as it was before the experience. Many people at this stage become advocates for those in need or voices for those who have been abused or traumatized. Some people use their personal experiences to help others through the healing process.
Stage Five- Recovery-
It is possible to fully recover from the effects of trauma and live a meaningful and rewarding life by advancing through these stages. Recovery does not imply a complete absence of thoughts or feelings related to the traumatic event; rather, it comprises the ability to put the event into context and rise above it such that it no longer affects your emotions or your life. Recovery from trauma is both a testament to the human spirit's tenacity and the essential to live a life worth living.
The type and severity of the traumatic event, the amount of available support for the person following the incident, other stressors currently being experienced in the person's life, the presence of certain personality traits, natural levels of resilience, and whether the person has had any previous traumatic experiences all influence how a person reacts to trauma.
A wide range of mental, emotional, physical, and behavioral responses are common. These reactions are common, and they usually go away as part of the body's natural healing and recovery process.
While a psychologist or a therapist is the most preferred ways for people to deal with trauma, during these times, it is necessary that people constantly indulge in self-care methods and do not restrict themselves from interacting with their circle of loved ones. Some common things that must be taken care of during stressful conditions are-
Taking Good Care of Yourself
It must be kept in mind that the body still has physical demands that you need to fulfill and provide it with. Medical attention and adequate prescription must be sought from professional experts trained to assist you in such processes. Giving your body enough food, sleep, plenty of water, and not forgetting to exercise are some important methods that would help your body in healing and nourishing.
Limit Your Exposure to the Situation
You could feel motivated to learn as much as possible about the traumatic event. The Internet and 24-hour news providers help with this. On the other side, constant exposure can make you feel anxious and overwhelmed. Reduce how much news you watch and listen to.
Keep in Touch
Family and friends are there to help you get through life's ups and downs. Get in touch with them. Spend time with people who are upbeat and encouraging. If you have loved ones who live far away, take the time to call them. Befriending your neighbors, joining a support group, or engaging in a religious or spiritual organization can all help you feel more connected. You are not obligated to go through the entire process.
Trauma survivors, their families, and their caregivers all want things to get better. Recovery may not necessarily entail complete freedom from a traumatic event's effects. Recovery is an individual experience that differs from one person to the next. The ability to live in the present without being dominated by memories and emotions from the past is defined as recovery.
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