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Many people live a traumatic experience but escape relatively unscathed over time. However, others develop mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result.
You can connect PTSD with soldiers returning from war. And that may be the case. But some people develop the condition of being the victim of a violent crime, witnessing an accident, or even the loss of a loved one. We will delve into several of the reasons why people develop PTSD.
WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY ABOUT DEALING WITH A TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE
"There are real neurobiological consequences of trauma that are associated with PTSD," said Dr. Farris Tuma, who directs the traumatic stress research program, according to the National Institutes of Health.
When you are in danger, your body responds in a fight or flight mode that can help you get out of dangerous situations. However, if you were exposed to a stressful or dangerous situation for a long time, you may have chronic problems. These include trouble sleeping, flashbacks, and anxiety.
If your symptoms last for more than a month, your doctor might diagnose you with post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.
THE DEFINITION OF A TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE
What is a traumatic event? A traumatic experience or development is an alarming and distressing moment in life that produces a strong emotional response. At first, a shock occurs, but future problems can be severe memories and emotions, or even headaches.
While many may associate PTSD with soldiers and veterans, trauma and its related symptoms can occur among many different people throughout their lives.
Anyone who has suffered physical or sexual abuse is likely to suffer symptoms associated with trauma. Many people can have PTSD who have been through a natural disaster such as an earthquake or hurricane. Additionally, post-traumatic stress disorder is prevalent among those who have been in serious car accidents or other accidents.
“Most people associate PTSD symptoms with veterans and combat situations,” explained Dr. Amit Etkin, an NIH-funded mental health expert at Stanford University. "However, all kinds of trauma occur during life that can lead to PTSD as a symptom."
THE AURORA STUDY: THE BIOLOGY BEHIND A TRAUMATIC EVENT
Scientists think it would be helpful to find out what puts people at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder. Dr. Samuel McLean, a trauma expert at the University of North Carolina, and his team have been trying to figure out how the brain reacts to stress and trauma.
The AURORA study looked at depression, physical pain, post-traumatic stress, and post-concussion syndrome among those who faced a traumatic experience. These researchers followed 5,000 trauma survivors for a year to better understand their mental and physical problems.
"We are enrolling people who visit trauma centers immediately after trauma because the evidence suggests that many of the important biological changes that lead to persistent symptoms occur in the early aftermath of trauma," McLean said.
The researchers are:
-looking at the life story before the trauma
-collecting genetic and biological data
-performing brain scans to see any changes in the brain,
-Taking a record of post-traumatic symptoms.
Additionally, smart watches and mobile apps are being used to assess the bodily responses of trauma survivors. This data can help scientists better understand how people's moods, sleep patterns, and activities change due to trauma.
"Our goal is for there to be a time when trauma survivors come to receive care and receive screenings and interventions to prevent PTSD, in the same way that they will have X-ray exams to repair broken bones," he clarified. McLean.
The AURORA study followed large numbers of survivors and performed tests ranging from self-reports to digital phenotypes, neuroimaging, and genomic analysis. This trial started in the early stages after a traumatic experience and continued for a year.
5 WAYS TO RECOVER FROM A TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE
While scientists continue to uncover the biology behind trauma, there are some steps survivors can take to recover from a traumatic experience. Five ways to recover from trauma include:
-Talking with friends and family as a coping strategy;
-Attend a support group and / or speak with a mental health professional;
-Using self-help applications, books, or websites such as those created by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs;
-Consider non-invasive brain stimulation if it does not respond to treatment;
-Enter music therapy as a possible solution.
We take a closer look at each of these below.
1 - TALK TO LOVED ONES TO WORK THROUGH A TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE
You will find that you need a good coping strategy to overcome traumatic experiences. Many turn to negative ways of coping, such as drinking alcohol or even taking drugs. However, talking to your friends, family, and other important people can help you overcome some of the memories and emotions associated with your trauma.
You will want to seek support from your friends and family or those who have been through similar situations. Those who can relate and be by your side will help you feel less alone. Asking your family for support is vital. While your loved ones may not know what to say, it may be liberating to talk about what happened.
You will also need time to recover. Understand that it can take weeks or months to get over your trauma or tragedy. Talking about it with others or spending time with those close to you can help you heal. Take it easy and allow yourself to feel those emotions, even if you cry.
2 - ATTEND A SUPPORT GROUP OR TALK TO A MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL
Generally speaking with family and friends can help you overcome trauma. However, if it continues, you should seek a mental health professional. When should you seek professional advice? Seek therapy when:
-You feel overwhelmed by sadness and anxiety.
-You can't sleep and have nightmares.
-Your life does not return to normal after six weeks.
-Abstain from spending time with others.
-Your work makes you suffer.
-You are using alcohol or drugs to deal with your feelings.
When you learn to cope better and recover from your traumatic experiences, you will benefit from speaking with a mental health professional. Talking to other people in a support group can also help. You will need to make an appointment with a therapist trained in trauma-focused therapy when you experience symptoms of PTSD.
"For those who start therapy and go through it, a large percentage will improve and get some relief," explained NIH's Dr. Farris Tuma.
Post-traumatic stress disorder can have a variety of different symptoms between people, so some treatments may not work for you, while others may do the trick. It is essential to try various therapies to see which type of treatment works best for you.
3 - USE SELF-HELP APPLICATIONS, BOOKS OR WEBSITES
If you are a veteran or a soldier experiencing trauma, you will benefit from using the tools, mobile apps, and self-help website created by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs there are apps for mindfulness, and a call PTSD coach to give you more guidance.
There are countless self-help books to help survivors recover from their trauma. A book with many positive recommendations is calledHealing From Trauma: A Survivor's Guide To Understanding Your Symptoms And Regaining Your Life. It is written by Jasmin Lee Cori, and it seems to have helped many people.
With the help of self-help books and apps, you can get your life back on track, especially if you don't feel comfortable talking to a therapist. You will also want to get into a routine. Do not forget to eat and have healthy and balanced meals. You can even start participating in some simple and gentle exercises.
Your routine should involve spending time with others doing things in addition to focusing on your trauma. For example, go out to dinner with friends or watch a movie with your partner.
4 - NON-INVASIVE BRAIN STIMULATION FOR THOSE WHO DO NOT RESPOND TO TREATMENT
Non-invasive brain stimulation has been used by medical professionals to help veterans and others with post-traumatic stress disorder. This process is only used when patients do not respond to any other treatment.
In 2014, researchers in Los Angeles, California, used deep brain stimulation to help veterans overcome their post-traumatic stress symptoms. The clinical trial found a 30 percent reduction in the total Physician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) score after undergoing deep brain stimulation.
The research uncovered in the pilot test may help other scientists create studies that can better determine the benefits of deep brain stimulation for soldiers, veterans, and others facing treatment-resistant PTSD.
5 - MUSIC THERAPY CAN BE YOUR SOLUTION
Many people also benefit from music therapy. You will discover that music therapy is currently being used to help people of various backgrounds. This includes those who suffer from depression and also those on the autism spectrum.
Music therapy can include making music, moving to a song, singing, or listening to music. This can help with physical rehabilitation, teach coping methods for stress, motivate people, and decrease pain.
FINAL REFLECTIONS ON OVERCOMING A TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE
If you have been through a traumatic experience, you can try speaking with a therapist or support group. Or you may benefit from trying music therapy and a self-help book.
Whichever of these five strategies you choose, there are clearly proven ways to help trauma survivors overcome, recover, and heal from their tragedy.