Psychological trauma is a kind of reaction to an event that adversely affected the psyche and surpassed the psychological capabilities of a person, that is, it turned out to be beyond his powers. In other words, the incident was not adequately perceived, fully understood and fully experienced and forgotten.
But why do some even easily experience strong shocks, while others can be unsettled by any experiences? The severity of psychological trauma is purely individual and depends on the following factors:
- Age. The younger a person is, the harder it is to endure psychological or emotional upheaval, because at a young age the psyche is not sufficiently formed and, as a rule, untenable.
- The degree of participation and involvement in the event. If the victim was directly involved in it, then going through it and forgetting it will be much more difficult than the situation that was observed from the outside.
- Features of the psyche. If it is weak, then, accordingly, will suffer more. If the psyche is stable, then the person will be able to survive and forget the shocks.
- The number and strength of traumatic events. The more of them and the more serious they are, the more difficult it is to adequately process them.
Possible causes of injury
The causes of psychological trauma can be very diverse, and sometimes the fact that one person does not seem so significant for another is a real shock. Possible causes include the death of a loved one, breaking up with a loved one or quarrel with a best friend, an experienced disaster, severe fear, betrayal, conflict, violence, leaving a permanent and favorite job, losing something important, serious illness or another event that can knock out and cause suffering.
The most common and serious are psychological traumas of childhood, since in childhood any events are experienced particularly acutely and severely, which is associated with an unstable and not fully formed psyche, as well as with the involvement of imagination and fantasy. That is, a child may inadequately perceive reality, misinterpret certain events or unconsciously change the reaction to them, reinforcing it with his conjectures, fantasies and children's fears.
How does it manifest itself?
Symptoms of psychological trauma can be varied, because they depend on the degree of shock and impact on the psyche, as well as on the nature of the character and ordinary behavior.
Possible manifestations of psychological trauma:
- Apathy, decreased activity and performance, weakness, fatigue.
- Increased nervous irritability, unreasonable anger, attacks of aggression, irritability.
- Guilt, insolvency or helplessness.
- Sadness, longing, depression, crying for no reason.
- The victim can become reserved and secretive, stop communicating even with close people.
- Rash acts.
- Thoughts of suicide.
- Discomfort, both emotional and psychological, and physical.
- The deterioration of concentration, confusion, memory problems.
- Deterioration of appetite, up to a complete refusal of food
- Sleep disturbances: insomnia, superficial sleep or, on the contrary, drowsiness, unwillingness to wake up.
- The change in heart rate, as a rule, rapid heartbeat.
- Often, psychological trauma leads to panic attacks, which manifest themselves in the form of unreasonable, intense and sudden fear, a sense of lack of air, confusion, and rapid heartbeat.
- But the characteristic and most basic symptom of psychological trauma triggered by a specific event is the memory of it. And they emerge in memory spontaneously, often with scraps. Such memories are blurred and cause fear or unpleasant emotions, and sometimes the victim seems that everything that happened did not happen to him.
How to deal with this problem?
How to survive a psychological trauma? It is necessary to be patient and ready to fail, especially if the psyche has suffered seriously. The best option is to seek professional help. An experienced psychiatrist or psychologist will find out the causes of the injury, help it to adequately perceive and eliminate the consequences. If there is no opportunity to contact a specialist, you can try to act independently, although outside help may still be required.
So, how to survive a psychological trauma?
- In no case do not lock yourself in, on the contrary, try to actively participate in public life and accept help from loved ones and friends, it can be useful.
- Try to find an interesting activity that will enthrall you and bring only pleasant emotions. Good mood and pleasure obtained during the lessons will help to restore the affected psyche and forget about the experienced events.
- Do not hold back emotions, they need a way out. So if you want to cry, scream and show anger, then do it. To throw out all the most negative, you can buy and beat a punching bag, sign up for a fight or in the gym.
- Experienced psychologists actively use the exercises, and in this case, the most effective is to reproduce in memory the events that provoked the injury. It would seem that, on the contrary, it can cause even more suffering, but in fact, sometimes an inadequate reaction of the psyche is connected precisely with the blockage of consciousness or certain feelings that have arisen in a difficult situation. So try to remember everything that happened in the details. Start from the very beginning and gradually approach a specific event that hurts you. At first it may be difficult, and if you cannot cope with emotions, then proceed gradually, each time moving one or several steps forward. When you can reproduce the incident in full and in detail, focus on your own feelings, especially those that cause you to experience discomfort. Thus, having experienced everything anew, you will unblock the consciousness and be able to perceive everything adequately and, finally, accept it.
- You can also pronounce what happened or describe on paper.
- Try to change the situation, especially if it reminds you of unpleasant events that left a trace in memory. So, you can move to a new apartment or even change the city. In a new place, everything will be different, and the victim may perceive himself as a completely different person, and in this case the past will be forgotten.
- Try not to lose touch with reality, stay up to date with what is happening around you, otherwise you will simply fall out of life, and it will not be easy to return to it.
- Sometimes you just need to talk, and not necessarily a loved one, you can talk with the unfamiliar or write a message on the thematic forum.
- Make a clear distinction between past and present, understand that you have already experienced the events that caused you pain.
- Try to do creativity or sports.
The above tips will help you cope with the effects of psychological trauma and forget everything that happened.
What is emotional and psychological trauma?
Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of stress, the strength of which turned out to be excessive for the psyche. As a result, a person loses a sense of security, experiencing impotence and helplessness.
Traumatic experience is not always accompanied by physical effects. This is any situation in which you experience overvoltage and helplessness. And this is not a specific concept, but your personal emotional response in response to an event. The more horror and helplessness you experience, the greater the chance of injury.
Causes of emotional and psychological trauma
Most likely the event will lead to injury if:
- It happened unexpectedly.
- You were not ready for it.
- You felt powerless to prevent it.
- The event happened very quickly.
- Someone deliberately cruelly treated you.
- It happened in childhood.
Emotional and psychological trauma can be caused by a one-time event, for example, an accident, a natural illness, or an episode of violence. Or maybe by prolonged stressful exposure: life in domestic violence, next to criminal elements, suffering from cancer.
The most common examples of traumatic events are:
- Sports and domestic injuries.
- Surgery (especially in the first 3 years of life).
- Sudden death of a loved one.
- Car crash.
- The gap significant relationships.
- Degrading and deeply disappointing experience.
- Loss of functionality and chronic severe illness.
- Risk factors that increase your vulnerability to traumatic events.
Not all potentially traumatic events lead to emotional and psychological trauma. Some people recover quickly after a serious traumatic experience, while others are hurt that, at first glance, it is much less shocking.
People who are already under the influence of stress factors, as well as those who suffered something similar in childhood, have increased vulnerability. For them, the incident becomes a reminder, provoking re-traumatization.
Child injury increases the risk of injury in the future.
Experiencing trauma in childhood has a lasting effect: such children see the world as a frightening and dangerous place. And if the injury is not cured, then they transfer feelings of fear and helplessness to adulthood, becoming more vulnerable to injuries in the future.
Child injury occurs in any event that violates the sense of security of the child:
- Unstable and dangerous environment
- Separation from parents
- Serious illness
- Traumatic medical procedures,
- Sexual, physical and verbal abuse,
- Domestic abuse
- Being bullied
- Symptoms of emotional and psychological trauma.
In response to a traumatic event and re-injury, people react in different ways, which manifest themselves in a wide range of physical and emotional reactions. There is no "right" and "wrong" way to respond to a traumatic event: feel, think and act. Therefore, do not blame yourself and others for certain actions. Your behavior is normal reaction to abnormal event.
Emotional trauma symptoms:
- Shock, rejection, loss of faith,
- Rage, irritation, mood jumps,
- Guilt, shame, self-incrimination,
- Feelings of melancholy and hopelessness,
- Confusion, impaired concentration,
- Anxiety and fear
- Feeling of abandonment.
Physical symptoms of injury:
- Insomnia and nightmares,
- Acute and chronic pain
- Increased fatigue
- Attention disorder,
- Muscular tension.
These symptoms and feelings typically last from a few days to a few months and disappear as your injuries stay. But even when you feel better, painful memories and feelings can still emerge - especially at such moments as the anniversary of the event or the image, sound and situation that resembled.
Griefing is a normal process after injury
Regardless of whether death was involved in a traumatic event or not, the survivor is faced with the need to experience grief from the loss of at least a sense of security. And the natural reaction to loss is grief. As well as those who lost loved ones, survivors of trauma go through the process of mourning. This is a painful process in which he needs the support of other people, there is an urgent need to talk about his feelings, develop a strategy of self-support.
When should you seek help from a specialist?
Recovery from injury takes time, and each does it in its own rhythm and in its own way. But if months have passed, and your symptoms do not go away, then you need to contact a specialist.
Seek help from a specialist if:
- Your business and home are crumbling
- You suffer from anxiety and fear,
- You can not be in a relationship, afraid of intimacy,
- Suffering from sleep disturbances, nightmares and flashes of traumatic memories,
- More and more avoid things that are reminiscent of injury
- Emotionally distanced from others and feel abandoned
- Use alcohol and drugs to feel better.
How to determine the right specialist?
Dealing with trauma can be frightening, painful, and provoking retraumatization. Therefore, it should be carried out by an experienced specialist.
Do not rush to the first one, spend a little time searching. It is important that the specialist has experience with traumatic experience. But the most important thing is the quality of your relationship with him. Choose the one with which you will be comfortable and safe. Trust your instincts. If you do not feel safe, understood, do not feel respect, then find another specialist. Well, when in your relationship there is warmth and trust.
After meeting with a specialist, ask yourself:
- Did you feel comfortable discussing your problems with a specialist?
- Did you have a feeling that the therapist understands what you are talking about?
- Which of your problems were taken seriously, and which were given the minimum time?
- Did he treat you with respect and compassion?
- Do you believe that you can restore trust in a relationship with this therapist?
Treatment of psychological and emotional trauma
In the process of healing psychological and emotional trauma, you must face unbearable feelings and memories that you have avoided. Otherwise, they will come back again and again.
In the process of injury therapy occurs:
- elaboration of traumatic memories and feelings
- defusing the run or fight stress response system,
- training in the regulation of strong emotions,
- building or restoring the ability to trust people
- Key moments recovery after emotional and psychological trauma.
Recovery takes time. No need to rush yourself to live quickly and get rid of all the symptoms and consequences. The healing process is impossible to whip up with willpower. Allow yourself to experience different feelings without guilt and conviction. Here are a few notes about how to help yourself and loved ones.
Self-Help Strategy # 1: Keep Out Of Isolation
From injury, you can fall into isolation from people, but this will only make it worse. Communicating with other people will help the healing process, so make an effort to maintain your relationship and not spend too much time alone.
Ask for support. It is important to talk about your feelings and ask for the support you need. Contact someone you trust: a family member, a colleague, a psychologist.
Participate in social activity, even if you do not like it. Do "normal" things with other people, something that has nothing to do with traumatic experience. Rebuild the relationship that you broke due to injury.
Find a support group for survivors of traumatic experiences. Contact with people who, like you, have experienced a similar condition, will help reduce your sense of isolation and understand how others cope with their condition.
Self Help Strategy # 2: Stay Grounded
Being grounded means being in contact with reality, staying in contact with yourself.
Keep doing the usual things - regular walks, sleep, food, work and sport. There must be time for relaxation and communication.
Break work tasks into small pieces. Praise yourself for even the smallest achievements.
Find something that helps you feel better and keep your mind occupied (reading, cooking, playing with friends and animals), it will help you to keep from diving into memories and a traumatic experience.
Allow yourself to experience those feelings that pop up. Notice your feelings that arise in connection with the injury, accept and support their appearance. Think of them as part of the mourning process needed for healing.
Physical grounding: principles of self-help. If you feel a violation of orientation, confusion, sudden strong feelings, do the following:
- Sit on the chair. Feel the floor on your feet as you lean on it. Squeeze the buttocks on the chair, feel the support at this point. Feel your back resting on the chair. Bring back the bodily feeling of stability.
- Look around and select 6 objects of different colors, consider them - bring the attention from the inside to the outside.
- Pay attention to your breathing: take a few slow and deep breaths.
Self-help strategy number 3: Take care of your health
In a healthy body, mental recovery processes are more active.
Watch your sleep. A traumatic experience can disrupt your sleep. And the consequences of sleep disorders - aggravate the occurrence of traumatic symptoms. Therefore, go to bed every day at the same time, preferably before 12 o'clock at night, so that sleep lasts 7–9 hours.
Avoid alcohol and drugs, because they is always worsen the course of traumatic symptoms, provoking depression, anxiety and isolation.
Play sports. Регулярные упражнения поднимают уровень серотонина, эндорфинов и других веществ, повышающих настроение.They also raise self-esteem and help regulate sleep. For the desired effect is enough 30-60 minutes a day.
Eat a balanced diet. Eat small meals often throughout the day. This will help you maintain the right level of energy and reduce mood swings. Less simple carbohydrates (sweet and flour), because they quickly change the composition of the blood, which affects the mood. More vegetables, fish, grains.
Reduce the impact of stress factors. Pay attention to rest and relaxation. Master the relaxation systems: meditation, yoga, taiji, breathing practices. Spend time doing activities that bring you pleasure - a favorite hobby or an active holiday with friends.
Helping people with emotional and psychological trauma
Of course, it’s hard when your loved one suffers from a traumatic experience, but your support can be a key factor in his recovery.
Show patience and understanding. Recovery from emotional and psychological trauma takes time. Be patient with the recovery process, because everyone has their own speed. Do not blame for the reactions that arise in your loved one: he may be temporarily violent or closed on the contrary, but show understanding.
Offer practical help for your loved one to return to normal everyday activities: shopping, hassle around the house, or just have access to talk.
Do not push the proposal and talk, but just be in the access. It’s hard for some people to talk about what happened, and you don’t need to insist that they share if they don’t want to. Just indicate your willingness to talk and listen when they are ready.
Help relax and return to socialization. Offer together to go in for sports or relaxation practitioners, search together for friends by interests and hobbies, to do something that can bring them pleasure.
Do not accept the reaction to your account. Your loved one may experience rage, desolation, abandonment, emotionally withdraw. Remember that this is the result of injury and may not have anything to do with your relationship.
Help for a child in distress
It is very important to communicate openly with a child who has suffered an injury. With that, there is always fear and a desire not to discuss the painful topic. But then you leave the child in isolation in his experiences. Tell him that it’s normal to worry about a traumatic event. That his reactions are normal.
How do children react to emotional and mental trauma? Some typical reactions and ways to deal with them:
- Regression. Many children try to return to an early age, where they were safer and they felt cared for. Smaller children begin to wet the bed and ask for a bottle. Older - afraid to be alone. It is important to be careful and respectful of these symptoms.
- Take the blame for the event itself. Children under the age of 7–8 think they are to blame for what happened. And it may be completely irrational, but just be patient and repeat to them that they are not to blame.
- Sleep disturbance Some children have difficulty falling asleep, while others often wake up and have terrible dreams. If possible, give the child a soft toy, cover it, leave the night light on. Spend more time with him before bedtime, talking or reading. Be patient. It takes time to sleep back to normal.
- Feeling helpless. It will help discuss and plan measures that can prevent similar experiences in the future, engaging in targeted activities helps to restore a sense of control.
What is psychological trauma and when does it occur? (Video)
Psychological trauma is a reaction to life circumstances that leads to long-term emotional experiences of a negative nature. If a person is experiencing too much an external event, it can lead to the development of his psychological trauma. At the same time, an event can be both really dangerous and terrible, for example, a catastrophe or loss of a dear person, and very harmless, like a conflict at work or disappointment in a friend.
The reaction to the circumstances does not depend on their severity, but on the perception of the event by the person. The same event for one person will be a minor nuisance, for another - a disaster. Some people find it difficult to cope with problems, so the most minor troubles can become serious stress for them.
Unresolved psychotrauma can lead to increased anxiety, depression and panic attacks.
If a situation seems to a person so complicated that he does not know how to cope with it and sees it as a threat to his whole lifestyle or life itself, or the situation destroys his view of his life, she can provoke the development of psychological trauma. When a person feels that he is losing ground, sees that his life is being destroyed, he ceases to perceive the world around us as something reliable or real and loses confidence in himself and in his future. To live a normal life for such a person is not easy.
What happens to a person who has experienced psychological trauma? In many respects it depends on the injury, but there are also similarities in all the victims. In the post-traumatic period, most of the internal human forces are sent to forget what happened. Gradually, if the traumatic factor is removed, everything connected with it is forgotten, all feelings and sensations are repressed. But in the psyche psychotraumatic experience persists.
What does this mean? This means that as soon as something similar to a traumatic event occurs in external events or another event occurs that could cause injury, all the negative memories will sweep with a new force. This can lead to a strong emotional outburst, feelings will flow with a new force and predict a person’s reaction and the consequences of this reaction is very difficult.
First aid for psychological trauma is to create a sense of security, therefore, victims of disasters are often put a blanket on their heads.
If the traumatic experience is repressed and consists in a kind of capsule, then it slowly begins to destroy the human psyche, and then his body. Repressed psychological trauma creates a semblance of an internal conflict between the existing personality and the traumatized one. At the subconscious level, a person tries to forget a part of his “I”. It takes a lot of energy and interferes with normal life, inhibits personal development and leads to the emergence of psychosomatic diseases.
It is very often possible to meet with a dismissive attitude towards psychological trauma and their consequences. But no one can argue with the fact that psychological trauma greatly influences the future life of a person and can shape his opinion and influence his actions.
It is not easy for a non-specialist to diagnose the presence of psychological trauma, but there are some symptoms that will allow her to be suspected. These symptoms include:
- feeling of weakness, depression, anger or resentment, absent-mindedness and inability to concentrate,
- constant discomfort, including physical,
- reluctance to do something and apathy,
- an overwhelming sense of the futility of any action and hopelessness.
In addition, psychological trauma can be suspected if you know about the presence of the most unfavorable factor that can provoke it. Also, the presence of injury is evidenced by the constant avoidance of situations that directly or indirectly remind of the unpleasant situation that provoked it.
It is very important to help the victim of psychotrauma to get rid of feelings of guilt.
There are also indirect symptoms that usually occur on the background of psychological trauma and will help in their diagnosis. These include anxiety, fear or guilt feelings, drowsiness, alienation or unmotivated outbursts of aggression, periodic panic attacks, mood swings or depression, as well as general causeless physical discomfort.
If your loved one has experienced severe psychological trauma, and you want to help him cope with this problem - be prepared for long and hard work. And remember - it is your support that can be the decisive factor that will help healing.
The first thing that will be needed in the treatment of psychological trauma is patience. Be prepared for the fact that time will need a lot, and the pace of recovery are purely individual. You can not judge the reaction of the injured person by their own or by someone else, everything is very individual here.
The second is practical support. It is possible that a person will not be easy to solve the most common household problems, for example, to buy food or pay bills, so you have to help him with this. Try to help him gradually return to normal life, but without pressure.
Third, do not require the person to tell you about their experiences. It is possible that it is too difficult to talk about it. He will definitely talk when he comes to this himself and at this moment he must be ready to listen. It is very important that a person knows that he will always be listened to and always understood.
Psychological trauma can be prevented by asking for help immediately after a traumatic event, before the first sleep.
Help dear person recover physically, relax and communicate more. Encourage his desire for physical activity and any action.
Do not take the symptoms of injury at your own expense. A person may become irritable or aggressive, withdrawn or distant emotionally. This in most cases does not mean that something is wrong with you or you are doing something wrong. Most likely, this is just a consequence of injury.
How to cope with psychotrauma independently
In some cases, a person can help himself deal with injury. But for this you need to carefully try and follow our advice.
After injury can not be isolated. Isolation from other people and constant thinking about the problem will only aggravate the situation. Learn to ask for support. It is very important not to close in oneself, but to open up to a loved one. This can be a relative, friend, loved one, or a priest you trust.
Try to participate in social activities, live an active and “normal” life. You must try to just do the usual things, far from the traumatic experience. If you have lost your friends because of the injury, try to resume communication, this will help you return to life faster. Sometimes it helps to communicate with people who have experienced similar injuries.
After an injury it is very important not to lose touch with reality. Often people think that the whole world has ceased to exist after their lives have changed. In order not to lose the “connection with the land,” it is important to lead a normal life, stick to a stable daily routine, work, try to learn something new. Find a lesson that will bring you pleasure, you can attend some courses or groups, choose a new hobby. Allow yourself to feel your pain and not lose touch with reality in order to understand that there is pain, but there is life after it.
The treatment of psychological trauma is a long process that can take years.
After psychological trauma, it is very important to pay enough attention to physical health. You can start to play sports. This will help prevent the exacerbation of chronic diseases and the development of psychosomatic diseases due to stress. In addition, regular physical activity will allow you to feel your body and not lose touch with reality.
Psychological injury: symptoms and effects
Unlike physical damage to the body, psychological trauma is not easily recognized. An outside observer can guess its presence only by indirect signs - changes in behavior, mimicry, manner of speech, ideomotorike.
The key symptom of psychological trauma is exactly the same as physical pain. At the same time, heartache can be tolerated as hard as physical pain. According to subjective sensations, intense emotional suffering literally tears apart the body parts. Memories of a traumatic incident over the years do not lose their relevance and pain, in contrast to events that do not have a traumatic content. Sometimes a person is even ready to commit suicide in order to get rid of the psychological suffering caused by these memories. Alas, investing huge financial resources in the development of surgical services and trauma points, we still do not attach due importance to the organization of assistance for psychological trauma.
It should be noted that psychological trauma is not always reflected in the psyche as a painful experience or an involuntary memory. Experiences that could not be processed and assimilated by consciousness find relaxation in the bodily sphere. What happens in psychology is called "conversion."
The overwhelming number of conversion disorders easily show a symbolic connection with the nature of the psychological trauma. So, gynecological diseases develop in women as a result of traumatic sexual experience or on the basis of feelings of guilt after an abortion. Events that a person could not “digest”, lead to diseases of the digestive system, too close to “taken to the heart” manifests itself in the form of cardialgic syndrome.
Psychological trauma leads to loss of healthy sleep. A person may suffer from insomnia, intermittent sleep, or recurring nightmarish dreams in which he relives the shocking incidents. In the daytime, a traumatic event is played out in the mind in the form of obsessive fantasies and thoughts. All this is repeated until the person comes into contact with the repressed emotions and integrates the painful experience.
And no matter how unacceptable for the ego, the psychic contents are forced out into the unconscious, they still remain in the psyche and are expressed in periodic, hardly controlled attacks of anxiety and anger, arising without special external reasons.
As a sign of psychological trauma, various forms of restrictive and avoidant behavior deserve particular attention — certain situations, places, and relationships. The leading motive of a personality with a traumatized psyche is the thought: “This should never happen again!”. Severe psychological trauma leads to the development of social phobia, agoraphobia, panic attacks. One form of avoidance behavior (in particular, thoughts and memories) is alcoholism and drug addiction, as well as game addiction.
The form of psychopathology depends not only on the nature of the psychological trauma, but also on the age, which had a stressful effect. In children under 12, post-traumatic stress disorder is most often observed with loss of information about traumatic events from memory, enuresis, neurological disorders, tics, speech disorders. In almost 50 percent of cases since adolescence, major depressive disorder or dysthymia (chronic depression) is also diagnosed. The experience of psychological trauma can also act as a provocateur for a person’s departure from the norms of social life (neglect of social prestige, loss of respect from the side of close people).
The severity of symptoms can range from mild to very severe suffering, even disability. The destructive power of psychological trauma depends on the level of stress tolerance of a person, the significance of the event. But still, most of the injured find the strength to lead a full life, especially if they have been provided with qualified assistance in a timely manner.
Causes of psychological trauma
No one has yet succeeded in avoiding psychological trauma of at least a mild severity. It can be argued that life is initially traumatic. Any event that is unexpected and threatens human values can provoke the occurrence of psychological trauma.
In some cases, it is not necessary to be personally involved in the tragedy in order to receive psychological trauma. Sometimes it is enough to be an outside observer of scenes of violence or an accident that happened to another person, so that the psyche was harmed.
At the same time, observation in itself or participation in dramatic events is a necessary but not sufficient condition for traumatization. In principle, any incident can go unnoticed by the mental life of one person, and provoke the development of psychopathology of any degree of severity of another. The outcome is determined by how much a person evaluates an event as threatening its integrity and life. Since the ability to rationally comprehend what is happening in childhood is not yet sufficiently developed, most of the psychological trauma is formed during this period.
The catalyst is not external events, but a way to react to them. Например, сами по себе удары при физическом наказании ребенка — не гарантия развития у него психологической/эмоциональной травмы.It all depends on how the child perceives the behavior of the parents - as a fair reaction to his offense or moral violence and a real threat to his life.
It is essential for the development of psychopathology whether it was possible at the moment of stress exposure to respond vigorously to it. If it is impossible to translate mental stress into action, the forced suppression of the emotional response increases the risk of mental breakdown. When the victim responded to the event according to his temperament (from crying to the act of revenge), the affect diminishes. The insult to which the offender was able to respond, at least in words, is recalled differently than what he had to endure.
Types of psychological trauma
In psychology, there are several classifications of psychotrauma. Depending on the intensity and duration of the impact of negative factors on the psyche consider the following types.
- Shock psychological trauma (fright neurosis). It is characterized by spontaneity, short duration. Occurs in response to sudden, completely unforeseen events. The death of a relative after a long serious illness is perceived differently than his unexpected departure from life. As a result of a sharp emotional arousal, clouding of consciousness occurs, blocking the majority of physical and mental functions. Instinctive urges to flee, defend or attack, characteristic of all mammals, come to the fore. Any kind of affect, delirium, seizures may occur. Instead of nervous excitement and increased motor activity, emotional stupor and paralysis of the will can occur. In this case, no appeals, persuasions, slaps do not lead a person out of a state of disorientation.
- Acute psychological trauma. Also has a relatively short-term nature. It develops under the influence of negatively colored experiences as a result of a break in relations, moral humiliation. Humiliation is a serious blow to the psyche, because the preservation of self-esteem in the eyes of other people or their own is the deep value of any individual.
- Chronic psychological trauma. It develops for a long time - sometimes several years or even decades. It is formed when the human psyche is exposed to prolonged exposure to negative factors (an unfavorable climate in the family, being in prison, a disease or injury that led to physical inferiority or disability).
Depending on the nature of the traumatic events, the following types of psychological traumas are distinguished.
- Existential. Occurs because of the acute awareness of their mortality, but the emotional rejection of this fact. Occurs after experiencing events that threaten life (a dangerous disease, an accident, being in a combat zone, a natural disaster, an accident).
- Injuries of loss (a close, significant person). Especially hard to experience in childhood.
- Psychological relationship trauma. Difficult to diagnose. It is formed when a person is in an unhealthy relationship that destroys his psyche for a long time. For example, a parent, spouse or child for years, behaves unpredictably, as it has mental abnormalities, suffers from alcoholism, drug addiction. Relationship injury may also result from the betrayal of a loved one.
- Trauma own mistakes. It arises because of the inability of a person to accept the fact that he committed actions that led to irreparable consequences. For example, the driver knocked down a pedestrian, the surgeon made a mistake that cost the patient a life.
Stages of psychological trauma
In the dynamics of the state of persons under the blow of sudden stress factors, there are the following stages of response.
- Phase of vital reactions (duration - from several seconds to 15 minutes). Characterized by a change in perception of the scale of time and intensity of stimuli. For example, there is a decrease in pain sensitivity for fractures, burns. The work of the psyche is fully subordinated to the imperative of survival as a biological unit, which leads to a reduction of moral norms and restrictions. For example, a person jumps out of a burning building, forgetting that his relatives are in it, who also need to be rescued. During rehabilitation, it is important to convey to the victims that in extreme situations it is almost impossible to resist the powerful instinct of self-preservation.
- Acute emotional shock with over-mobilization (from 3 to 5 hours). At the person the attention becomes aggravated, the speed of mental processes, working capacity increases, reckless courage appears. The behavior is aimed at saving the people around, the realization of moral ideals and ideas about professional duty.
- Psychophysiological demobilization (up to 3 days). Understanding the scale of the tragedy. Among the emotional reactions in the first place are confusion, depression, emptiness. Disorder of attention and memory. Among the physiological symptoms observed weakness, breathing difficulties, pallor of the skin, tremor, disturbances in the digestive system.
- Stage resolution (from 3 to 12 days). Victims claim stabilization of mood and well-being. However, according to objective data, the majority of injured have vegetative disorders, there is a low level of efficiency, unwillingness to discuss what happened, the emotional background remains low.
- Stage of recovery (12 days after receiving psychological trauma). Activation of communication with the lack of positive changes in the physiological state of the body.
- Stage of delayed reactions (a month later and later). Sleep disorder, irrational fears, psychosomatic disorders, pronounced negativism, conflict.
As a result of a long traumatic impact, the following stages of psychological trauma are observed.
- Initial phase: getting into a long-term traumatic situation. In essence, it coincides with the psychological response to a sudden stress effect and is the passage through the 6 stages of response described above.
- Adaptation period. As far as possible, a person is reconciled with a life situation, limited to satisfying short-term needs. Later, the activity decreases, a feeling of helplessness, apathy appears. The forces are undermined to resist the troubles (for example, the unemployed lose hope and refuse to attempt to find a job that has been captured - to free themselves).
- Stage of returning to normal life. At first, a person may not be aware of his negative emotions. Stress can be masked by a feeling of joy, euphoria. But soon replaced by depression, irritation, anger.
How to get rid of psychological trauma?
Get ready for the fact that the treatment of psychological trauma may be delayed for many years. Periods of remission may be replaced by exacerbations. Of course, it is much better when there is at least supportive therapy and control of a person’s mental state by a specialist. Pathological processes in the psyche with an injury that is not completely cured can proceed imperceptibly for an inexperienced observer. And then pour into unexpected exacerbations in the form of bouts of depression, unmotivated outbreaks of aggression.
How to help survive the psychological trauma of a loved one?
Family support can be a decisive factor in healing. Of course, if it is mentally safe and has sufficient potential to cope with the therapeutic role.
On the part of relatives and close friends, a common mistake is the desire for an immediate “study” of painful experiences. Do not press on the person. Do not pull out of him information about the events and his feelings about this. It is likely that it is still very difficult for him to talk about what happened. He will share with you when he is ready. The main thing - to make it clear that you can count on.
In a state of acute stress, it is difficult for a person to solve simple household problems. Take over the purchase and cooking, payment of utility bills. Make sure that your relative / friend feeds on time, takes medicine.
Do not take the symptoms of psychological trauma on your account. A person can become irritable, aggressive, or behave very cold and detached. Show patience and understanding. In most cases, this does not mean that you are doing something wrong.
You can not help another person if they themselves are not able to maintain emotional balance. Whatever terrible event happens to your loved ones, do not allow yourself to be dragged into the abyss of sadness. Keep an optimistic outlook on life and the belief that your friend will cope with what happened.
Do not hold back emotions
Do not be alarmed and ashamed of your emotions. Anger, fear, sadness, resentment, thirst for revenge - these are all normal human reactions. And if you allow yourself to feel them, they will not necessarily entail some destructive actions. It is much more dangerous to keep the negative in oneself, since it tends to accumulate and discharge at an unexpected moment in the form of uncontrollable affects. Negative feelings can be spilled on paper - try to keep a diary. If you want to vent anger, you can buy a punching bag. Or try to play music with the appropriate mood (aggressive, sad) and start dancing.
Work with psychological trauma
Try to find the strength to reproduce in your memory the events that provoked the development of psychological trauma. It seems that such actions can only cause re-experiencing of suffering. However, the meaning of psychological trauma lies precisely in blocking consciousness or certain feelings in order to protect the ego.
Scrolling through the memories occurred, pay special attention to the events that cause you the greatest discomfort. Thus, without avoiding unpleasant sensations, you unblock the consciousness and be able to perceive everything adequately. If you find gaps in your memories, perhaps the defense mechanisms of the psyche are very strong. And to get around them, you have to resort to regressive self-hypnosis. Learn more about the method here.
Don't get stuck
It is human nature to direct all his attention to what has brought him the greatest suffering. We are so immersed in the problem that we forget to notice all the good things that are present in our life. And although for sure your values after the hard events have changed dramatically, if you wish, you can always find the little things for which you feel gratitude. Allow yourself to feel your pain. But try to find an occupation that will also bring you some bright emotions.
Find a support group
Take a look around. Perhaps there is a person in your environment who is experiencing right now through the same thing as you, and in his face, you will find an understanding interlocutor? Try searching for like-minded people on the forums on the Internet. Perhaps you are lucky and will be able to find someone who has already coped with a problem like yours. And this person will give you good advice.
Get rid of secondary benefits
There is a possibility that the fears and psychosomatic disorders that have developed as a result of psychological trauma bring you some unconscious advantages. This phenomenon psychiatrists call escape to the disease. Most often helplessness is practiced to get rid of some unpleasant duties. For example, psychological trauma serves as an excuse to give up the struggle for life, to lower the bar for work and interpersonal communication. To understand what may be your secondary benefit from the disease, answer the questions.
- What prevents me from doing a symptom? The answer points to the wishes that were banned.
- What does this symptom force me to do? The answer to the question with the prefix "not" shows what desires are blocked.
- What unacceptable and undesirable happens if I realize my blocked desires? The answer to this question demonstrates the beliefs that one must get rid of in order to recover.
How to cope with psychological trauma?
Psychological trauma is a condition of a person when he cannot survive a difficult event that previously threatened his life and safety, as a result of which he loses his vitality and resources. Every time a person finds himself in a situation in which he experiences a state of loss of security, he gets a traumatic emotional charge. If such situations are repeated over the course of a lifetime, the injuries are in the hundreds and constitute whole chains that affect not only the emotional state, but also the beliefs and behavior of the person, as well as his health.
A psychological reaction to trauma can be acute, immediately following an exposure, or delayed in time. For example, the negative experience of early childhood (loss or divorce of parents, disturbing or ignoring parenting styles, illness or dependence of a family member, material restrictions, conditions of war) can accompany a person throughout life, causing unconscious fear, panic, confusion, helplessness. At the same time, a person may not understand the origins of these feelings, use stereotyped psychological defenses, repeating the vicious circle of failures and painful experiences.
Childhood trauma or inheritance?
The traumatic experience gained in childhood and left untreated, as an adult, can cause various psychological or even psychiatric problems. A traumatic event and unprocessed anxious feelings can live in the subconscious of people for many years. Other events already taking place in adulthood can arouse old wounds caused by negative childhood experiences.
But there is another problem associated with traumatic situations. There is a mechanism of hereditary transmission of psychological trauma: if it is not allowed in one generation, then it is inherited by children or grandchildren. Traumatic experience, guilt, shame form a complex interweaving, the impact of which is not limited to the first generation alone, but also passes to the next generation. Thus, children become “carriers” of unproduced suffering and trauma, unrecognized guilt and responsibility of their parents. Such unresolved and untreated psychological trauma can cause mental disorders in future generations - for example, schizophrenia. For this reason, it is recommended to be attentive to your psychological state. In this case, to restore the psychological balance, it is necessary to make great efforts and seek professional psychotherapeutic assistance.
In adults, there may be psychological trauma unrelated to children's experiences. The reason for their most often become the sudden death of loved ones, car accidents with serious consequences for health, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, severe divorce. The trauma is fixed when the negative emotions and feelings that arise are not worked through, but accumulate.
How to detect psychological trauma?
Manifestations of psychological trauma can be varied. In some cases, it is depression, low mood, a feeling of melancholy, despair, hopelessness. In others, it is impossible to get out of the vicious circle of repeating an unsuccessful life scenario. For example, getting into co-dependencies, the inability to build a family or a relationship of trust with a partner, job dissatisfaction.
Perhaps the formation of sustained reactions of fear, fear, mistrust on certain events that resemble traumatic. The consequences of injuries can be expressed by anger, irritation, mood swings, anxiety, the occurrence of vegetative and somatic disorders. The occurrence of these reactions may be delayed in time.
Psychological trauma can look like an inadequate emotional reaction, physical or somatic experiences in ordinary, at first glance, situations.
For example, a person, being away from home, notices that he has anxiety, heartbeat, or other uncomfortable feelings (for example, fear, danger). If such sensations occur for a long time and in certain situations, they can be caused by the effects of children's psychological trauma.
In addition, psychological trauma may be accompanied by memory lapses. Memories of a traumatic event are erased from memory.
In this case, people often do not remember themselves in childhood: how they lived, what they did, what happened to them. Such lapses in memory can be a sign that something traumatic has happened to this person in childhood, and the memory has blocked memories of these negative events. Например, человек не помнит лица близких ему людей, не узнаёт на фотографии родственников, с которыми много общался в детстве. Такие пробелы в памяти могут быть признаком затаившейся в глубине сознания непроработанной детской травмы.In such cases, the human memory will actively block memories of experienced psycho-traumatic situations and do everything to preserve the functionality of the person, avoiding severe traumatic experiences. To restore mental health, it is very important to detect such failures; only a professional psychotherapist or a psychiatrist can help in this.
Is it possible to measure the level of trauma and the consequences of traumatic events?
To establish the relationship between somatic disorders and the effects of stressful, traumatic events, American scientists Holmes and Rage tried. They managed to form a scale in which each traumatic event corresponded to a score indicating the gravity of the impact. At the top of this scale are the most serious incidents, which include: the death of a spouse and family member, hostage taking, divorce or separation with a partner, imprisonment, physical injury or illness, dismissal, retirement. It is worth noting that such positive events as the wedding, reconciliation of spouses, pregnancy, childbirth are also included in the scale of stressful events.
Other traumatic events are, for example, reorganization at work, change in financial position, change of job or position, growing debts, change of residence. Those who wish to measure their level of stress are invited to sum up the points corresponding to the events that have occurred during the year. The resulting figure will indicate the risk of post-traumatic stress.
The consequence of psychological trauma may be the occurrence of post-traumatic stress disorder and reduced adaptation. Post-traumatic disorder can manifest itself as a constant experience of a traumatic event in thought or in a dream. As a result, a person's ability to concentrate is reduced, confusion and lethargy appear. Strong experiences in relation to a significant traumatic event can reduce sensitivity to other life experiences. Emotional deafness, isolation, self-absorption appears. Reduced performance, the ability to enjoy life. Anxiety, anxiety, risk of depression, sleep disorders appear. The duration of post-traumatic disorder is more than one month.
In extreme circumstances, threatening the life and safety of a person, as part of an acute reaction to stress, various disturbances of consciousness, perception and behavior may occur. Such severe traumatic events include natural and man-made disasters and their consequences in the form of the death of loved ones, the destruction or loss of housing, the consequences of an accident, rape, assault, fire, and hostilities. An acute reaction to stress in severe cases can manifest itself as disorientation, a contraction of consciousness, and an inadequate response to external stimuli.
This condition lasts from several hours to several days.
For example, a person who has lost loved ones may refuse to believe in what happened, while retaining the conviction that his relatives are alive. Denial, protest, anger, bargaining and acceptance are the stages of experiencing grief and loss. In human behavior, in this case, inhibition, excitation or alternation of these stages may prevail.
The risk of acute psychological trauma increases with physical and psychological exhaustion. In addition, at risk are people with a weak nervous system, excessive excitability, hypersensitivity, infantile and demonstrative personality traits.
What could be “false salvation”?
Ways to overcome stress can be destructive, to prevent a person from leaving a difficult moral state. For example, escaping from a problem, avoiding openly expressing one's feelings, social distancing, thinking stuck on a problem, inability to distract and switch. Feelings that corrode a person in this case - despair, self-pity, self-incrimination, anger, aggression.
What can help?
As well as physical trauma (operations, fractures of limbs, etc.) make changes in the former way of life and leaves an “imprint” of what happened in the body, so psychological trauma leaves its mark on the human psyche for the whole subsequent life.
Only with the help of support of others, the system of self-support and psychological assistance, the process of acceptance and recovery is possible.
In therapy, group, individual and family psychotherapy can be used.
Depending on the severity of psychological trauma, a person may resort to certain types of assistance and support. The ability to express grief with tears or words, to share it with another person, is a powerful resource and a way to cope with injury. Also, in a stressful situation, a person may try to find an alternative explanation for what is happening, giving himself the opportunity to calm down, take a fresh look at the problem.
There are situations when the psychological trauma is so great that the usual methods of protection do not help. In this case, you need the help of a specialist, the appointment of drugs, the passage of psychotherapy.
In order for a person to come to himself, a lot of time must pass. It should once again live through all the traumatized emotions. Griefing is a natural process after a traumatic event, whether it is the loss of a loved one or a trauma of a different nature. This is a painful process, and therefore it is important in such a situation to be able to accept the support of other people. In addition, the process of experiencing psychotrauma must be supported by their own desire to get rid of oppressive events.