Child, Adolescent and Adult Psychiatry

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Understanding Traumatic Experiences

Traumatic experiences are disturbing or distressing events that have occurred in an individual’s past. These experiences are not classified as traumatic based on objective facts, because it is the individual’s subjective experience that determines whether they have been traumatized. The more frightened and helpless a person feels, the more likely it would be personally considered as a traumatic experience, and the more likely that the damage will be long-lasting.

These experiences could include physical trauma to the body, such as a wound that has inflicted severe damage. This type of trauma is easier to repair, as it can be remedied with the help of medical treatment along with the body’s natural healing process.

Emotional trauma is a bit more difficult to overcome, as it can have massive impact on a person’s brain. Due to the brain’s intricate neurological pathways, the level of stress brought upon a traumatized individual cannot only be treated by conventional medicine. Medicinal treatments should also be accompanied by moral support, the comfort provided by loved ones, and a specific treatment regimen designed to instill trust in the victim. This is usually done by an experienced trauma specialist, as they are familiar with handling victims who need help in regulating strong emotions, pent-up energies, and processing negative memories.

General events that, if experienced repeatedly or intensely, could cause trauma are the following:

  • Injuries from sports such as falling
  • Certain types of surgery that may have appeared intimidating or hopeless
  • Death of a loved one, especially if sudden or unexpected
  • A long-term relationship coming to an undesired end
  • Discovering the presence of a lifetime illness or disease
  • Humiliation in a public area or among valued company

The above events only have the potential to cause trauma, meaning if any of them has been experienced, it does not necessarily mean lasting emotional or physical damage has occurred. After a potentially traumatic event, it is absolutely normal to react with shock, anger, confusion, fear, and shame. In a physical scenario, it’s also normal for your body to react with fatigue, tension in the muscles, lingering aches and sleepless nights.

However, it’s important to determine when normal reactions have crossed into the boundaries of trauma. If these symptoms persist and progress into insomnia, emotional withdrawal, disconnection from society, sensations of numbness or other more serious signs, seek out an experienced psychiatrist who offers treatment sessions for trauma,  or any dedicated specialist to help suffering victims get back on their feet before it further develops into PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).

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