Sanctuary for the Abused

Friday, December 23, 2016

Trauma: Emotional & Psychological



Causes, Symptoms, Effects, and Treatment
Trauma. The word brings to mind the effects of such major events as war, rape, kidnapping, abuse, torture, or other similar assault. The emotional aftermath of such events, recognized by the medical and psychological communities, and increasingly by the general public, is known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Now there is a new field of investigation that is less familiar, even to professionals: emotional or psychological trauma.

What is emotional or psychological trauma?

The ability to recognize emotional trauma has changed radically over the course of history. Until rather recently psychological trauma was noted only in men after catastrophic wars. The women's movement in the sixties broadened the definition of emotional trauma to include physically, verbally, emotionally and sexually abused women and children. Now because of the discoveries made in the nineties known as the decade of the brain, psychological trauma has further broadened its definition.

Recent research has revealed that emotional trauma can result from such common occurrences as the breakup of a significant relationship, a relationship with a pathological person or having a pathological parent, a humiliating or deeply disappointing experience, the discovery of a life-threatening illness or disabling condition, or other similar situations. Traumatizing events can take a serious emotional toll on those involved, even if the event did not cause physical damage.

Regardless of its source, an emotional trauma contains three common elements:

It is not the event that determines whether something is traumatic to someone, but the individual's experience of the event. And it is not predictable how a given person will react to a particular event. For someone who is used to being in control of emotions and events, it may be surprising – even embarrassing – to discover that something like a breakup or car accident can be so debilitating.

What causes emotional or psychological trauma?
Our brains are structured into three main parts, long observed in autopsies:
Because of the development of brain scan technology, scientists can now observe the brain in action, without waiting for an autopsy.
These scans reveal that trauma actually changes the structure and function of the brain, at the point where the frontal cortex, the emotional brain and the survival brain converge.

A significant finding is that brain scans of people with relationship or developmental problems, learning problems, and social problems related to emotional intelligence reveal similar structural and functional irregularities to those resulting from PTSD.

What is the difference between stress and emotional or psychological trauma?
One way to tell the difference between stress and emotional trauma is by looking at the outcome – how much residual effect an upsetting event is having on our lives, relationships, and overall functioning.

Traumatic distress can be distinguished from routine stress by assessing the following:

If we can communicate our distress to people who care about us and can respond adequately, and if we return to a state of equilibrium following a stressful event, we are in the realm of stress. If we become frozen in a state of active emotional intensity, we are experiencing an emotional trauma – even though sometimes we may not be consciously aware of the level of distress we are experiencing.

Why can an event cause an emotionally traumatic response in one person and not in another?
There is no clear answer to this question, but it is likely that one or more of these factors are involved:

Anyone can become traumatized. Even professionals who work with trauma, or other people close to a traumatized person, can develop symptoms of "vicarious" or "secondary" traumatization.

Developing symptoms is never a sign of weakness.


Symptoms should be taken seriously and steps should be taken to heal, just as one would take action to heal from a physical ailment. And just as with a physical condition, the amount of time or assistance needed to recover from emotional trauma will vary from one person to another.

What are the symptoms of emotional trauma?
There are common effects or conditions that may occur following a traumatic event. Sometimes these responses can be delayed, for months or even years after the event. Often, people do not even initially associate their symptoms with the precipitating trauma. The following are symptoms that may result from a more commonplace, unresolved trauma, especially if there were earlier, overwhelming life experiences:

Physical

Emotional
Cognitive
Extreme symptoms can also occur as a delayed reaction (months or years later) to the traumatic event:
Increased Arousal

What are the possible effects of emotional trauma?

Even when unrecognized, emotional trauma can create lasting difficulties in an individual's life. One way to determine whether an emotional or psychological trauma has occurred, perhaps even early in life before language or conscious awareness were in place, is to look at the kinds of recurring problems one might be experiencing. These can serve as clues to an earlier situation that caused a dysregulation in the structure or function of the brain.

Common personal and behavioral effects of emotional trauma:

Common effects of emotional trauma on interpersonal relationships:

What if symptoms don't go away, or appear at a later time?
Over time, even without professional treatment, symptoms of an emotional trauma generally subside, and normal daily functioning gradually returns. However, even after time has passed, sometimes the symptoms don't go away. Or they may appear to be gone, but surface again in another stressful situation. When a person's daily life functioning or life choices continue to be affected, a post-traumatic stress disorder may be the problem, requiring professional assistance.

How is emotional trauma treated?
Traditional approaches to treating emotional trauma include:
There are also several recent developments in the treatment to emotional trauma. Depending on the nature of the trauma and the age or state of development at which it occurred, these somatic (body) psychotherapies might even be more effective than traditional therapies. Some of the new therapies include:
ORIGINAL

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shared by Barbara at 12:08 AM


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6 Comments:

GREAT POST!!! Thanks for the insight and education.

Best,
Christine Bean
www.abusekills.com

12:09 PM  

Everyone has issues, whether it’s mental illness, addiction, or anything of the sort. I’ve found that Silver Hill, a substance abuse and psychiatric hospital, has some really good information and resources. Talking/blogging about these things can be extremely helpful not just for yourself, but for others in need. Keep up the good work.

8:59 PM  

What do you do when the abusive ex has my 8 year old daughter 8 nights a month? The abuse still occurs with trying to keep my daughter from me, he won't let her talk to me on the phone, she comes home and has stomache problems and then loses her apitite, she rips off her fingernails, parental alienation, he harasses me by asking to keep her longer every day he has her and then when I say no he gets the new girlfriend to keep asking, he takes her to New York without my knowledge or permission, threatens me so I don't file a motion of contempt, and he does not obey the court order upon many more. What would you suggest in this case?? Any help at all would be much appreciated after 10 years of this hell I'm in...thank you.

3:52 AM  

Leslie take her to a doctor asap. Document everything and you must take it back to family court.

3:51 AM  

Leslie,
Begin work with a therapist immediately. Let the therapist document this also. The therapist should work with your child to learn relaxation skills to decrease her nervous system responding. You also can work with a behavior analysist to set up a system to reward her honesty. Children are reluctant to discuss the abuses and this system along with therapy will assist your child. Also look on Dr. Mercola's website for a technique called Emotional Freedom Technique and begin to use this on yourself and teach your child to use these tools. The key is to decrease the limbic system responding so that there is less injury in her brain. Also biofeedback works very well.

8:55 AM  

Leslie I send prayers your way.

1:28 AM  

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