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General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Reblog]Recovery from trauma is different for everybody

From the 13 May 2015 post at The Conversation

The very public trials of the Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, and the Colorado theater shooting suspect, James Holmes, put images and stories about these traumatic events once again in front of the public.

During both phases of the Boston Marathon bombing trial, testimony from survivors and first responders, as well as graphic images of the bombing, were front and center on television, the internet, and print media. And survivors of the Colorado theater shooting have vividly described in their trial testimony that night in detail and their terror and anguish seeing loved ones next to them dead or dying.

So what are the psychological and health effects of exposure to traumatic events like these?

What is trauma?

Traumatic events are those experiences that are perceived to be threats to one’s safety or stability and that cause physical, emotional and psychological stress or harm. In other words, these are events that fall outside the range of normal human experience and to which reactions vary according to the individual person.

Trauma is defined by the American Psychological Association as the psychological and emotional responses to those terrible events.

Traumatic events aren’t always violent. They can range from moving somewhere new to a mass disaster or even war.

For most people, trauma is experienced during and immediately after the event. But for many, the trauma may be relived for months or even years, as has been the case, for instance, with the aftereffects of the September 11 attacks.

New trauma can bring back old memories

In addition, people with histories of previous trauma such as combat veterans may be more vulnerable to the effects of new traumatic events.

How can people cope with trauma?

What, then, can people do to alleviate the negative aftereffects of such events in order to return to their normal daily lives? The American Psychological Association recommendsmaking connections with others, accepting change, meeting problems head on and taking care of yourself.

It’s also important to remember that one never completely forgets such events, nor do professionals suggest that is the goal of recovery. Healthy recovery involves acknowledging that the events were terrible but at the same time not allowing them to interfere with daily living. Even if, 10 years later, a sudden noise triggers momentary fear.

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May 18, 2015 - Posted by | Psychology | , , ,

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