How to Cope with Trauma

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Update Date 07/10/2020 . 5 mins read
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Individuals who suffer from traumatic experiences have different ways in coping with trauma triggers. Distressing experiences give off an exponential amount of stress and negative emotions to the overall well-being of a person. But, there are various ways that might help an individual in overcoming trauma.

What is trauma?

Trauma is a psychological response to an overwhelmingly distressing or unsettling event. Panic and anxiety attacks are the most common emotional responses released by individuals who suffer from various types of trauma.

A person suffers from trauma if he/she feels violated, vulnerable, and has lost his/her sense of security.

Types of Trauma

The three main types of trauma are:

Acute trauma

This is a result of a single traumatic occurrence, such as being involved in an accident or being a victim of a crime or natural disaster. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is commonly associated with acute trauma.

PTSD Symptoms and Triggers – What You Need to Know

Chronic trauma

This transpires when a person has experienced repetitive and prolonged traumas. The events that trigger chronic trauma includes domestic violence, bullying, war, or an accumulation of different acute traumas.

Complex trauma

This is the outcome of multiple exposures to traumatic events, whether it is personally experienced or witnessed. Childhood trauma is the most common example of complex trauma.

Signs and Symptoms of Trauma

There are a lot of different responses to trauma depending on the gravity of the incident. Here are some of them:

Physical Responses

  • Shows physical symptoms, such as frequent headaches, palpitations, and fatigue.
  • Experiences trouble sleeping, nightmares and night terrors frequently.

Emotional Responses

  • Feels anxious and scared for oneself as well as for family and friends’ safety.
  • Feels indifferent in doing customary activities, such as eating, working, studying, exercising, and even engaging in intimacy.
  • Experiences strong emotions all the time, such as sadness, anger, grief, disgust, and fear.
  • Experiencing guilt and blaming oneself for everything that happened.

Behavioral Responses

  • Avoids any circumstances that bring back the memories of traumatizing events.
  • Aloofness to friends and family.
  • Acts reserved, preoccupied, and frequently overthinks.
  • Startles easily to sudden actions and loud noises.

Cognitive Responses

  • Fears being alone and worries that the same traumatizing situation will happen to oneself and loved ones.

Coping with Trauma Triggers

Coping with trauma triggers might not only be challenging to the traumatized individuals but also the people around them. Here are some tips that might be helpful to cope with trauma.

Do not be afraid to seek help

Your family and friends are the first people you can talk to after a traumatic event. Seeking help from others does not mean weakness. Asking for help and support shows your strength instead. Share your thoughts and feelings to people you trust and care about. Doing this releases all the negative emotions you’re keeping to yourself.

Take your time

Trauma will not go away in a snap. Neither is recovery linear, progressing from step A to step B and so on. It will take time and hard work to deal with your trauma. Allow yourself to slowly recuperate and do not force yourself to open up and talk about what has happened. Giving yourself time to heal physically and mentally will exponentially help you to quickly recover from trauma.

Limit the use of any media platforms

Excessive use of media platforms while currently experiencing trauma might worsen your condition. You cannot control the news, articles, and social media posts you might encounter. Some media contents might trigger flashbacks and can set off trauma reactions.

As much as possible, avoid watching videos about disasters, crime, and other trauma triggering visual contents. These types of contents might bring back memories of your previous experience/s. Avoid using any social media platforms, until you get better since frequent use of these platforms might make you more anxious, stressed, and depressed.

Likewise, avoid excessive use of alcohol, cigarettes, and unprescribed medicine in coping with trauma.

Do not force yourself to be sociable

After trauma, there are moments that you would want to be alone, and that is fine. There are also moments where you only want to be with people who are closest to you, and that’s normal. You don’t need to force yourself to go out and meet with friends when you’re not ready yet.

In coping with trauma triggers, try spending more time with yourself, and with people who are dear to you. Doing this will help you to slowly get back in socializing with other people again.

Do ‘normal’ activities

Engage in activities such as exercising, playing video games, or listening and playing music. These can help you relax and clear your mind from all worries and exhaustion. You don’t need to do all these activities in a day. Take your time to slowly get used to doing your usual routine one at a time.

Recognize emotions associated with trauma

It’s important to recognize that your behavioral and emotional responses are normal reactions to extreme situations of stress and adversity. Accepting this and facing your trauma can be instrumental to getting on the road to recovery.

As much as possible, don’t run away from emotions associated with trauma. At the end of the day, you are the one who’s going to really help yourself get through this damaging situation.

Ask help from professionals or support groups

Trauma can trigger a lot of strong emotions that you can’t handle alone. Seeking professional help is the best option in dealing with this situation. Medical and mental professionals can help you recover faster through a range of therapies and medications.

Join support groups where you can find people with the same experiences as you. This will greatly help you realize that you are not alone. You will see a lot of people trying to get better just like you and be motivated to be better as well.

Understanding Mental Illness Stigma in the Philippines

Mental health support groups in the Philippines

The following are groups and pages in the Philippines that supports mental health.

  1. Anxiety and Depression Support Philippines
  2. No to Mental Health Stigma PH
  3. Buhay Movement
  4. Mental Health and Psychosocial Support, Philippines
  5. Philippine Mental Health Association, Inc.
  6. PRISM
  7. Talang Dalisay
  8. Silakbo

For 24/7 mental health assistance, you can also call the National Mental Health Crisis Hotline at 0917 899 8727 (USAP) and 989 8727 (USAP).

Key takeaways

Trauma responses are multidimensional — they may take the form of physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioral reactions. 

Coping with trauma triggers is not easy, and it will take time and a lot of patience. 

Trauma recovery is a process and a personal journey. It is not linear. Recovery needs to be strengths-based, as well as group- and community-based. In this regard, the support from family, friends, and professionals is essential for an individual to free oneself from the shackles of trauma.

After recovery, do not hesitate to give help to people who currently suffer from trauma. Your support will give assurance that they are not alone, and that recovery is possible.

Learn more about mental health, here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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