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"The post-traumatic syndrome is the failure of time to heal all wounds." - Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.
"Your trauma is not who you are. It is something that was done to you or happened to you." - Coral Anika Theill, Making Light of the Dark
Trauma is the experiencing of an event so extraordinary that it overwhelms a person's ability to cope. Unlike other psychological disorders, the key issue in trauma is reality. Our current perspective of reality may be skewed by the catastrophic nature of our past trauma and we may be unable to relate to ourselves or others in a confident or effective way. We may not feel safe in our relationships or in the world.
Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety, but any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and alone can be traumatic, even if it doesn't involve physical harm. It's not the objective facts that determine whether an event is traumatic, but your subjective emotional experience of the event. The more frightened and helpless you feel, the more likely you are to be traumatized.
A stressful event is most likely to be traumatic if:
• It happened unexpectedly
• You were unprepared for it
• You felt powerless to prevent it
• It happened repeatedly
• Someone was intentionally cruel
• It happened in childhood
Research shows that 76% of adults have had one or more traumatic event during their lifetime. Such traumatic incidents may include being the victim of a violent crime, sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional neglect, war, natural disasters, or car accidents.
Sometimes trauma is ongoing and repetitive. These traumatic stressors are often found in domestic violence and child abuse and include verbal abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse. For some, trauma is experienced because of neglect or deprivation of basic necessities, such as poverty or lack of human nurturance.
Trauma negatively affects the limbic system of the brain and can result in fear, anxiety, depression, insomnia, nightmares, racing heartbeat, difficulty concentrating, agitation, muscle tension, and fatigue. These symptoms can negatively impact your ability to function at work or home, create problems in your relationships, keep you disconnected from others, and leave you feeling emotionally numb.
One of the most effective tools to address and resolve trauma is EMDR, a treatment strategy endorsed by the American Psychiatric Association and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
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