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TRA NGUYEN

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10.05.2020 - Emotional & Psychological Trauma

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On part of "The Kiss" - Gustav Klimt, 1907-8, oil and gold leaf on canvas.

What is emotional & psychological trauma?

Psychological, or emotional trauma, is damage or injury to the psyche after living through an extremely frightening or distressing event and may result in challenges in functioning or coping normally after the event. While each person who experiences a traumatic event will react differently, many do recover well with a proper support system and do not experience long-term problems. Some people, however, after experiencing a traumatic event will go on to develop challenges directly following the event, eventually leading to serious, long-term negative consequences.

While traumatic experiences frequently involve life-threatening events, any situation that leaves one feeling alone and completely overwhelmed can be traumatic – even without physical harm. It’s important to remember that it’s not the objective facts of the event alone that determine how traumatic an event is; it’s also the subjective emotional experience of the event. Often, the more terror and helplessness one feels, the more likely it is that an individual will be traumatized.

What are the signs and symptoms of emotional & psychological trauma?

Many people experience strong physical or emotional reactions immediately following the experience of a traumatic event. Most people will notice that their feelings dissipate over the course of a few days or weeks. However, for some individuals, the symptoms of psychological trauma may be increasingly severe and last longer. This may be the result of the nature of the traumatic event, availability of emotional support, past and present life stressors, personality types, and available coping mechanisms. Some of the most common symptoms of psychological trauma may include the following:

Cognitive:
Intrusive thoughts of the event that may occur out of the blue
Nightmares
Visual images of the event
Loss of memory and concentration abilities
Disorientation
Confusion
Mood swings

Behavioral:
Avoidance of activities or places that trigger memories of the event
Social isolation and withdrawal
Lack of interest in previously-enjoyable activities

Physical:
Easily startled
Tremendous fatigue and exhaustion
Tachycardia
Edginess
Insomnia
Chronic muscle patterns
Sexual dysfunction
Changes in sleeping and eating patterns
Vague complaints of aches and pains throughout the body
Extreme alertness; always on the lookout for warnings of potential danger

Psychological:
Overwhelming fear
Obsessive and compulsive behaviors
Detachment from other people and emotions
Emotional numbing
Depression
Guilt – especially if one lived while others perished
Shame
Emotional shock
Disbelief
Irritability
Anger
Anxiety
Panic attacks

- Information from Cascade Behavioral Health Center, Tukwila, Washington, USA.-

This information does not change reality, but at least it might tell us about the potential effects and signs of emotional and psychological traumas.

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