Trauma is the psychological response to one or more harmful events that exceed the individual’s ability to cope or effectively adapt. People who experience traumatic incidents are often left with the feeling that the world is an unsafe and dangerous place. This leads to questioning their ability to do anything meaningful to control their lives, protect their wellbeing, or to insure the wellbeing of others around them. Some common reactions to trauma are anger, depression, hopelessness and feeling isolated, alone and misunderstood. They may also suffer from intrusive thoughts and flashbacks, muted emotional responses, and extreme reactions to unexpected events. It is not uncommon for the person to pull back from friends, family and previously enjoyed activities after the experience.
The good news is that there are a variety of methods to effectively deal with the aftermath of trauma through formal counseling, medication or self care. In extreme cases the individual may need hospitalization, group counseling, or out-patient services but this is not the set response for everyone who went through prolonged abuse or a tragic situation. Successful recovery lies in recognizing the relationship among the type of trauma, the timing of the intervention, and the individual’s personal resources.
The following pages provide information for mental health professionals, individuals suffering from the effects of trauma, and concerned family and friends. Use these links to deepen your knowledge and awareness of how traumatic incidents alter the lives and perceptions of the individuals experiencing them.