Emotional Effects of Traumatic Events

Many people experience traumatic events or emotional shocks that can have lasting effects. While some manage to overcome these difficult situations and continue a normal life, there are a large number of individuals who cannot overcome these traumatic situations without support and may develop what is known in the mental health field as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

PTSD, or Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, is a disease that can occur soon after a major trauma or in some cases more than 6 months after the event. When it occurs soon after the trauma, it usually improves after three months, but some people experience a more prolonged illness which can last for many years. When symptoms occur immediately after the trauma but do not last for more than 30 days, the person may be experiencing an acute stress disorder. PTSD occurs at any age and creates pain and suffering that can cause devastating consequences.

We all know very well the power of destruction caused by natural disasters such as hurricanes or earthquakes. The physical effects of a disaster are obvious. Hundreds or thousands of people may lose their lives or be seriously injured, and the consequences can affect survivors throughout their lives.

According to reports from medical authorities that are monitoring the mood of the people who experienced the recent tsunami in Japan, many are showing signs of PTSD. The possibility exists that many of them require treatment to reduce symptoms of this disease. Many of the soldiers that are coming back from combat are also showing signs and symptoms of PTSD. In addition, many victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse also show symptoms of this disease.

People with PTSD re-experience the traumatic event again and again in at least one of several ways. They may have nightmares and frightening memories of the event or feel as if they are going through the experience again.

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), several signs and symptoms a person with PTSD may have include:

1. Repeated “reliving” of the event, which disturbs daily activities
• Flashback episodes, where the event seems to be happening again and again
• Recurrent distressing memories of the situation
• Repeated dreams of the situation
• Physical reactions to situations that remind them of the traumatic event

2. Evasion
• Feelings of detachment
• Inability to recall important aspects of trauma
• Lack of interest in normal activities
• Restricted expression of moods
• Isolation from people, places, or objects that remind the person of the event
• Feeling uncertain about the future

3. Excitation
• Difficulty concentrating
• Exaggerated response to stimuli that startle
• Irritability or outbursts of anger
• Difficulty sleeping

If you think you are experiencing some of these symptoms and signs, please seek professional help. This can be your best option for experiencing recovery and regaining joy and peace.

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