Before we talk about trauma and its long-term effects, we must understand that traumatic events affect people differently. What might seem like a minor event to one person, maybe a life-altering situation for others. How trauma affects a person depends on the individual’s circumstances and their personality. These traumatic events could range from experiencing domestic, physical, or sexual violence, witnessing a natural disaster, going through a chronic illness, watching a loved one suffer from a debilitating disease, or witnessing the death of a loved one.
Here we have listed down some of the long-term effects of trauma for you to identify if you or someone you know are suffering. And the right measures that can be taken to help them.
As a result of trauma, a person may start to stay away from people. They may want to stop socializing, find peace in seclusion and develop strained personal relationships. They may experience bursts of anger or be in a labile emotional state where even the most seemingly insignificant event may lead to an emotional outburst.
To deal with the impact of the trauma, some people may turn to substances, such as drugs or alcohol. If unchecked, this can lead to substance abuse disorders. This could be because once people are subject to any trauma, they become more susceptible to these substances, or it could be a way to cope with shame, guilt, or helplessness.
Talking to a loved one and therapy is sometimes not enough to deal with a trauma-affected person with substance abuse disorder. Joining a rehab facility such as Serenity at Summit can help deal with such issues and provide an encouraging community to cope with it.
Someone who has gone through a traumatic event may develop crippling anxiety. Such people may be in a constant state of “fight or flight” response. Being constantly on edge can severely damage a person’s mental health. Talking to a health professional can help one deal with anxiety symptoms.
A decline in Cognitive Function:
When a person goes through a certain traumatic event, their brain is high-jacked by the emotional effects of the trauma. This can lead to a slow decline in cognitive function. In an extreme situation, a person may be unable to focus in school or at the workplace. One may also lose the ability to concentrate on important tasks for a long time.
People who have experienced abuse or other form of trauma may develop some sort of emotional response. This could include extreme sadness or crying, fear, emotional numbness, and recurring flashbacks of the particular event leading to depression. After facing a life-changing event, such feelings are normal. If they persist and start interfering with your daily life, you should seek professional help and find someone to talk to.
A person may develop dissociative amnesia when they face a traumatic situation. Dissociative amnesia is when a person blocks out certain events related to stress or trauma. They may even forget some important personal information as a result of this. However, dissociative amnesia is not very common, and its incidence is only 1% in men and 2.6% in women.
Research has shown that children who face a certain kind of emotional event in their childhood are much more likely than the average person to develop conditions like hypertension. It could include traumatic events like living in a dysfunctional household, bullying, parental neglect, or emotional or sexual abuse.
Experiencing any type of trauma can not only cause emotional distress but can also cause great damage to your physical health. Research has shown that exposure to psychological trauma leads to an increased risk of recurrent cardiovascular events and mortality, independent of psychiatric comorbidities and habits.
Another one of the effects of a traumatic event is insomnia. The inability to sleep as a result of trauma is pretty common. Lack of sleep is not only bad for your mental health; it is also harmful to the body to not get enough rest. It results in decline of cognitive function, decrease in the production of growth hormones, and the slow recovery of the body. In the extreme case of post-trauma insomnia, the individual suffering has t get proper help to recover.
There’s nothing one can do about being put in difficult situations. Nor is it in one’s control how their mind and body react to different events. Dealing with the long-term effects of trauma can be quite difficult and draining for the individual and their loved ones.
Talking to the people around you, having a support group, and seeking therapy are all very effective ways to deal with the emotional impact a traumatic event from your past may have had on you. Try to avoid catastrophizing about the future and stay rooted in the moment. Only you know that you’re struggling; try to reach out and ask for help.
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