TRAUMA- Defining and Recovering
Emotional or physical trauma is a complex condition. When we experience something as extremely threatening AND we feel helpless to stop the condition, often this can lead to us feel traumatized. It is an expected response to feeling terrorized and powerless. The more quickly we address the emotional and physical symptoms that result, the more likely we will return to normal functioning.
When our bodies or emotions are attacked, a natural series of events will happen to our brains, bodies and emotions in an attempt to deal with the threat. OUR BRAINS: Our amazing brains, when threatened, will signal the body to quickly release stress hormones (Cortisol) to regulate our blood pressure and how our body will use its storage of fat, sugar and carbohydrates for energy. OUR BODIES: Our pupils may dilate so we can see things more clearly, our heart will pump more quickly to make our fists and legs more powerful, we may feel nauseous or even lose control over our bladders or bowels so we won’t be weighed down with digestion and we can run faster. OUR EMOTIONS: We may emotionally “numb out” if the pain is too great, similar to how when we hit our thumb with a hammer, it temporarily loses sensation. We may feel overwhelmed. This complex reaction to acute stress is adaptive and useful to handle an immediate threat.
However, our systems are not equipped to withstand all this stress on a regular basis. It will take a negative toll on the body as if a vehicle were continually revving its engine; it would more quickly wear out the life of the vehicle. If we continue to have symptoms more than 4 weeks after exposure to a traumatic event, or are continually exposed to threatening traumatic events and unable to protect ourselves (when we are young or as adults), then there is a possibility we will develop a condition called Post Traumatic Stress. It is as if the brain gets stuck in that alert state (hyper-vigilant), tense, irritable state (hyper-aroused) or avoidant behaviors. Specialized photographs of the brain demonstrate that a person with Post Traumatic Stress is not just feeling more stressed, their brains have been injured, changed. This means their bodies, brains and emotions tend to continually overreact to any events whether they are low or high on the stress scale.
GOOD NEWS is that Post Trauma is a condition that we have learned to treat with evidenced based treatments. It’s important if you have been exposed to trauma that you receive an evaluation and treatment form experts in treatment of trauma. Our brains, bodies and emotions can heal from their injury, our immune system can be stored to more effectively ward off disease and physical and psychological fitness restored. Learn about the options available to you by calling Good Therapy San Diego to begin your recovery process.
~Rita Romero, Ph.D.