Trauma happens because of an emotional response to a terrible event such as an accident, natural disaster, assault (physical or sexual), or being the victim of a criminal act such as a robbery or home invasion.
Often, straight after the attack, there is shock and denial. But there are also longer term consequences, including mood swings, flashbacks, difficulties in relationships and physical feelings of unwellness. Some people have a great deal of difficulty moving on from this point.
Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety, but this isn't the only sort of trauma that affects people. Any situation that leaves you feeling vulnerable, alone, powerless and overwhelmed can be traumatic. Often it isn't just the facts of the event that are traumatic, but the person's emotional response to it that leaves them traumatised. The more frightened and helpess you feel, the more likely it is that you will be traumatised.
Sometimes it isn't until later that the sense of trauma sets in. Many of those who went through the Christchurch earthquakes will know exactly what I mean.
At first, after the earthquakes, everyone was there to support each other, everyone had their story to tell, and the earthquakes didn't seem quite so bad when it was a shared experience. But then everyone had to go back to their own lives and pick up the pieces - often having lost a home, a job, or a loved one - and the reality hits home. This is when the debilitating symptoms of trauma can surface.
Or the trauma can be immediate, and caused by a single terrible event such as a car acident or violent attack. It can also be a result of an on-going situation such as serious illness, living in a bad life situation and feeling there is no escape, on-going earthquakes, or being given a diagnosis of illness or disability. Maybe you have experienced the breakup of a significant relationshp, had a humiliating experience, had the heartbreak of the death of a loved person, or an injury - all can result in trauma.
With the right treatment, learning self-help strategies and support you can recover whether you are suffering from recent trauma or something that happened a long time ago which left you with post-traumatic stress.
What do I do next if I need help with trauma?
Contact Dr. Allison Lamont for an appointment now Telephone (09) 575 5432 or
"I was so afraid after the earthquakes. I was sure I couldn't survive the terror and fear. I felt weak and unmanly. You helped me overcome the shock, and to work through the practical things that had to be done after the loss of our home."
"I'm proud of myself. I was afraid to drive after the trauma of my accident. Now I am back behind the wheel. Thank you, Allison."