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A traumatic event is almost always life-altering. One moment things are going fine, and then next something happens that changes everything – a bad car accident, a natural disaster, a violent event or the unexpected death of a friend. Or maybe it’s not a sudden occurrence but an ongoing situation, such as abuse or a serious medical diagnosis.
When things like these happen, it takes time to recover. Every facet of who you are is affected, so you need time for your mind, body and emotions to be restored. For young adults, the emotions connected with trauma are especially complex because you’re in a life stage that involves so much transition. It can be difficult to deal with trauma while you’re trying to manage major life changes like starting a career, paying off student debt, living on your own and navigating romantic relationships. In fact, young adults recovering from trauma may find that things seem to be getting worse, not better.
If you’ve gone through a traumatic event, you need treatment and support to recover – know that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and with the right care, you can get back to living a fully functional and fulfilling life. Many people have had to receive support as they’ve worked through the effects of trauma and have gone on to be happy and healthy – and you can, too.
Trauma is the physical, mental and emotional response to any extremely stressful, frightening and possibly life-threatening situation in which a victim feels helpless or endangered. A traumatic situation may happen suddenly (such as a major car accident), or it can be ongoing (such as an abusive living situation). During traumatic experiences, the victim is frightened and their body and mind are under great stress. Recovery usually takes a significant amount of time, and the victim may be unable to function in daily life during that process. In many cases, victims need treatment to get back to living normally again.
What kinds of events lead to trauma? The following events frequently necessitate treatment for young adults to be able to recover:
Traumatic experiences activate your fight-or-flight response and send your body into a state known as emergency mode. Because the body thinks its survival is at stake, it goes into a condition of heightened arousal and expends extraordinary amounts of adrenaline and energy. Once the event is over, the body switches out of emergency mode and begins to recover. After a traumatic event, victims feel exhausted because their body has used up so many of its resources.
For many traumatic situations recovery takes a month or less, but for some, it can take years. No matter the duration, the effects of trauma on the body and mind are intense while they last. Victims can demonstrate any of the following symptoms:
After trauma, these behavior patterns are normal. If they become serious or prolonged, the best course of action is professional treatment.
Hazing is defined as “any activity expected of someone joining or participating in a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses, or endangers them regardless of a person’s willingness to participate.” Despite being an age-old tradition, hazing is far from normal or okay. Young adulthood is a time when social relationships are salient and people feel particularly pressured to fit in, and certain students who are members of fraternities, sororities or sports teams might feel pressured to submit themselves to such treatment. Adding to their vulnerability is the fact that many young people may have yet to develop the confidence or skills to effectively say no under peer pressure.
Hazing can include acts of abuse, violence and humiliation – all of which can cause lasting trauma. Hazing victims commonly experience effects like flashbacks, insomnia, trust issues, poor self-image, depression, anxiety, self-harming and even suicidal thoughts. The extreme sense of humiliation and loss of control that hazing victims feel leaves lasting scars. If you’ve been criminally hazed, know that you have legal rights, and you can report the activity to your school officials. Even if the hazing you endured wasn’t illegal in nature, it’s a great idea to seek support for your emotional trauma and guidance on potentially leaving the group that caused the offense.
One common result of traumatic events is a condition known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a psychiatric condition in which a victim of a traumatic situation struggles to function, displaying symptoms such as nightmares, flashbacks, hypervigilance, isolation and possibly even suicidal thoughts. PTSD is often so debilitating to victims that they’re unable to live their normal lives. Despite the severity of PTSD, it’s surprisingly common, with nearly 8 percent of Americans having PTSD at some point during their lives. If you’re struggling with PTSD, treatment is recommended.
If you’ve been through a traumatic situation, it can be hard to return to normal – you may feel like your whole world has changed. But there are some things that you can do to take care of yourself as you recover:
Oftentimes, trauma from becomes “sealed” into our brains in the period of time immediately following an event. If you’ve experienced a traumatic occurrence, here are some steps you can take to process it properly:
Don’t isolate yourself – create a supportive environment to remind yourself that you are safe.
Talk with your loved ones. This will help you process the event mentally.
Or otherwise literally shake it off. Trauma gets stored in our bodies; this will help you process the event physically.
Don't sedate yourself or otherwise prevent yourself from consciously experiencing your feelings. This will only slow your ability to process them.
If you can’t sleep, don’t lie in bed ruminating – get up and do something until you feel ready to go back to bed.
It’s likely that your fight-or-flight response will have shut down your appetite, but it’s important to nourish your body as much as you can.
Meeting your body and mind where they’re at and taking it one step at a time.
If your trauma doesn’t dissipate with time, get professional help from a trauma-informed counselor. They can help you work through your feelings and give you techniques for dealing with whatever issues arise.
Sometimes traumatic situations are simply too much to handle alone, and you may need outside help. If you need help recovering from trauma, the caring and compassionate team at Sandstone Care is here for you. We’re available every day to offer guidance and answer any questions you have. If you’re still unsure of what to do, or what your best treatment options are, give us a call at 888-850-1890.