Psychological Trauma and traumatic events
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Potentially traumatic events can be caused by a singular occasion, or from ongoing, relentless stresses. A potentially traumatic event is more prone to leave an individual with longer-lasting emotional and psychological trauma if:
- The individual was unprepared for the event
- The event occurred out of the blue
- The person felt powerless to prevent the event
- The event occurred repeatedly (such as child abuse)
- If the event involved extreme cruelty
- If the event occurred during the childhood years
Potentially traumatic events are defined as events that are both powerful and upsetting that intrude into the daily life of a man or woman. Generally speaking, potentially traumatic events involve major threat to one’s psychological and physical well-being.
Potentially traumatic events may be life-threatening; to one’s own life or the life of a loved one. These events may have very little impact on one individual but can lead to significant distress in another. The impact of a potentially traumatic event may be related to the mental and physical health of the person, past traumatic experiences, presence of coping skills, and level of social and emotional support at the time of the potentially traumatic event. Examples of events and situations that can lead to the development of psychological trauma may include:
- Natural disasters such as fires, earthquakes, tornados, and hurricanes
- Interpersonal violence like rape, child abuse, or the suicide of a loved one or friend
- Involvement in a serious car accident or workplace accident
- Acts of violence such as an armed robbery, war, or terrorism
Commonly overlooked causes of potential emotional and psychological trauma can also include:
- Breakup or divorce in a significant relationship
- Significantly humiliating experienced
- Falls or injuries due to sports
- Sudden, unexpected death of a loved one
- Diagnosis of a life-threatening or disabling condition
It’s important to note that other, less severe but ultimately stress-inducing situations can also trigger traumatic reactions in some men and women.
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