The Three Outcomes of Trauma

With all that is going on these days, how is your mental health holding up?

Do you find yourself stuck in the negative?

Or, perhaps, you are feeling more positive with a sense that you are coming out the “other side” of the world’s unfortunate events with more strength and grit?

Maybe it’s a mix of both?

Coping skills, social support, various personality characteristics, and other factors all determine how one will experience the aftereffects of trauma. In my preceding post, I discussed the three outcomes that can occur when one experiences lifechanging occurrences. These are:

  1. Resiliency
  2. Posttraumatic growth (PTG)
  3. Posttraumatic depreciation (PTD)

Those with PTD are not fortunate enough to be able to use an adverse circumstance to their benefit (PTG) or even to bounce back to their set point (resilient). Some, especially those with mental illness diagnoses, can end up suffering more and note a decline in their functioning.

Yet, human beings are complex, and it is possible to experience PTG and PTD at the same time. They have been said to be different psychological processes that can occur simultaneously in different domains of life. For example, someone may find more cohesion in one social context after a tragedy while feeling more untrusting of others in another environment due to the event’s impact.

In this article, I will:

  1. Highlight the intricacy of human beings and how they respond with the desire to move forward as they carry on through trying times.

  2. Discuss the importance of taking care of emotional and mental health using integrative and traditional therapies.

  3. Shed light on the promise of faith and healing as we move back out into the world.

I think you will find this post is realistic, refreshing, and hopeful.

It may offer a new perspective and challenge your brain to look for the diamonds in the rough.

I also hope it will allow you to embrace and accept, with less judgement, that PTD is not something to be ashamed of.

It is a response that can be a signal to seek out additional support or treatment.

Let’s get started.

The Hope of a Brighter Future after Stress, Uncertainty, & Trauma

Overall, many people seem to be using the past events to learn and grow into better things; however, they are still experiencing stumbling blocks in some areas of their lives.

For many, with the opening up of society, uncertainty and fear are decreasing.

For others, it may be increasing, or they may have residual trepidation.

Recent evidence shows it be a bit of both.

In other words, PTG is co-occurring with PTD, just as the expert researchers would expect.

Now, I will highlight a few recent surveys to shed some light on how many are feeling as they navigate the world now that things seem to be somewhat turning around.

Moving On After Trauma and Fear with Strength, Priorities, & Courage

According to an article in Forbes some research is suggesting that society may be rethinking, resetting, and reimaging a more optimistic and hopeful future. Whereas we have heard of divisions occurring among loved ones, there are also strong bonds between friends and families strengthening. The article states:

Beyond just coping, we can build resilience through tough times and tap into post traumatic growth. In addition, when we go through difficult situations, we tend to strengthen our bonds with each other. This increased resilience and increased bonding certainly seem to be realities for us, based on studies by The Harris Poll which conducted 55 waves of surveys including more than 114,000 respondents, and which led another survey about priorities conducted on behalf of Waking Up.

The results found that most people who selected to partake (approximately 60%) were optimistic that the worst was behind us. This was quite an improvement over 78% believing the worst was to come earlier in the year. Furthermore, more people were placing priority and value in social connections, religious observations, and friendship than in 2020.

According to The Harris Poll, which spanned March 2020- March 2021, not everything was rosy yet. People were still coming to grips with balancing risks vs. benefits. It reported:

  • Many people were still hesitant to going back to normalcy. Most were not fully comfortable with returning back to how things were, yet the desire to seemed to outpace fear.
  • 75% of participants stated that the pandemic was a greater source of stress and 35% said they are more depressed since the start of the pandemic.
  • 31% said that their stress about their own mental health is increasing (highest among Gen Z and Millennials, both at 40%).

Yet, let’s remember within the rubble (PTD) are also some treasures (PTG).

The spin on the dreary stats is that more youngsters are embracing the importance of mental health and felt like the current world state may help to dispel stigma:

Despite the swirling of emotions, where (53%) of Gen Z are overwhelmed and (52%) are lonely, the same amount say they are grateful (53%) and our data signals they’re leading a new movement on mental health. According to our research with the United Nations Foundation Girl Up, seven in ten (70%) say “There is not enough awareness for how COVID-19 is affecting the mental health of people my age” and (75%) agree “We need new resources to address mental health issues during COVID-19 because current resourc­es are not enough.”

In the follow up survey, overall it was also displayed that there was a mix of optimism and positive and negative social impacts of the pandemic. (Note: This survey “was taken between May 18 – 20, 2021 among 2,032 adults ages 18+, among whom 979 are employed.”)

How Posttraumatic Depreciation May Spur Posttraumatic Growth

We are collectively finding the good with the bad. Perhaps one of the most concerning PTD right now is that the political and health climate is still boiling. Many are feeling divisions in some areas of social connections, even with more support in others.

I think we can all agree, though, intolerance and negative emotions toward ourselves or others is not a characteristic to spur PTG or healing. If we come to have compassion for ourselves as we strengthen our grit, we may begin to realize that we are all complex, complicated people. Yet, it is hard for brains to feel tolerant or peaceful when they are revved up and fearful.

This is why balancing brain, mental, and cognitive processing with traditional therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and integrative mental health methods, such as essential oils, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) (source, source), EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), and utilizing the power of mindset as medicine, can be of benefit for everyone. Furthermore, catching overwhelm in its tracks by using various self-care techniques is imperative during tumultuous times. This is because unrelenting stress can lead to anxiety and/or other psychiatric disorders through its consistent rewiring of brain pathways and the resulting biochemical effects.

It’s also important that if you are struggling with a mental illness and feel like you are in PTD vs. PTG or resiliency to please get the support you need. I offer supplemental emotional and mood support through consultations and also provide many resources and courses to help you navigate through the world with more ease.

Conclusion: A Little Compassion & Calm Goes a Long Way to Heal Anxiety, Stress, and Pain

Either through our own resources or with additional support, we do have the power to “feed the neural pathways” to focus on hope and acceptance of the current circumstances.

In my next post, I will highlight more on how to use essential oils to inspire hope, gratitude, and feelings of comfort. It will be a perfect resource to use as we head into the holiday season. By soothing emotions with essential oils our brain can better focus, get our tasks done, and we will likely be less reactive to the additional strains of life.

When the brain and body are in a calmer state, it is much easier to respond with the rational brain rather than react from the emotional center of our mind. If the world used more oils, perhaps we may all be kinder to each other. It’s something I thought a lot about, something I’ve witnessed with clients and my loved ones, and something I hope to share with all of you.

May you all be blessed with more calm and ease at this time.

May you also find the support you crave to overcome any PTD and move into PTG.

Many blessings.

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Disclaimer: This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)

According to experts and the World Health Organization (WHO), there is no approved standard of care treatment, cure, or preventative for COVID-19. Supportive measures and containment are in full force as a result. Please see the CDC website and your state’s website for more information and updates. They also state when to contact your physician related to symptoms and travel history, exposures. Please read my more detailed article on this subject here.

This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.

Thanks Pixabay and Canva.

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