It could be a rape or bullying or poverty or neglect or a hurricane or mass tragedy. Whatever the cause, a traumatic event has a devastating impact on physical, emotional and mental well-being. Communities can be traumatized as well.
This May, as part of the annual Mental Health Month activities sponsored by Mental Health America (http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/may), Agnesian HealthCare’s Work and Wellness Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is raising awareness of trauma, the human and social costs, and how therapeutic techniques based in neuroscience can mitigate these effects and create dramatic changes in people’s lives.
Most people think that trauma refers to physical trauma that occurs as a result of a car accident or assault. But it’s much more than that. Trauma includes interpersonal violence such as abuse and bullying; social violence such as war and terrorism; natural disasters and accidents; serving in combat; stressors such as poverty and humiliation; and childhood trauma, which includes physical, emotional and sexual abuse and difficult family relationships.
Trauma takes a huge toll on lives and health. Trauma is the leading cause of the death of children in this country. The effect of trauma on productive life years lost exceeds that of any other disease. The economic cost of 50 million injuries in the year 2000 alone was $406 billion. This includes estimates of $80 billion in medical care costs and $326 billion in productivity losses. The predicted cost to the healthcare system from interpersonal violence and abuse ranges between $333 billion and $750 billion annually, or nearly 17 to 37.5 percent of total healthcare expenditures.
As a society, we are just beginning to deal with trauma – bringing it out of the shadows, finding new ways of healing its wounds, and casting out the shame that prevents trauma survivors from seeking help. When children or adults respond to traumas with fear, horror and/or helplessness, the extreme stress is toxic to their brains and bodies, and overwhelms their ability to cope. While many people who experience a traumatic event are able to move on with their lives without lasting negative effects, others may have more difficulty managing their responses to trauma.
Unresolved trauma can manifest in many ways, including anxiety disorders, panic attacks, intrusive memories (flashbacks),obsessive compulsive behaviors, post-traumatic stress disorder, addictions, self-injury and a variety of physical symptoms. Trauma increases health risk behaviors such as overeating, smoking, drinking and risky sex. Trauma survivors can become perpetrators themselves. Unaddressed trauma can significantly increase the risk of mental and substance use disorders, suicide, chronic physical ailments, as well as premature death.
It is important to understand the role that trauma has played in your life and how to begin to heal. To find out more information about trauma and receiving help, contact us at (800) 458-8183.
Assistance Program (EAP) at (800) 458-8183.