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Yesterday’s Trauma, Today’s Stress

Sep 3, 2020

If you made a list of what causes your stress, it’s likely everything on that list would have something in common: they might all be current. When we look at what’s in our immediate environment and our present-day lives as the only source of our stress, it’s inevitable to miss exploring how the underlying stress might come from unresolved events of our distant past, especially events involving trauma. So today, let’s talk about when today’s stress can be  connected to traumatic experiences of the past and what steps a woman can take when she’s experiencing something similar.

Unlike typical daily stress caused by work, family, or personal responsibilities, stress related to trauma can have a more profoundly significant impact on a woman’s life.  A woman with unresolved trauma may turn to substance use to cope with intense feelings of sadness or hopelessness, and she may struggle with an inability to function in her daily life. Women whose undiagnosed trauma coincides with frequent drug or alcohol use are recommended to seek an evidence-based treatment program to begin working towards recovery and learning strategies to respond to trauma-related feelings in health ways.

Stress related to trauma is unlike the stress of daily life. 

Daily life, dealing with family, work, bills, and more, can cause stress and make us feel sad or hopeless at times, but stress related to trauma has a deeper impact. It can affect the ability to function, disrupting work commitments, family responsibilities, social connections, and other parts of life. Unlike a situational stress, such as getting a cable bill paid before service is terminated, stress related to trauma can last for weeks, lead to overreaction to situations, affect memory, and create other symptoms that go beyond a change of mood.

The stress caused by the pandemic can reveal past trauma.

At a time when virtually everything about your life is touched in some way by the pandemic—shopping, social gatherings, travel, school, worship time, entertainment, etcetera—a feeling of loss of control can be overwhelming for anyone, but people with traumatic experiences in their past this loss of control may become connected to larger feelings of distrust, lack of safety, and lower self-esteem. This feeling of a loss of power in situations becomes especially visible if a loved one becomes infected with the virus and visiting them in the hospital is restricted or if a loved one succumbs to coronavirus and a typical funeral arrangement is no longer possible due to social distancing requirements.

Unresolved trauma can lead to health risks, including substance use disorders.

Living unaware of how trauma is affecting you is in itself a serious risk as it can lead to a variety of self-destructive behaviors. You may notice the frequency of your use of drugs or alcohol increases to cope with the overwhelming feelings you’re experiencing or the amount of a drug or alcohol you consume increases each time you use it. The physical manifestation of stress, anxiety, or PTSD related to unresolved trauma can show up in the form of high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, obesity, among other conditions, in addition to the health risks created by using prescription pills, alcohol, marijuana, or other substances as a response to the feelings brought on by mental health issues.

Undoing the damage caused by trauma cannot be handled alone.

One sign of trauma-related stress comes when a woman dissociates as a form of mental escape from the stress. Dissociation and other severe reactions cannot be effectively managed alone or even with casual family support, even with the best of intentions. A mental health disorder, such as PTSD, requires the expertise of trained professionals to treat, particularly when a patient is also experiencing a substance use disorder, one involving benzos, opiates, for alcohol, for example.

An evidence-based treatment program designed to treat trauma is recommended.

For women with undiagnosed trauma and a substance use disorder, an evidence-based program allows them to receive dual diagnosis treatment to work on both recovery and the mental health concerns stemming from trauma. In addition to individual and group therapy, a program offering trauma therapies helps a woman learn strategies to manage her future response to feelings connected to the trauma in healthy ways as well as begin the healing process necessary after physical, sexual, or other traumatic experiences. Settings designed exclusively for women also allow patients to work on the trust and intimacy issues that were caused by the trauma while in the company of peers of the same gender and under the supervision of a multidisciplinary team of doctors, nurses, therapists, and support staff consisting of women only.

Hannah’s House is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 866-952-5532.

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