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An uncontested divorce can cause a variety of emotional reactions. A serious response to the emotional turmoil is psychological trauma. A person who experiences trauma often has had his or her sense of security and well-being destroyed.

Trauma is not limited to physical harm, but also includes any situation where a person has felt vulnerable and helpless. Unfortunately, trauma can be the root of a whole host of other personal issues. Some of these issues include: eating disorders, depression, chronic health conditions, substance abuse and HIV/AIDS.

Some of the key indicators for potential trauma are:

  1. An event happened unexpectedly;
  2. An event happened repeatedly;
  3. The person was not prepared for the event;
  4. The act was intentionally cruel; and/or
  5. The person felt powerless to prevent the traumatic event.

Emotional trauma can occur from a single event, such as the unexpected announcement of an uncontested divorce, or an on-going stress (i.e., martial distress). A reaction to a traumatic event is someone trying to process an abnormal event through having a normal response. The effects of trauma are serious and can even be deadly.

Interventions which have proven to be successful for trauma survivors include:

  1. Family, friends or local agencies working together to empower the survivor;
  2. Survivor feeling respected, connected and hopeful about his or her future;
  3. Joining a trauma support group;
  4. Volunteering;
  5. Participating in social activities, even if the person doesn't feel like it;
  6. Balanced diet;
  7. Getting plenty of sleep;
  8. Exercise;
  9. Using relaxation techniques; and
  10. Avoiding substances such as drugs and alcohol.

Here are some red flags which indicate a person should seek professional help:

  1. Experiencing severe anxiety, depression or fear;
  2. Disconnected from others;
  3. Emotionally numb;
  4. Memory lapse;
  5. Decreased ability to concentrate;
  6. Difficulty functioning in the workplace or at home;
  7. Hostility;
  8. Feelings of despair or hopelessness;
  9. Hyper-vigilance or jumpiness;
  10. Abusing substances; and/or
  11. Progressively avoiding more and more reminders of the traumatic incidents(s),

Each individual reacts uniquely to stress and daily challenges. Sometimes an individual will have a negative experience from his or her past and a current event can trigger a prior trauma. Emotional trauma should never be viewed as a sign of weakness and should be taken seriously.

Although our society has a tendency to overuse the word trauma, a person who is traumatized is severely overwhelmed. If you or a loved one is suffering from psychological trauma please seek the assistance of a mental health professional. Be sure to seek a person who has specialized in trauma.

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