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What Are the Stages of Recovery From Trauma?

a person sits on the floor with their face in their knees

Trauma is unfortunately common in our lives. Even worse, we tend to experience trauma at a young age. More than two-thirds of young people will experience a traumatic event by the age of 16. But no matter what age you experience trauma, moving past the event is difficult for everyone.

The best way to approach recovery from trauma is to go through the correct stages. Like the stages of grief, going through the stages of trauma will prevent the lingering effects of the event and will ensure you live a normal life. Here’s a breakdown of the stages of trauma.

What Is Trauma?

Trauma is any event that you consider abnormal. The effects of the event are usually so overwhelming that you’re unable to cope. Some of the effects you may experience include confusion, shock, and brain fog. In severe cases, you may feel intense anxiety. Some people may even forget the event and are unsure if it even happened.

Common examples of traumatic events include sexual assault, an accident (such as a car accident), abuse, natural disasters, and combat in war.

Keep in mind that these events aren’t the only ones that lead to trauma. For example, chronic illness can trigger mental health issues, especially if you suffered illness at a young age. You can also experience these effects if you witnessed a traumatic event.

Symptoms That Your Trauma Is Affecting Your Daily Life

Everyone handles trauma differently. However, it’s still essential that you know if your trauma is affecting your daily life. Some symptoms to look for include:

  • Re-experiencing the event
  • Negative thoughts or feeling
  • Avoiding anything that can remind you of the trauma (seeing certain people, going to certain places, etc.)
  • Experiencing any symptoms of other mental illnesses (anxiety disorders, depression, ADD/ADHD, etc.)

Sometimes, the symptoms of trauma aren’t as common. You may disconnect from loved ones or won’t be as active in your community. There may be a change in the way you view yourself and even some of your past beliefs (such as religion). You may feel unsafe in the world and can develop trust issues.

Why Should You Go Through the Stages of Trauma Recovery?

It’s normal to feel negative emotions after a traumatic event. However, these emotions can linger if you don’t process the event in a healthy way. It can take years to recover from the event and it can interfere with your everyday life. This pertains to surviving an event and also witnessing one.

If you don’t go through the stages of trauma recovery, you may also develop some toxic habits. For example, there’s a connection between trauma and addiction. The severity increases when you endured the traumatic event at a young age and/or if the event included any type of abuse.

Like the stages of grief, going through the stages of trauma recovery will ensure you can return to your normal life with a healthier outlook.

Three Stages of Recovery From Trauma

Moving past a traumatic event is a complex process and can be emotionally difficult for many. Going through the correct stages can stabilize the mind.

Here’s a closer look at the stages of a traumatic event. For best results, you can seek help from a mental health professional. During the treatment, you may experience flashbacks, anxiety, panic, and nightmares. Your mental health professional can help you cope.

Stage 1: Safety and Stability

After a traumatic event, it’s integral you reach a place of safety and stability. Your mental health professional may recommend staying with a family member or friend during this time. That way, you have someone to support you and you’ll feel safe in their presence.

If your emotional state is very unstable, your mental health professional may recommend or prescribe medication. They will only do this if they feel it’s absolutely necessary. However, if you have a history of abusing substances, your mental health professional will refrain from prescribing medication. Instead, they will focus on teaching coping behaviors and how to stabilize the mind.

Other mental health services you may use include learning how to regulate your feelings, controlling overwhelming emotions, and better managing any fears you have. 

This can include identifying key components of the event (such as the things, places, environment, and people) that may trigger you. You’ll better understand those triggers so you no longer see them as dangerous.

Stage 2: Remembering and Grieving

Once your mental health professional is certain you reached stability and safety, it’s time to process the event. They will help you explore the event and how to integrate those past experiences into your everyday life. You won’t re-live the event; rather, you will remember the event while in a safe environment.

Some people also call this the grieving stage. You may have lost vital aspects of your life before the event. Depending on your situation, you may have abused substances as a way to cope with your trauma. Some people grieve the life they lost during this time.

Feelings of grief during this stage are completely normal. Just understand that you can still recover and create a new, better life after trauma treatment.

Stage 3: Reconnection and Restoring Relationships

This final step has a couple of different names, depending on your unique experience.

For many, the event skewed their sense of self. If that sounds like you, then this phase is called reconnection. You’ll learn to not define yourself by the trauma and overcome your experiences. Moving forward will lead to you living a fulfilling life. You’ll walk away feeling empowered and refreshed.

In other cases, you may struggle to connect to others or even loved ones. Your mental health professional can help you reconnect to loved ones. If you find yourself in a bubble, they may recommend participating in the community to develop healthy relationships with others.

Recovery From Trauma Is Possible

Recovery from trauma is an essential part of healing. But it’s best you seek guidance from a mental health professional. Apex Recovery offers multiple mental health treatment programs. If you suffered an addiction after a traumatic event, we also offer drug and alcohol rehab.

We operate in multiple states, such as California, Tennessee, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Contact us to get the help you deserve.

Call Our Toll-Free Hotline 24/7 at 877.881.2689