Vicarious Trauma

Many things that happen in this world affect you. It may not relate you but still such things may affect you. You will be surprised to know that everything that happens during a day has a direct effect on how you think and feel, and this may influence your thoughts and sometimes your actions. This is called as vicarious trauma also known as secondary trauma. This occurs when you see or hear of an incident happened to someone else and the effects can be as damaging. Many a times you may hear some painful incident happened to some one else and you may not be able to sleep through out the night. You may get dizziness by looking at some one’s dead body or any blood like situation. You may also upset yourself by merely hearing some very painful incident.

Vicarious trauma can be caused by a large variety of happenings and here are some examples: graphic scenes on news, natural disasters like earthquake, hurricane, tsunami, violence and/or horror movies with graphic scenes, a neighbor’s injury or death and the plight of some countries whose people die of hunger. You may feel frustrated or upset. You may notice that you start suffering from insomnia and simply lose yourself. You may lose control over your feelings and may feel helpless. These disasters may be cause of vicarious trauma.

There are several symptoms of vicarious trauma. When experiencing vicarious trauma, you will have the following symptoms: anxiety and helplessness that you cannot do anything to change or improve the situation, anger, low self-esteem, fatigue and emotional exhaustion, change in sleeping pattern, change in eating patterns, nausea, headache and vomiting. You may suddenly start suffering from insomnia and get changes in food pattern.

Now the problem is that whether this situation is treatable. It is important you realize that you are being affected by these events and then only you will accept the fact that you are suffering from vicarious trauma; many people don’t live in denial that they are able to have a trauma from something that has happened to someone else and then a treatment would be impossible and therefore the possibility of a cure inexistent. Cure is necessary. You must see a psychologist and find out a way. It is important or situation may get worse.

Secondary trauma left untreated can develop in serious disorders such as depression and even the trouble of focusing on anything for long period of time, which will in turn affect your work, relationship, family and friends. Treatment of vicarious trauma includes therapy and some light drugs that will boost your immune system and provide you with energy and positive thinking to snap out of your state of mind. It is also necessary to get into meditation and yoga. You must not ignore the symptoms of vicarious trauma. You must talk frankly in this matter with family and friends. Talking about the way you feel with a family member or friends can be of great help too and in fact can treat your trauma leaving you feeling yourself again. The most important step is to accept the fact that you are being affected and that something must be done about it as soon as possible.

How can you avoid vicarious trauma like situation? You must avoid some situations that cause you trauma. If you are sensitive and you know what affects you try and keep away from them as much as possible, such as, if you know that violent or horror movies leave you feeling restless then don’t watch them and if on the news they warn that there will be graphic scenes then move away for or turn off the television for that period of time.

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