Millions of people have been glued to their television sets for the past two days as the Chilean miners have been plucked from their mineshaft, one at a time. The world watched as this seemingly impossible rescue occurred. There was much hope, joy and excitement for the rescue of these men. Over the next few months, it is likely most of them will exhibit at least some symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. A few are already showing signs.
The news of the trapped Chilean miners brings into focus how easy it is to have one’s world turned upside down. We are bombarded by tragic news stories of earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, violent crime, abuse, murder and much more. Most people consider those obvious examples of “trauma” and understand the people who endured them would likely experience mental after-effects. For the miners, their emotional recovery may take some time. Often people who have been through trauma feel as if their own trauma does not “measure up” to what they see in the news and does not even count as “trauma.”
You do not have to have been trapped in a mine to experience symptoms of trauma.
Those who have experienced significant trauma have the same or similar symptoms of posttraumatic stress as the trapped miners may have. Trauma victims, frequently, do not recognize that their own hurt counts too.
Perhaps you were:
  • In a car accident, and you continue to hear the sound of shattered glass and smashing metal replay in your head repeatedly.
  • The victim of a crime, and although there was no physical injury, a new overwhelming feeling of fear keeps you shut in at home.
  • Emotionally, physically or sexually abused and feel a sense of loss and shortened future.

Car accidents, crime, and abuse are all examples of trauma. While they may not seem as great in magnitude as being trapped in a mine for 69 days with the world watching, they are nevertheless valid experiences for the people who lived through them. Please know you do not have to keep feeling this way and help is available.

Some common symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder are:

  • Insomnia
  • Reliving the incident over and over either in one’s mind or as if it were happening
  • Intense fear
  • Avoidance of people, places or situations that trigger memories of the incident
  • Change in usual behavior
  • Depression
  • Feeling detachment from others
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Moments of shutting down and perhaps loosing time
  • Difficulty concentrating

What can you do- 6 Trauma Tips

  1. Allow yourself plenty of sleep (if you can) or rest.
  2. Have regular meal times. Reduce protein to carbohydrate ratio because comfort food, (foods that are high in sugar and carbohydrates), can make anxiety worse.
  3. Drink plenty of water. Remember,  you are fueling your body to feel better.
  4. Exercise is important too because you can exercise anxiety causing chemicals out of your system.
  5. Cut yourself some slack:know that post-trauma symptoms can appear suddenly and interrupt your plans.
  6. Remember to breathe.
  7. Give yourself permission that some things on your “to-do” list will have to wait.

If the symptoms do not subside, worsen, or interfere with daily life, consult a professional.

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Written by Orlando Trauma, Grief and Loss Counselor