If you’ve had a history of trauma, or a history of greater stressors in your life before the coronavirus circled the globe (and honestly who hasn’t? Any serious illness or injury, the death of a loved one, a divorce, recent unemployment, increasing financial struggles, legal troubles, etc… we all have them) then medical studies have actually shown that this pandemic actually is harder on you.
So if you feel like you are struggling to deal with the stressors that this global pandemic has caused, there is good reason. It’s not you. It’s your trauma.
We’ve known for a while that a history of trauma makes subsequent traumas more likely to cause PTSD.
- A study published in 1999 showed that a history of trauma increases the risk of getting PTSD with a subsequent trauma
- and a study published in 2008 backed this up by finding that a history of trauma increases not only the risk of getting PTSD but also the risk of developing depression (Major Depressive Disorder, also known as MDD) when faced with a new trauma.
This medical study (published in June 2020) takes it one step closer: researchers looked at folks with a history of trauma and their response to a natural disaster.
The natural disaster studied was a major earthquake that struck the coast of Chile, killing over 500 people and displacing over 800,000 people. The researchers had already assessed 3,000 of residents for the history of trauma, the presence of PTSD and MDD, and had completed a questionnaire measuring how many major stressful life events a participant had endured.
Then, a year after this study was initiated, residents faced a deadly natural disaster in the form of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami. A year after this natural disaster, participants completed a post disaster assessment.
Researchers found that individuals who had 4 or more predisaster stressors had a significantly greater chanced of developing PTSD than those with no predisaster stressors.
They also found that having even one single predisaster stressor increased the chance of developing depression, and that every single additional predisaster stressor increased the odds of having a major depressive episode significantly higher.
Their conclusion was that having a history of stressors actually gives you stress sensitization, making you more vulnerable to the negative effects of a new trauma (including natural disasters, like our current pandemic) and increasing your risk of mental health issues.
This is particularly important to know in the midst of a pandemic, as it might help explain why naturally you may be feeling more overwhelm in the face of this global crisis than some of your other friends or family members who don’t have a history of stressors or trauma.
While it might make you feel better to know that your history of having major life stressors and traumas makes it completely natural and expected for this pandemic to be hitting you in a deeper way than it is hitting others, you deserve some good news.
Is there good news with trauma?
The largest meta-analysis to date on trauma recovery (looking at data from over 11,000 relevant medical studies) suggests that the best long term recovery after trauma is simply talking about it, no medication required.
Published in JAMA Psychiatry on June 12, 2019, reasearchers looked at direct comparisons between talk therapy (psychotherapy) and drug therapy (pharmacological treatments) in patients with PTSD.
- They found that in the long term, talk therapy helped more, being slightly superior to drug therapy both immediately following treatment and in long term follow up.
- The studies they looked at ranged from 2 months to 6 months long, and this meta-analysis showed there was no advantage to using drugs in recovering from PTSD.
- This means that drugs are now no longer recommended for first line treatment of trauma, as there is no indication that they are beneficial.
While I am certainly not against the use of medications when they are needed, they should be used sparingly and either short term (as they do not show any long term advantage) or only for patients who don’t find improvement after talk therapy alone.
Be encouraged by this.
This means that the vast majority of folks can be helped — and helped best — by talking about trauma instead of medicating it away.
Connect with others.
Reach out for help.
Don’t feel like you are going crazy and don’t feel like you must go it alone.
We all have trauma, we all do. But if your history of trauma is making this pandemic harder on you than on others, you can absolutely get through it.
There is long term benefit from connecting to others and speaking about it. Treatment is not relegated to a psychiatrist’s office nor does it need to be prescribed away.
In fact, as I blogged about here, PTSD can actually be significantly helped by something as simple and as accessible as repeating a mantra.
Here is that blog post and several other blog posts I’ve written on trauma recovery for you.
Please read any you are drawn to, for instant support:
- 2 New Treatments For PTSD You Can Use Right Now To Feel Immediately Better
- How Grounding Releases Trauma From Your Body To Protect Your Long Term Health
- Trauma Changes The Health Of Your Body, But It’s Reversible
- Trauma Increases Headache Risk 4-Fold
- Childhood Trauma Increases Risk Of Self Harm. Here’s Help.
- OCD May Stem From Birth Trauma
- Going From Surviving To Thriving After Cancer
- Your 2022 Healing Mantra — Say It With Me
- Is Your Job Driving You Crazy? You Are Not Alone. Here’s Help.
- Resolving PTSD, OCD, Tobacco and Drug Addiction Too
- Emotional Stress Directly Predicts Heart Attack… 10 Ways To Prevent It
- Letting Go Helps You Heal (Here’s How)
- Is Stress Is Making Your Antidepressant Ineffective?
- The Healing Power Of Grounded Touch
- A Super Interesting Difference Between Men and Women When Under Stress
- Another Difference Between Men and Women… Found On Autopsy
- The Healing Process Of Grief
Want more advice on how to naturally heal from stress and trauma?
The medical literature is clear… just communicating about trauma is every bit as healing (or even more healing) than all the best medications we have to treat trauma.
So simply joining a class, talking to a therapist, or connecting with others to heal can be just what you need to feel better than you have ever felt.
And here’s the best part…. those who move through trauma can actually be healthier than those who never went through any trauma at all.
It’s incredible to believe that trauma can actually strengthen your health but it is true.
In my Trauma Resilency & Recovery Class I go over the medical literature that proves that trauma can actually be adaptive and empowering, and I show you all the tools to use trauma to boost your own health in ways you never could have imagined possible.
I developed this class based on my extensive research into the best of what the medical literature has proven to us about how to release trauma once and for all and become healthier for it.
No matter what you have gone through, you absolutely do have the ability to rebound from from it and create a new normal and a new health set point.
Your body naturally want’s to trend back to full and complete wellness… mind, body and spirit.
I’ll give you the tools to get there and walk with you through it. Class emails come directly into your inbox so that you can start healing, right from the safety and comfort of your own home.
It starts on Valentine’s Day, because this is one gift your can give yourself: to heal your heart. Join in by clicking right here today.
And check in with others that you love that you know face significant stressors and might benefit from taking this trauma healing class right alongside you.
This is the last week to sign up.
Moving onwards and upwards…