Stages of Mental Trauma

After traumatic experiences many survivors may feel depressed and angry about their loss of control and personal power.

Some common ways people cope include methods such as through religion, humor, and through positive reinterpretation of expectation. These coping methods may generally lead to gradual acceptance, of whatever the trauma may have been. This may also be seen in close relatives and possibly close friends. Trauma which can act to impact mentally include, loss of a best friend or family member, stroke, heart attack, at times even depression.

The support of friends and family plays a huge part in the natural adjustment of the individual. The survivor who cannot or will not address the facts cannot move on. Disengaging from the recovery process and pretending the trauma did not happen, does not allow improvement or acceptance.

Some survivors get stuck and are unable to move past their anger, their depression or their denial.

In other words we cannot make it go away. However persons can, “heal” from the trauma in the sense of adjusting overall expectations and possibly the views of life. Most survivors tend to experience loss, and the loss in turn at times creates intense feelings of grief.

Stage of Feelings
Stage 1 – Denial: This stage usually follows immediately after a trauma, when the family and especially the survivor cannot believe that such dramatic changes can occur so abruptly and unsuspectingly.

Stage 2 – Anger: Typically, anger sets in when the trauma victim can no longer deny that he/she has changed as a result of the experience. The survivor may become angry with himself for not being able to perform as before. Similarly family members may also do this same thing.

Stage 3 – Bargaining: The bargaining stage may be characterized by pleas to God or a Higher source for a complete recovery, or for the return of certain abilities.

Stage 4 – Depression: The moment of recognition can be quite upsetting when the survivor realizes the possibility of never fully recovering. For example – it is estimated that 30-50% of all stroke survivors experience depression.

Stage 5 – Acceptance: When a person acknowledges that things may never be the same, and when all the preceding feelings have been fully dealt with, then the survivor can come to terms with his condition.

Stage 6 – Hope: With acceptance comes the hope that although things may never be the same, life can still be fulfilling. This also includes a shift from one’s old perspective to a new one that takes into consideration one’s limitations.

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