Uncovering the Link Between Trauma and Depression
An increasing number of studies pinpoint a link between a person experiencing trauma in their lifetime and developing depression later on in life. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, trauma includes exposure to death, injury or sexual violence. It could also include episodes wherein a person has witnessed traumatic events happening to a loved one. Examples of trauma include motor accidents, acts of terrorism, childhood neglect, all forms of abuse, violence and even bullying.
Uncovering the Link
Although research indicates links between experiencing a traumatic event and depression, it is unclear as to why this might be the case. One possible reason is that witnessing trauma or having been a victim of traumatic events might change what we believe about the world and ourselves. For example, someone who was in a major accident might begin to believe that bad things always happen and that they are unable to do anything to change it. This inevitably leads to a feeling of helplessness, a key component in depressive thoughts.
There is also research to indicate that trauma suffered in one’s childhood can alter brain functioning, which in turn affects the way people process emotions like fear. This causes them to internalise these feelings and leads to depression.
Beginning the Journey to Recovery
Moving past painful memories is difficult. Psychological trauma, as discussed, can stay with you for a long time. However, you can still begin the journey to recovery. This might involve learning to trust people around you, letting go of dysfunctional ways of behaving and thinking, and addressing emotions like anger, sadness, fear and pain. It might be a difficult journey all by yourself, and research shows that speaking to a therapist can help you work through some of the emotions you might be feeling.
If you are considering speaking to a therapist about what you are feeling, here are some common trauma focussed therapeutic interventions explained below.
CBT or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: Certain negative thinking patterns may have developed as a result of witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event. These patterns may be affecting the way you feel and behave today. CBT helps in identifying, challenging and changing these patterns to help you process your feelings and thoughts.
Trauma Focussed CBT: This intervention is designed to help children and adolescents deal with traumatic memories. It involves teaching coping skills like relaxation methods and ways to dispute negative thoughts.
EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing: This intervention integrates aspects of CBT along with rapid eye movements that are said to help process traumatic memories.
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