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Anxiety & Stress Critical Incidents First Responders Uncategorized

Fight-or-Flight: How to Spot Familiar Trauma Responses

Fight-or-Flight: How to Spot Familiar Trauma Responses.

Most people have heard of the “fight-or-flight” response when it comes to traumatic or frightening situations. Either you stand up and confront your fear, or you run away from it.

While these are two of the most common trauma responses, they aren’t the only ones. (*even beyond “freeze” and “faun” too)

Additionally, trauma responses can happen years after the actual trauma occurs. Someone who experienced a traumatic situation may still have the same reactions when triggered in a specific way.

How can you spot some familiar trauma responses? What should you do about it if you regularly experience them?

Recognizing the Signs

Other common responses to trauma include everything from avoidance to vigilance. Because these are such varied responses, it’s only natural to expect different behaviors and reactions to each one.

Understanding some of the most common signs can make it easier to recognize trauma in yourself or others.. That said, some of the most common responses include:

  • Shock or disbelief
  • Confusion
  • Anger
  • Withdrawl
  • Guilt

One could argue that all of these behaviors fall within the fight-or-flight category, though some are more extreme than others.

For example, if your response to trauma is guilt, you might “run away” or avoid reality to escape that guilt. If your response is anger, you may be more inclined to fight. Unfortunately, that may lead to reckless behaviors and unhealthy ways of coping.

It’s not always easy to spot these familiar signs in yourself. That’s especially true if you’ve been dealing with them for a long time, caused by something like childhood trauma. Understanding the various ways you might feel impacted can help you realize that you might need help working through those experiences.

Trauma Responses Aren’t Always What They Seem

It’s crucial to note that trauma responses are often misdiagnosed. That’s because they might “show up” as another type of mental health condition. Most commonly, they cause anxiety.

Someone who has experienced trauma in their life might struggle with symptoms of anxiety. That includes everything from fear and helplessness to physical signs like rapid breathing.

As a result, it’s critical to get to the underlying root of every mental health condition, especially anxiety and depression. Working through your responses will help with feelings of anxiety. It can also help you manage your symptoms even when you experience a triggering situation.

Why Are Trauma Responses So Important?

Why is it essential to spot familiar trauma responses? Because people respond to trauma in different ways. The more you understand about those various types of responses the easier it can be to recognize them sooner.

Issues like anxiety don’t often go away on their own. And, if you keep ignoring your trauma responses, likely, they won’t go away on their own either. Maybe you’ve been ignoring them without even realizing it. Whatever the case, if you’re dealing with any of these common responses, you’re not alone. Help is available.

If you experience any of the responses listed here or you feel like something is “off,” you could be dealing with the effects of trauma. Thankfully, you don’t have to go through those feelings forever.

Feel free to contact me to learn more about familiar trauma responses or to set up an appointment. Together, we can uncover your responses and what you can do to work through your trauma. That starts with identifying it and figuring out effective ways to manage your symptoms while bringing you into the present and looking toward the future.

Your trauma doesn’t define who you are, and acknowledging your experience(s) can help you realize that. Please reach out today or visit my page about law enforcement and stress to learn more about how I can help.

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First Responders

Law Enforcement and Stress

Law Enforcement and Stress

Law enforcement and stress seem to be a forgone conclusion for many people – often writing it off as a normal part of the job. But for many peace officers, fire and rescue and other first responders the events they deal with on a regular basis are anything but normal. Some events are outright traumatic and often, they experience many of these over the course of their service.

“Trauma” refers to the body or mind being overwhelmed by traumatic events. Psychological trauma in particular occurs as a result of a distressing event that leads the sufferer to question their beliefs while destroying their assumptions of trust. If you have experienced a traumatic event, you may feel socially disconnected and somewhat numb, leading to feelings of isolation. On top of this, you may find yourself feeling more afraid and vulnerable than before the event.

Law enforcement has been universally recognized as a stressful profession. Police officers often observe, deal with, or become involved in extremely difficult situations and experiences on a daily basis. A line-of-duty death (LODD) strikingly brings home the risk and vulnerability of all law enforcement officers and affects the officer’s peers, the entire department, the wider police community, and the officer’s family.

Cumulative Stress

These events are inherent to the law enforcement profession and accumulate over time, often producing a cumulative stress that is immeasurable. Men and women who choose law enforcement as a profession are told to prepare to deal with the cumulative stress of the job. When it comes to law enforcement and stress, there is however another form of stress that many officers will face but are unprepared to deal with. This stress is more immediate and intense and is often the result of a singular traumatic event. It can be unsettling to learn just how severely a single event can change a person’s outlook and approach to both his profession and his daily life.

Sense of Invulnerability

The sense of invulnerability is perpetuated in the field training an officer receives once he/she begins working in his/her respective department. New recruits learn from senior officers that police work requires the inhibition of affective or emotive responses. When an officer arrives to the scene of a fatality, they are required to remain emotionless – and manage the situation. Even when confronted with a death of a child, they are expected to push aside any emotional response and immediately take control of the scene and provide order and a sense of safety to the community. Learning to suppress normal human reactions in the face of a crisis is a part of the job. But suppressing them indefinitely, long after the crisis has passed, is destructive to even the strongest of us.

My mission is to provide a professional, confidential and secure platform which is highly responsive to the trauma faced by peace officers and other first responders. Law enforcement and stress are eternally linked – it’s unavoidable and the nature of the profession. Sometimes we need to work problems out in a safe space away from even family and friends. Please allow me to demonstrate to you that the therapy offered here genuinely helps you the police officer to become empowered to feel back in control of your life.

We only get a short time on this planet, but when trauma or personal challenges become overwhelming we can lose sight of life’s pleasure. Through new perspectives, let me help you to ‘Help Yourself’ get back to enjoying life!

Call Now (346)-493-6181

 

Ben Carrettin is a Nationally Board Certified Counselor (NCC), Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor (LPC-S) and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC). He is the owner of Practice Improvement Resources, LLC; a private business which offers an array of specialized counseling, evidenced-based clinical consultation, Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) and targeted ESI-based services to individuals and businesses.