Trauma Affects Personal and Work Relationships

Trauma Affects Personal and Work Relationships  

©Jane Simington PhD  

The three major categories of symptoms resulting from trauma can significantly interfere with both personal and work relationships. These categories of symptoms: hyper-vigilance, intrusions, and constriction, result from the reconditioning effect of trauma on the nervous system. People who experience hyper-vigilance have, for the most part, lost their normal baseline for expressing emotions. They are easily provoked by the least irritation and can respond with anger that turns to instant rage. The hyper-vigilant person is hyper alert, easily startled and always feeling under attack. The experience of trauma is not relegated to the past, but continually intrudes into the present, making the person re-experience the traumatizing events as though they were reliving them. These symptoms continue during the night causing poor sleep and night terrors.

The symptoms of hyper-vigilance and intrusions make the person maladaptive to a life of safety and security. Attempting to adjust to these feelings, and to control the pervasive fears and anxieties, traumatized persons begin to live a constricted life. Having lost trust in everyone and every situation, they begin to fear all contact with others. This inner turmoil often results in their withdrawal from the world and in the termination of social contacts, resulting in a dissolving of personal and work relationships.

The more trauma-informed we are, the more we recognize how traumatic events recondition the nervous system, resulting in difficulty in the maintenance of healthy personal relationships. Being trauma-informed makes us also more capable of recognizing why traumatized persons often drop out of the work force, resulting in downward financial concerns, which in turn can create overwhelming feelings of disempowerment, hopelessness and unworthiness. The more we understand these cycles, the more we recognize that, as we help traumatized people heal from the three major categories of symptoms: hyper-vigilance, intrusions, and constrictions, the more we block those cycles and help them regain quality personal and work relationships.




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