Medical trauma is real but sometimes it can be hard to recognize.
Medical trauma impacts many people and can lead to anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or even chronic pain.
Medical trauma is particularly common among people who live with chronic illnesses and disabilities.
The American Psychological Association refers to trauma as an emotional response to a particular event. Trauma can have long-term impacts and can lead to symptoms like flashbacks, changes in mood and personality, and physical symptoms.
Trauma often is referred to in regard to specific scenarios. Sometimes people who experience trauma, medical or otherwise may not believe that what they are experiencing is a reaction to trauma. Sometimes it can be hard to recognize that past experiences were traumatic.
The truth is that there isn’t just one situation that can be considered trauma. Anything that makes you feel afraid, invalidated, humiliated, trapped, ashamed, abandoned, or unsafe can be traumatic.
When you live with a long-term illness or disability, there are many situations that may be traumatic. Sometimes these situations occur in medical settings.
According to the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, some medical events that may result cause a trauma response include:
Sometimes people experiencing trauma as a result of a medical experience may not recognize that that’s what’s happening.
Sometimes people believe that their traumatic experiences were just necessary parts of their medical treatment or that healthcare providers were just trying to do their jobs.
Medical experiences can be traumatizing even if healthcare providers did everything right.
Some signs you may have experienced medical trauma include:
The thing about medical trauma, especially for those who live with chronic conditions, is that the traumatizing events may reoccur due to their medical needs and concerns.
Medical trauma is very real and can be a devastating and difficult problem to live with. Medical trauma can have impacts that affect people mentally, emotionally, and sometimes even physically.
For some people, it can be validating to know that what they’re experiencing is a form of trauma.
Understanding that your feelings stem from past trauma can help you process and better understand the symptoms you are experiencing. Recognizing medical trauma is an important first step in getting help to address it.
Some options for help include mental health professionals, support groups, and online communities.
It can also help to hear about the experiences of others.
As it stands, the awareness and support available for people who have experienced medical trauma is lacking. There is still a need for greater mental health support for people who live with chronic illnesses and disabilities.
Medical trauma is very real. If you’re experiencing the impacts of medical trauma, it’s important to know that it’s not your fault and that you are not alone.
Fact checked on June 24, 2022
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