In our lifetime, most of us experience incidents small and big that leave a major impact on our lives. Every incident, especially the traumatic ones have either a positive or a negative impact on our lives. People have tough time dealing with both of them. Dealing with situations become more difficult when it has more of a negative impact.
Depression, anxiety, heart diseases, withdrawal symptoms, post-traumatic stress are a result of trauma.
What is Post Traumatic Growth?
Post traumatic growth (PTG) is a notion where individuals experience positive effect after highly stressful or traumatic events. Most of the researchers associate PTG with the well-being of a person after a traumatic incident. It is mostly a positive change that an individual experiences as an outcome of struggle with a major life crisis or a traumatic event.
The term post traumatic growth came into being as an idea that human beings go through a major change psychologically due to the life changing incidents that they encounter. This concept has existed ever since. What is new is the systematic study of this phenomenon by psychologists, social workers, counsellors and scholars in other traditions of clinical practice.
Perceived and actual growth
After a traumatic incident it is difficult to understand the mental condition of an individual. Post traumatic growth has been observed as a symbol of wellness which is an antonym of depression and anxiety. Studies mostly have hinted that a person becomes more stronger if he undergoes PTG after a traumatic incident.
However, there is a thin line of difference between perceived growth and actual growth. Although, most empirical researches suggest that PTG is a growth of a person, no study has actually separated perceived growth and actual growth. And that is for a reason. The reason is that it is very difficult to truly understand the mental condition of a person post a trauma.
Research to study the post traumatic growth patterns
One of the remarkable research exactly tried to find this. The research was conducted among a huge batch of undergraduates before and after a semester where the students underwent stress situation. The students were asked if they have grown psychologically post the stress. While there have been answers like “I can now handle situations better” and “I now know what I am capable of doing”, actual growth suggests that there must be relevant results to the words. While many students spoke about their PTG, very few showed actual results.
Although it is difficult to understand if a person has actually grown post a traumatic incident, the fact that a huge number of people actually grow cannot be ruled out. If we know of friends and family members who have just gone through a traumatic incident, it becomes our responsibility too to ensure their well-being.
How can Post Traumatic Growth happen after a traumatic incident?
Post traumatic growth is not an immediate result of trauma, but, it is the struggle of an individual with his new reality that actually determines the rate of growth.
PTG can occur only if the individual attempts to adapt to the highly positive new set of circumstances.
Social support plays a very important role to help an individual deal efficiently with the mental instability and stress.
It is very important that one or a group of person creates a space for emotional disclosure for the individual dealing with the crisis. It plays a great role to reduce post traumatic stress.
There is a difference between the kind of trauma that men and women undergo. Mostly women are exposed to individual and interpersonal traumatic incidents, while men are more prone to systematic and collective trauma. Although the difference is not rule-bound, however, researchers have found this difference to be most common. Due to the gender-based difference it is important to deal with the individuals as per their need.
Occurrence of Post traumatic growth
PTG mainly comes in these five general areas.
- Individuals who understands undergo major life crisis develop a sense of new opportunity. They tend to believe that without the existence of the trauma they had been through, the new opportunity wouldn’t have come to them.
- PTG might change the relationships with others. An individual may feel connected to a person more than other people. They might also experience closeness with those who suffer similarly.
- PTG is most likely to increase the sense of one’s strength. The feeling of individuals undergoing this area is more like “if I have lived through this, I can live through anything.” This feeling instills a great sense of positivity among the individuals.
- Individuals undergoing PTG tend to have greater appreciation of life in general.
- PTG might come to a person who is deeply religious and spiritual. It helps them deeply connect with the belief that they already had.
Traumatic incidents create a huge impact on a person’s life. A person might undergo PTG, but it doesn’t mean that they don’t suffer. Although many people undergo PTG, it is not universal. There are people who fall prey to severe depression post a traumatic incident. As a society, as humans, it is all of our responsibility to stand beside people who are suffering in silence and help them become happy and strong.