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12 Steps You Should Take to Heal from a Traumatic Experience

Reader's Digest Logo By Tina Donvito of Reader's Digest | Slide 1 of 12: <p>Of all the <a href='https://www.rd.com/health/conditions/myths-about-mental-health/1'>mental health myths that need to be set straight right now</a>, one of the most damaging is that we can easily move on from a traumatic experience. According to the <a href='https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/coping-with-traumatic-events/index.shtml'>National Institute of Mental Health</a>, a traumatic experience is a shocking, scary, or dangerous experience that affects you emotionally. It could be a natural disaster, a car accident, a crime, a death, or a violent attack that left you feeling helpless, frightened, or out of control. Afterward, you may insist to others—and yourself—that you're OK, because physically, you've survived. But that doesn't mean the experience didn't leave emotional scars. 'When danger presents, it shakes the foundation of our predictable world, and as such, we react internally with neurobiology moving into 'fight or flight' mode,' says psychologist Deborah Serani, PsyD, an American Red Cross Disaster Mental Health Specialist and the author of <a href='https://www.amazon.com/Living-Depression-Biology-Biography-Healing/dp/1442224010/?tag=reader0b-20'>Living with Depression</a>. 'If the danger is enormous, or bodily harm has occurred, it can cause a traumatic reaction.' This may include intense feelings of anger, sadness, anxiety, guilt, or confusion. You may also feel numb or easily agitated.</p>

Admit what you're going through

Of all the mental health myths that need to be set straight right now, one of the most damaging is that we can easily move on from a traumatic experience. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, a traumatic experience is a shocking, scary, or dangerous experience that affects you emotionally. It could be a natural disaster, a car accident, a crime, a death, or a violent attack that left you feeling helpless, frightened, or out of control. Afterward, you may insist to others—and yourself—that you're OK, because physically, you've survived. But that doesn't mean the experience didn't leave emotional scars. 'When danger presents, it shakes the foundation of our predictable world, and as such, we react internally with neurobiology moving into 'fight or flight' mode,' says psychologist Deborah Serani, PsyD, an American Red Cross Disaster Mental Health Specialist and the author of Living with Depression. 'If the danger is enormous, or bodily harm has occurred, it can cause a traumatic reaction.' This may include intense feelings of anger, sadness, anxiety, guilt, or confusion. You may also feel numb or easily agitated.

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