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Vicarious Trauma

When we experience overwhelming volumes of information—especially information that holds an emotional charge—our bodies, minds, and spirit adapt to help us cope. At times, the way we cope may help in the moment but may have negative long-term results.

While there are signs you or a person you know may be dealing with vicarious trauma, everyone copes differently. If you notice any of your own experiences in the following list, please remember solutions exist.

Exhaustion and physical ailments

  • Constant tiredness, even after resting
  • Physical body tension
  • Headaches, back pain, and wrist pain
  • Difficulty falling asleep or excessive sleeping
  • Falling sick when you have time to rest, such as on a vacation

Emotional shifts

  • Hypersensitive to emotionally-charged material
  • Feeling disconnected from your emotions and/or your body
  • Guilt for having more resources or opportunities than those you deserve
  • Feeling like no matter how much you give, it will never be enough
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless about the future
  • Increased levels of anger, irritability, resentment, or cynicism

Thought patterns

  • Difficulty in seeing multiple perspectives or new solutions
  • Jumping to conclusions, rigid thinking, or difficulty being thoughtful and deliberate
  • Minimizing the suffering of others in comparison to the most severe incidents or situations
  • Intrusive thoughts and imagery related to the traumatic material you have seen or heard

Behavioral shifts

  • Absenteeism and attrition
  • Avoidance of work, relationships, and/or responsibilities
  • Dread of activities that used to be positive or neutral
  • Using behaviors to escape, such as eating, taking alcohol/drugs, watching TV, or shopping

Relationship changes

  • No separation of personal and professional time
  • Viewing other people who don’t work within your field as less important
  • Difficulty relating to others’ day-to-day experiences without comparing them to those you serve or yourself
  • Lacking a personal life outside of work
  • Hyper vigilant and concerned about the safety of those you care about
  • Isolate yourself completely from others or only interacting with people who are in your same field or can relate to your experiences

Solutions and coping strategies exist.  You are worthy of feeling better and you are worth the investment of time and work to journey to a better mental state.  Give Amy Wine Counseling Center a call at 832-421-8714 if you have any questions about our therapy services or if you would like to schedule an appointment.

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