Over on my other blog, MyLittleCorner, I made a post on releasing past trauma. Obviously, all trauma is different and I want to stress that if anyone is struggling with it in such a way that it affects your daily life, seek help. It’s very rare to overcome it all by yourself and support is needed more often than not. Support can be in the form of friends, family and professionals.
Firstly, we need to understand what trauma is. ‘Trauma is an emotional response to a terrible’. In the long term, trauma can lead to anxiety, depression, as well as other mental health disorders (1). One common reason for trauma related mental health issues stems from childhood trauma. Childhood trauma is defined as all forms of emotion and/or physical maltreatment, sexual abuse, neglect and negligence. In adulthood; depression, unconscious defences (such as dissociation), unhealthy dysfunctional coping behaviour (substance abuse or eating disorders) can become apparent due to childhood trauma. This is an idea that has significant evidence, with one study showing significant associations between non-sexual child abuse and a range of mental disorders (2). It could also suggest that because individuals who suffered childhood trauma developed mental health disorders in adulthood, are more susceptible to encountering trauma due to anxiety.
It’s no news that anxiety can affect ones decision making. Those who suffer with anxiety disorders, display an inability to adaptively function in everyday tasks, such as employment or social situations. Looking at it in terms of cognitive processing, research has demonstrated two information-processing biases that are characteristic of anxiety:
- A bias to attend to threat-related information that is presented.
- A bias to the negative interpretation of undeterminable stimuli (also known as anticipating the worst).
These biases can lead to a general pattern of faster response times when a threat is identified (3). This quick decision making can lead to an increased likelihood of making decisions that favour easing the anxiety, yet; with anxiety, alleviating the tends to be in the short term and avoids any serious confrontation. Avoiding this confrontation can as a result, lead to further trauma and abuse as an adult. So, what are techniques to control it and effectively reduce this impaired decision making?
Techniques to Reduce Anxiety
I want to cover published scientific techniques in the article. On my other blog, I will discuss what has worked for me and what I do believe is worth a try. Everyone is different and overcoming anxiety is a journey of self discovery.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
CBT involves interventions to manipulate dysfunctional ways of thinking and patterns of behaviour and this is aimed at reducing psychological suffering. It has become evident that from large studies that CBT has been shown to result in symptom improvement among individuals with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalised anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and panic disorder. CBT includes a wide range of techniques and this can be decided by a mental health professional (4).
Other Helpful Techniques to do Alone
- Learning about anxiety. Educating yourself on how anxiety works and identifying triggers creates an incredible power in one self. Through understanding anxiety, you can realise why your brain is thinking this way and attempt to stop it.
- Mindfulness. It’s very easy to spend a lot of time in a cycle of anxious thoughts. Mindfulness brings us back to the present moment and removes unproductive thoughts. I’ll probably make another post on mindfulness at some point but for now I’ll attach a link.
- Relaxation techniques. A lot of these relaxation techniques state breathing as a primary example, however I would like to stress that breathing is not the only way to relax. For some people, it could be gaming, writing, reading, watching TV.
- Breathing techniques to counter hyperventilating. When panicking, breathing does aid in slowing the heart rate and reducing that involuntary response that stems from the fight or flight response.
- Exercise. It floods the body with adrenaline and other stress related chemicals which in turn can promote relaxation.
- Learning to be assertive. Through assertiveness you can learn to communicate needs, wants and feelings. This can be beneficial because people can tell you what they need and more importantly, you can tell others what you need in a relationship (5).
These are just a few techniques to try. Controlling any mental health disorder is an incredibly difficult task and takes a lot of mental energy. At the end of the day, it’s about discovering what’s right for you.
Thanks for reading! Be sure to check our and follow my other blog MyLittleCorner!
- The Impact of Trauma
- PhD Diaries – Money Worries
- PhD Diaries – The Calm Before the Storm
- The Long-Term Effects of COVID-19
- Climate Change…
2. (Impact of childhood trauma on depressive and anxiety disorders) – https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/bitstream/handle/1887/36026/Proefschrift_JGFM_Hovens.pdf?sequence=1#page=66
3. Anxiety and Decision-Making (https://www.biologicalpsychiatryjournal.com/article/S0006-3223(12)00009-1/fulltext)
4. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Anxiety and Related Disorders: a Meta Analysis of Randomised Placebo-Controlled Trials (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5992015/#!po=5.55556)
5. Managing Anxiety (https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/anxiety-treatment-options).