Trauma is one event that affects and impacts its survivors for a lifetime. From terminal illness, to the death of a loved one, a dysfunctional/abusive home or other life-changing events,: the mental, physical and emotional health of individuals who have experienced traumatic events never remains the same. On the other hand, positive psychology is a branch of psychology that focuses on helping individuals leverage on happy moments and events in life in order to find fulfillment. As humans, we naturally gravitate towards the negative but with the use of positive psychology; we can focus on the positive happenings even when we have experienced a traumatic event.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition characterized by signs and symptoms linked to traumatic experiences: triggers related to the traumatic experiences, avoidance of places that bring back memories of traumatic events, changes in mood and behaviours in relation to the traumatic.
For proper diagnosis, it is also important to note that signs and symptoms of PTSD must have been persistent for a month and also have an impact on a person’s daily life. The symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, nightmares; severe anxiety and emotional numbness which are all distressing for persons experiencing PTSD.
Trauma can change the brain functioning and neurological patterns of victims. Little wonder persons who have experienced trauma often respond to situations and other life events based on their experiences and this behavior is popularly called “trauma response”. PTSD does not select its sufferers but some risk factors such as adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), poverty, abuse, lack of social support can increase its chances and diagnosis in people.
Positive psychology interventions (PPI) are evidence-based strategies designed to improve human wellness and resilience. It is an aspect of psychology that promotes individual resilience. Therefore, positive psychology believes that people desire a fulfilling life, want to develop their abilities and also improve their experiences in relation to their career, love life and leisure activities.
One of the importance of positive psychology is helping you and I find meaning and purpose in life because the brain has the capacity to change. If trauma can disrupt the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain, techniques from positive psychology can enhance healing and recovery meaning trauma survivors can develop a renewed sense of purpose and personal development.
A very popular positive psychology technique is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). This technique helps reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression by altering emotions through the modification of cognitive–affective processes. With this technique, you can use words of affirmations and also restructure negative and intrusive thoughts by analyzing them. MBSR also reduces PTSD symptoms by promoting self-awareness and emotional regulation. Other interventions in positive psychology include: gratitude interventions such as journaling, kindness boosters such as practicing self-compassion, strength based measures such as developing a self-care plan etc.
In the end, using positive psychology in the treatment of PTSD is a prominent means of enhancing the well-being of trauma survivors as (PPI) has the potential to cultivate resilience, positive emotions and meaning to life and recovery. Your happiness is not just an emotion; it is a tool to living a fulfilling and resilient life.
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