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Truly traumatic events put our brains and bodies in survival mode. It is an automatic response to something traumatic and life-threatening. The problem is that many people who have experienced trauma continue to live in survival mode. They may think they have overcome the trauma, but the brain is still operating on that base level of surviving. This is especially true of someone with post-traumatic stress disorder. If you have experienced a trauma, how do you move past survival mode and learn to embrace life again?
Trauma and Survival Mode
Whatever the traumatic event is, such as sexual assault, the loss of a loved one, childhood abuse, and the experiences of combat or anything else terrible and troubling, survival mode is normal. The normal state of the brain is what experts call learning mode. You and your brain are out to explore, learn about and enjoy the world around you. When you experience a traumatic event, what happens is your brain shifts into survival mode. This means your brain is on the defensive and your responses to stimuli and stresses are negative instead of mostly positive as they are in learning mode.
Someone who has been through trauma often stays in at least a partial form of this survival mode long after the event. This is one of the reasons why childhood abuse is so damaging. An abused child learns to live in this mode, and it has far-reaching consequences. Without proper treatment, a child may never learn to enjoy life as an adult.
Source: Promises Treatment Center. https://www.promises.com/blog/trauma-move-beyond-survival-mode/
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