Every day in the news, we read or hear about horrible tragedies. But, we never know what happens the day after the trauma.
According to the American Psychological Association in Washington, D.C., half of all Americans will face a traumatic experience.
ʺMost of the traumatic aftermath of these tragedies doesn’t make it to the press,ʺ says Carolyn Coarsey, Ph.D., a psychotherapist in Atlanta and cofounder of the Family Assistance Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving corporate disaster response. ʺAnyone who lives through something like this returns to a life that is totally different.ʺ
Nearly two thirds of trauma victims, even those who had extreme pain, say they ultimately benefited from the aftermath of their experience, according to the research of Richard G. Tedeschi, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
The research tracked the outcomes of people who survived traumas and accidents including: life-threatening illnesses or the death of a child. Tedeschi and his colleagues identified a phenomenon they call post-traumatic growth.
Post-traumatic growth is when survivors grow closer to people they love or when others develop a sense of personal strength or appreciation for life. Also, some spiritual beliefs deepened or others changed their career and life goals.
Women are more likely than men to report these benefits.
Studies show individuals who are more extroverted, optimistic and open to new experiences are most likely to experience post-traumatic growth.
“It’s not about getting over it‚ it’s about processing it in the most meaningful way,” Tedeschi says. “You still have your fears and grief and suffering, but you have made your suffering meaningful. If you can learn to do that, you can get through the bad stuff in life and find value in the struggle.”
Between six percent and nine percent of people who have experienced or witnessed a life-threatening accident will develop PTSD.