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In recent years, there has been an increasingly recognized phenomenon of trauma among healthcare workers. Like many other front-line responders, healthcare workers are constantly exposed to traumatic events. They see the worst of humanity on a daily basis, and the emotional toll can be devastating. In fact, studies have shown that the trauma experienced by healthcare workers is similar to that experienced by combat veterans. 

Symptoms of Trauma

Healthcare workers who are struggling with trauma often feel isolated and alone. They may feel like they are the only ones who understand what they are going through. This can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Other symptoms of trauma can include:

Nightmares

Healthcare workers may have nightmares about their experiences. These nightmares can be so vivid and realistic that they cause sleep problems.

Avoidance

Healthcare workers may try to avoid anything that reminds them of their trauma. This can include avoiding certain people, places, or activities.

Intrusive thoughts

Healthcare workers may have intrusive thoughts about their trauma. These thoughts can be so distressing that they may avoid thinking about them altogether.

Hypervigilance

Healthcare workers may become excessively vigilant and on guard. This can lead to problems with concentration and sleep.

Anxiety

Healthcare workers may experience high levels of anxiety. This can manifest as physical symptoms such as a racing heart, sweating, and shaking.

Depression

Healthcare workers may struggle with depression. This can include feeling hopeless, worthless, and helpless.

Treatment for Trauma

There are a number of treatments available for healthcare workers who are struggling with trauma. These treatments can help to lessen the symptoms and allow healthcare workers to cope with their experiences in a more healthy way.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy can be an extremely helpful treatment for healthcare workers struggling with trauma. This type of therapy can help them to process their experiences and to develop healthy coping skills.

Medication

Medication can also be used to treat the symptoms of trauma. Antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and sleep aids can all be helpful in managing the symptoms of trauma.

Supplements

Some supplements, such as omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, and probiotics, can promote feelings of calm during work hours and help to reduce the symptoms of trauma.

Mood Support

Mood support supplements can also be helpful in managing the symptoms of trauma. These supplements can help to improve mood, reduce anxiety, and promote healthy sleep.

Ways to Provide Support for Healthcare Workers

If you know a healthcare worker who is struggling with trauma, there are a number of ways that you can provide support.

Listen

One of the best things you can do is to simply listen. Allow the person to share their experiences and feelings without judgment.

Educate yourself

Take some time to educate yourself about the effects of trauma. This will help you to understand what the person is going through and how best to support them.

Offer practical assistance

Offer to help with childcare, errands, or other practical tasks. This can take some of the pressure off of the person and allow them to focus on their recovery.

Be patient

Recovery from trauma can take time. Be patient and understanding as the person works through their experiences.

If you are a healthcare worker struggling with trauma, know that you are not alone. Seek help from a mental health professional if you need it. There is no shame in seeking treatment for trauma. With the right support, you can recover and live a healthy, happy life.

Scott Larson