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The Emotional Trauma of Loss

Grieving the loss of a job, a home, a pet, or a loved one can arouse the same emotions one experiences in the loss of a parent, a grandparent, or a child. Losing a job and finding it impossible to find another or losing a home and ending up on the streets sounds less tragic than the loss of a child, yet both can cause emotional trauma resulting from disturbance of activity in the emotional centers of the brain. This trauma can physically result in chest pain, heart abnormalities, high blood pressure, and shortness of breath. A person experiencing the loss of a spouse due to divorce can experience the same denial, anger, unacceptance, and depression as someone mourning the death of a loved one.

The emotional trauma of loss results in changes to brain function. Loss of a pet can cause denial, anger, and guilt. Loss of a job can cause chronic stress, anxiety, and depression. Loss of possessions can trigger intense sadness, anger, and grief. Loss of a home can lead to homelessness. Almost 50 percent of the homeless experience brain injury. If not treated, symptoms of emotional trauma can last a lifetime. Improving Lives Counseling Services’ team of counselors and therapists diagnosis and treat the mental, emotional, and psychological effects of emotional trauma due to loss.

Scientists report, that regardless of the nature or type of loss, the emotional trauma of loss affects the mind, the body, and the brain. Psychiatrists go further and identify emotional traumatic loss as a type of brain injury. Though physical and psychological symptoms vary greatly, they include anxiety, fear, irritability, social detachments, shock, obsessive compulsive disorder, numbing in the hands and feet, headaches, fatigue, loneliness, and never-ending guilt. In the death of a loved one, families grieve together through religious rituals, cultural or ethnic customs, and routines. With the loss of a job, a home, possessions, or financial security there are layers of physical and traumatic loss, and no channels in which to makes things better. Due to humiliation and embarrassment, there is rarely anyone to lean on or turn to.

The Mental Health Foundation found: “Homelessness increases the risk of poor mental health, severe ill health and disability. There is no simple measure to resolve these problems. The relationship between housing and mental health is so important that it cannot be overstated. Unless we address the fundamentals of mental health in policy and practice, we are never likely to get on top of the homelessness crisis.”

On the toll of job loss, The American Psychological Association reported: “The mental health impacts of today’s job losses are likely to be significant, given a large body of research showing that unemployment, underemployment, and job instability is linked to anxiety, depression, and loss of life satisfaction. Many need psychological support. In fact, research suggests that a mental health informed approach is not just helpful, it’s required.”

On losing everything, Psychology Today reports: “The most devastating and destructive weather events can cause people to suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as surely as others develop it from combat experiences. It is the rare survivor of losing everything, that comes through without some form of psychological trauma. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association, after a traumatic event if you suffer from symptoms that include depression, anxiety, flashbacks, avoidance, isolation, difficulty falling and/or staying asleep, difficulty concentrating, irritability, an exaggerated startle response, and hypervigilance, you may have Acute Stress Disorder (ASD). If these symptoms last longer than a month, you may suffer from PTSD.”

Accepting the death of a loved one, securing housing and employment, recovering material losses, or adopting a new pet doesn’t repair the damage to mental health and psychological wellbeing. Grief, a natural response to loss, causes sadness, loneliness, depression, anger, anxiety, depression, and feelings of guilt. The counselors, therapists, and clinicians of Improving Lives Counseling Services diagnose and treat the emotional trauma of loss. Our team of licensed professionals meet the specific needs of children, adolescents, teens, adults, and seniors, virtually (online) and in-person, in individual, couples, family, and group sessions. Pushing emotions aside, or attempting to bury the past, thinking you’ll get over it in time, or that “this too shall pass” will not make the need for mental health care disappear. You and those you care about the most can live the lives you were meant to live. Call us.