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Trauma is what happens in the brain when an individual experiences something which takes them beyond their normal emotional coping capacity. Following such an experience the individual may have such symptoms as extreme anxiety, flashbacks that interrupt normal day-to-day functioning, and avoidance of things that connect with the difficult memory.

For example, a person might totally avoid riding in a car after a car accident or drive miles out of the way to avoid the intersection where the accident symptoms are generally characteristic of trauma. Trauma specific treatment is important so that the individual can move beyond the way in which the brain has “stored” this experience. Additionally, until trauma is addressed the individual will not be able to process grief issues related to the event. Trauma overrides grief and prevents any real movement in the grief process.

Copyright 2012 The Austin Center for Grief & Loss

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