I want to briefly highlight 4 definitions of trauma in which you may or may not be familiar.
Adverse Event: Any event which causes discomfort or distress for an individual. This could be a cardiac arrest, trauma, maternal/fetal demise, medication error, documentation error, difficult conversation with a peer/coworker/leader/provider, job loss, financial hardship, rape, domestic violence, parental separation, etc.
Secondary Trauma: an acute stress reaction caused from the exposure of an adverse event. Symptoms may include poor or clouded thinking, increased heart rate/blood pressure/respirations, depression, anxiety, anger, rage, GI upset, shortness of breath, reliving the event, questioning your behaviors, imagining the patient as family, etc.
Compassion Fatigue: a chronic stress reaction caused from the exposure of adverse event(s) and unresolved secondary trauma. Symptoms are identical to secondary trauma except these have been manifested over a prolonged period of time. Symptoms are now compounded and the individual will likely have multiple sets of symptoms as the underlying problem has been unresolved. Relationships may be compromised with compassion fatigue and/or activities that were once enjoyable are no longer pleasurable.
Burnout: a chronic stress reaction from unresolved Compassion Fatigue. At this point, the individual is mentally, emotionally, physically, relationally, and spiritually exhausted. Routine activities are a nuisance. Relationships may be severely compromised or damaged. The individual may appear as though they are “just going through the motions” and may be viewed by others as “jaded”, “cynical”, or “a royal pain to be around.” These individuals may not see their behavior as wrong because they have buried their trauma for such a prolonged period of time and it has gone on unresolved.
Burnout is where many healthcare workers are RIGHT NOW!
You may be affected by secondary trauma, compassion fatigue, or truly burned out!
Please heart this…
You are not BROKEN!
You may feel broken, beat down, discouraged, and ready to give up. You have been exposed to trauma and the pain you are experiencing is temporary. It is not eternal.
In several upcoming blog posts, we are going to discuss resiliency strategies and other methods to help cope with some of the trauma experiences in addition to providing you with resources to manage through the traumatic responses.
How have you been exposed to trauma?