Post-traumatic growth: The silver lining to the stress

We often hear that personal growth comes from the challenges we face, but this week I read about some researchers who have documented that concept.

In the most recent study, scientists interviewed hundreds of survivors of the tornado that rocked Joplin, Missouri, in 2011. The disaster took 161 lives, injured over 1,000 people, and destroyed about a third of the city’s homes.

As is common in situations like this, survivors are dealing with post-traumatic stress and other mental health issues. But, according to the interviews, they’re also experiencing post-traumatic personal growth.

Survivors described things like:

  • greater appreciation for life,
  • better ability to relate to others,
  • increased personal strength,
  • access to new possibilities, and
  • spiritual growth.

The interviews included questions about how much survivors had discussed the tornado with friends, family, and neighbors, and researchers found that the more they talked, the more they grew.

Previous studies have measured post traumatic growth in groups like war veterans and breast cancer patients. Take a look at those studies. It’s inspiring to see the goodness people are able to take out of terrible situations!

Study Offers Hope, Sheds Light on How Vets Respond to Trauma

New Study Shows Positive Personal Growth Following Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Mental Health Solutions, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults. Information in this blog is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider about decisions regarding your health.


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