Traumatic Experiences Make You Stronger, Study Reveals

As German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once said, 'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger' and now there is new evidence to support his theory as researchers discover that traumatic experiences can help people develop resilience.

Scientists from the University of Buffalo discovered that although a traumatic event such as a bereavement or a physical attack can be psychologically damaging - small amounts of trauma make us more resilient and mentally stronger.

Researchers looked at those who had suffered difficult times and found these people were more distressed in general. However, when compared to those who had suffered little adversity or none at all, there was little difference in psychological problems.

To illustrate this point, researchers found that those suffering from chronic back pain were able to move around with greater ease if they had experienced some kind of serious adversity in the past.

Scientists from the study, published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, believe this is because those who’ve suffered have had more opportunity to develop their coping mechanisms more acutely.

“The idea is that negative life experiences can toughen people, making them better able to manage subsequent difficulties,” says Dr Mark Seery from the study. "I really look at this as being a silver lining. Just because something bad has happened to someone doesn’t mean they’re doomed to be damaged from that point on.”

And it isn't just trauma that can make us stronger. Find out how to harness your fears and use them to your advantage, below.