When someone has experienced trauma in their life, the implications of traumatic stress can be devastating.
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- PTSD symptoms
- Substance abuse
- Disruption to your normal routine
- Emotional distress
- Intrusive thoughts and flashbacks (often symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder)
- Other mental illness disorders such as anxiety and depression
What is trauma?
For most people, the terms ”trauma” or post traumatic stress disorder often get attributed to veterans who have served in the war or people who have survived natural disasters or victims of sexual assault.
Most common reactions to psychological disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder often get dismissed in the broader context, but even going to the doctor for a pap test or visiting the dentist can induce feelings of trauma!
Emotional reactions to trauma often get overlooked by society in general, leaving trauma survivors feeling as though their trauma symptoms don’t matter as much. It can often feel as though the way they think isn’t valid enough to warrant a discussion.
Trauma expert Peter Levine explains the effects of psychological trauma and the risk factors a traumatic event can have on a person’s life.
”Trauma can affect our interpersonal relationships and family life,” Levine explains, ” it can also induce real physical pain, symptoms, and disease. Trauma can also lead to a whole range of self-destructive behaviours.”
What causes someone to develop PTSD?
Traumatic stress reactions vary from person to person. What one individual deems as traumatic may be an entirely different experience to the person next to them.
Nobody has the right to tell you what is traumatic and what isn’t since we all react differently to what is happening within our environments.
Emotional and physical reactions
Trauma reactions can be anything that stems from an event, a situation, or a person that leaves you feeling uneasy, uncomfortable, violated, physically hurt, or utterly out of control.
You are the only person who can interpret your experience.
Traumatic events tend to follow a typical narrative with a sense of actual or perceived danger. As a result, the individual feels they cannot respond well or cope with the situation or event.
After a traumatic event has subsided, the person develops a series of physical and psychological symptoms.
Within the mental health space, trauma often gets misdiagnosed or missed entirely. Unfortunately, many mental health experts believe that trauma is the only accurate diagnosis, and addictions and mental disorders are the effects of trauma.
Research suggests that many mental health specialists believe that mental illnesses such as complex PTSD have gotten misdiagnosed as having other mental health problems such as anxiety and depressive disorders.
All this is true for other mental disorders classified within the diagnostic and statistical manual, such as Bipolar, Narcissism, Borderline and Codependent disorders.
Five telltale signs that you are suffering from emotional trauma
There are several ways a person can tell whether they are suffering from traumatic stress and acute stress disorder. PTSD symptoms like the ones mentioned above can vary, but typically a person with trauma symptoms often experience the following:
#1. Sleep disorders
Symptoms of a sleep disorder can range from not falling asleep to being unable to stay asleep. Some people may also experience nightmares because of their traumatic memories.
If the traumatic events occurred while you were sleeping, you are likely to experience anxiety around bedtime or nighttime in general.
Flashbacks are perhaps one of the most challenging trauma symptoms since they can significantly interrupt a person’s daily life.
Flashbacks are distressing and intrusive images that are pervasive and play over in your mind. The images people experience are often associated with their traumatic experiences or events.
Physical and emotional flashbacks can be distressing mainly because the person feels as though they are re-experiencing the event all over again. However, flashbacks can also produce physical and emotional reactions.
#3. Feelings of shame and lack of self-worth
Trauma survivors, particularly those who have experienced childhood trauma, violence, or abuse by people they once trusted (such as close relatives or family members), can experience overwhelming feelings of shame.
Getting betrayed by those we trust can be devastating and often does a lot of damage to a person’s self-worth.
Shame is one of the main symptoms that people develop after trauma, and those experiencing symptoms of PTSD often believe they are ”bad” or that they are ”going crazy”.
Statistics show that feelings of hopelessness and isolation can lead to suicide.
Physical sensations, physical distress, and other mental health problems are some of the common reactions to trauma.
Unfortunately, trauma is often overlooked in society, sometimes even glamorized, which means that many people suffer in silence, while others may not even know that they are suffering from trauma.
#4. Substance abuse and addiction
Those who have endured traumatic experiences often adopt unhealthy coping strategies to help numb their feelings.
Whether a person has endured childhood trauma or other traumatic experience, they are likely suffering from some form of posttraumatic stress disorder to some degree.
Addiction is often at the heart of all trauma and is usually a symptom of an underlying problem.
Many people say that their substance abuse addiction helps to ”numb the pain” or helps them to forget their problems and traumatic experiences.
#5. Depression and anxiety
They may also be prone to physical complaints about their health, experience anger difficulty, low mood symptoms, and intrusive thoughts, to name just a few. People with these symptoms usually benefit by learning appropriate coping strategies to help them manage.
Depression is often the cause of chronic trauma and repeated trauma, as with childhood abuse or domestic violence.
Depression and anxiety can also result from a loss of safety and security, particularly if the people involved in a traumatic event such as a car accident or natural disaster died.
Trauma survivors usually benefit from having psychological treatment such as therapy and trauma treatment.
Mental health professionals can help people cope with their trauma symptoms by looking at their traumatic stress reactions and PTSD symptoms in a more helpful way.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Therapy such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps people understand their trauma and any destructive tendencies that may have arisen because of these experiences. CBT allows people to talk through their issues and helps people to reframe the way they think and behave.
EMDR (eye movement desensitization reprocessing therapy)
EMDR therapy is a type of psychotherapy that helps people process and recover from difficult life experiences affecting a person’s emotional and physical well-being.
Using side-to-side eye movements and talk therapy in a structured format by a licensed mental health professional, EMDR helps to process any negative beliefs, thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations that get linked to traumatic memories that appear to be stuck.
Equally, EMDR helps people view their experiences from a different perspective, relieves the symptoms they are experiencing, and instils more positive emotions for the future.
People must be aware that symptoms of trauma-related to a traumatic experience or event are all normal reactions.
These intense feelings mustn’t get ignored or overlooked as they can create many mental and physical problems later.
Developing high-risk behaviours such as substance abuse often result in unpleasant symptoms such as mood swings, muscle tension, low mood symptoms, and a whole range of stress reactions.
People with trauma symptoms must reach out to family, friends, and a mental health professional for help and emotional support.
PTSD treatment is an option for people wanting to explore and treat their trauma symptoms, and at our centre, support and guidance are always available. Get in touch with one of our specialists today, who will be able to guide you further.