Most people will experience a traumatic event at some stage in their life.
Trauma gets defined as an event or experience that severely impacts a person’s ability to function or cope. Many traumatic events can trigger trauma in a person; therefore, people must be aware of the signs.
Traumatic stress can result from psychological, physical, or emotional harm.
Many people will experience some form of traumatic event leading to traumatic stress reactions at some point, such as the sudden death of a loved one or a severe injury.
Traumatic stress disorder PTSD
Not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will develop PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
However, people will likely develop PTSD symptoms immediately after a traumatic event, all of which are common reactions to traumatic stress.
There are many different variations of trauma, and there is no ‘one size fits all’. However, some typical scenarios get considered as being traumatic.
The types of traumatic events that people may experience throughout a lifetime include:
- Death of a loved one
- Family or parental abandonment
- Car accident
- Physical injury
- Natural disasters
- Serious illness
- Witnessing an accident, crime, or death
Trauma fits into many different categories: natural disasters, accidents, or sexual assault, which get considered one-time events or single event traumas.
Other traumas are chronic and long-lasting, such as domestic violence or chronic illness. Other trauma types often get dismissed, such as surgery or childbirth.
Intense physical and emotional reactions are common after a traumatic event has occurred.
Moreover, it’s impossible to say what kind of trauma symptoms are ”normal” or ”abnormal” since everyone reacts to trauma differently.
Trauma disorder responses
However, there are some common trauma responses that people typically exhibit after a traumatic event, such as:
Your body goes into protective mode after a traumatic event, and it is very natural to feel jumpy, on edge, and more aware of your surroundings than usual.
Keeping you safe from actual or threatened death
Mental health professionals explain that hypervigilance is a protective symptom and is your body’s way of protecting you from harm, keeping you safe, and more aware of potential danger or threats.
When people go into hyper-vigilant mode, the natural safety mechanism in the body will be more sensitive after a traumatic event.
#2. Intrusive memories and thoughts
Experiencing distressing memories and thoughts are all common reactions to trauma. Those experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms may encounter something or someone that reminds them of the traumatic event.
As a result, people may feel as though they are reliving traumatic events all over again.
#3. Feeling edgy and unsafe
Feeling unsafe and on edge after a traumatic event is another typical trauma response.
Our understanding of the world often comes into question when something terrible happens, since the microcosm of safety and predictability we once lived in has gotten shattered.
Subsequently, the world no longer feels safe, and individuals may view certain people or situations as dangerous or threatening.
Places or people that once made you feel safe and secure have the opposite effect, and you may experience anxiety or feelings of being unsafe.
All this is likely to occur in places or situations that remind you of the traumatic event.
Hyperarousal symptoms are also likely to occur after a traumatic event where a person feels nervous and keyed up.
Again, this is part of the body’s natural protection system. Anxiety and fear are all common emotional reactions to trauma.
Negative thoughts and feelings like anxiety and fear tell us that danger is present. The bodily sensations accompanying these feelings get designed to help us respond to danger appropriately.
Fight, flight and freeze.
Our bodily systems prepare us for a fight, flight, or freeze; these protective responses help us get through a challenging event.
After a traumatic event, it is natural for the body’s alarm system to be more stimulated to protect you from future harm.
Re-experiencing is the most prevalent form of PTSD.
When people develop PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder, they may involuntarily relive the traumatic event, which involves:
- Repetitive and distressing images or sensations
- Physical sensations such as chest pain, sweating, feeling sick, or shaking
- Nightmares and difficulty concentrating
Many people with mental and physical symptoms of traumatic stress disorder PTSD may experience negative thoughts about the traumatic event.
Some may ruminate over what happened and what could have gotten done to prevent the tragedy.
Moreover, people who replay the traumatic event in their minds may experience guilt or shame and might end up blaming themselves for what happened.
Mental health problems
Ruminating and replaying a traumatic event in your mind can make PTSD symptoms worse or trigger other issues with mental illness such as anxiety or depression.
People experiencing the above symptoms must speak to a mental health professional who can help diagnose and treat trauma symptoms.
Fortunately, there are treatments available for those dealing with the mental health repercussions of traumatic events.
Whether someone has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder or other mental health problems arising from trauma or traumatic stress, there are plenty of therapies to help people manage their symptoms and deal with their trauma.
Whether a person has experienced childhood trauma, childhood abuse, physical abuse, or another traumatizing event that may trigger PTSD symptoms, a mental health professional will determine what treatment is suitable for you and your mental health history.
Some trauma treatments include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Exposure therapy
- Eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR)
- Talk therapy
- Cognitive processing therapy
Mental health condition
Depending on your mental health condition, mental health professionals will assess what type of trauma treatment is best for you.
People with traumatic event avoidance symptoms may receive different treatment from those presenting with anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep problems, mood symptoms, suicidal thoughts, and severe symptoms of PTSD.
For example, combat veterans who experience PTSD may require a different form of PTSD treatment from those exposed to a natural disaster.
Risk factors: the mental and physical effects on PTSD patients
The mental and physical effects of trauma are different for everyone.
Some people may experience hardly any symptoms of PTSD, while others may adopt self-destructive coping strategies such as substance misuse or another mental health condition.
Some people may even experience positive emotions after a traumatic event and view their experiences positively. They may also experience fewer symptoms than those who have gotten PTSD diagnosed.
Research suggests plenty of factors that put people at higher risk of developing PTSD, such as those with co-occurring mental illness, genetics, family history, and the type of trauma endured.
Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms may also get aroused during specific occasions such as trauma anniversaries. Thus people must be vigilant and increase self-care measures during these times.
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms mentioned above, perhaps it’s time to get in touch with one of our specialists who can help.
At Camino Recovery, we specialize in a wide range of trauma treatments that relieve the distress associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. Get in touch to find out how we can help.