Understanding the Impact of Trauma

Trauma is described as a distressing event or experience that can have a lasting impact on your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. 

It often overwhelms your ability to cope in certain situations and can lead to various psychological and emotional symptoms and challenges.

This article outlines the impact of trauma, its symptoms, and various treatments that can help you process your trauma and manage its effects.

If you are concerned that you or a loved one may be suffering from trauma symptoms, you must speak to a mental health professional who can help.

Unresolved trauma can have a detrimental, lasting impact on your health and well-being; therefore, you must seek the help of a professional who can diagnose and treat your symptoms and any underlying causes.

Camino Recovery specialises in diagnosing and treating many different types of trauma.

We utilise various evidence-based treatments, including EMDR (eye movement desensitisation reprocessing) and other trauma-informed therapies to help you process and overcome your traumatic experiences.

Contact our specialist team to learn more about our trauma-informed treatment programs and kick-start your journey to trauma healing.

What is trauma?

Trauma has various definitions, but simply put, an individual may experience trauma due to a distressing event or experience that impacts their ability to function and cope. 

Many of us will likely experience trauma at some point in our lives, whether it be from the sudden loss of a loved one or being involved in a car accident or other serious incident. 

It’s crucial to note that while some people may develop post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms (PTSD) after something upsetting or distressing happens, not everyone who experiences trauma will develop PTSD.

Each of us conceptualises and processes traumatic experiences differently and there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to how someone deals with trauma.

What type of events causes someone to experience trauma?

Various events can trigger a person to experience trauma. 

However, trauma experts have identified some common situations and scenarios that are considered traumatic; they include:

  • Death of a loved one
  • Being involved in a car accident or other serious incident
  • Family or parental abandonment
  • Abuse or neglect
  • Divorce or separation
  • Natural disasters
  • Job loss
  • Terrorism
  • Exposure to a crime, accident, or death
  • Physical injury or being diagnosed with a severe illness
  • Imprisonment 
  • Kidnapping
Upset businesswoman packing her things in box during leaving from her workplace

Trauma can come in various shapes and sizes. 

For instance, some traumatic events, including natural disasters or exposure to violence are often considered single or one-time events that are limited in scope and duration. 

Other traumas are long-lasting and chronic, such as exposure to ongoing domestic abuse or living with a terminal illness. 

Understanding the impact of trauma

The impact of trauma can vary and may depend on certain factors such as your genetics, background and family history.

However, a common thread often observed in trauma survivors is the wide-ranging physical and emotional consequences.

Let’s explore these impacts further.

1. Your physical health

Research literature has shown how trauma can have a significant impact on your physical health and well-being.

For example, chronic stress due to ongoing trauma may contribute to physical health issues, including weakened immune function, cardiovascular problems, and increased vulnerability to other health conditions such as diabetes and muscle tension.

Moreover, if you have experienced trauma, you may develop unhealthy coping mechanisms to help you manage or cope with unpleasant symptoms and emotions.

These coping mechanisms may include substance abuse or other addictive behaviours like gambling or internet gaming.

As tempting as they can be, these behaviour patterns further impact your physical health and may lead to addiction, particularly when left untreated. 

If you are in treatment for trauma, your therapist or physician must provide an integrative physical and mental health treatment approach.

These combined approaches may involve mindfulness, behavioural therapy, and specific activities such as equine therapy, healthy diet changes, and regular exercise.

Studies show that an integrated treatment approach to trauma recovery gives you a much better chance at long-lasting wellness and healing than standalone treatment methods.

2. Your emotional health 

Trauma can have a detrimental impact on your emotional health and well-being.

For instance, you may experience a range of responses like heightened anxiety, mood swings, depression, and emotional numbness after a traumatic event.

It’s also common for those who have experienced trauma to struggle with self-esteem, trust, and regulating their emotions. 

Tired melancholic teenagegirl uses mobile phone while lying in bed

Fortunately, trauma treatment programs such as EMDR and cognitive behavioural therapy can help you to develop healthy coping mechanisms and teach you different ways of looking at your past experiences so they no longer have such a negative impact on your life.

Seeking help and support from an experienced mental health professional is crucial for lasting healing and well-being after trauma.

Contact our friendly team today, who will provide you with the resources and information you need to make an informed decision about your treatment and recovery.

3. Your perceptions and worldview

In addition to the physical and emotional effects, research shows how trauma can negatively influence how you see yourself, the world, and others.

This perspective shift can lead to various unhealthy coping mechanisms and unhelpful behaviours such as drug or alcohol addiction, behavioural addictions and, in some cases, disordered eating.

Amy Canevello, a psychology professor at the University of North Carolina, US, describes how trauma can negatively influence our worldly perceptions and views.

“Trauma shatters your worldview and disrupts your core beliefs. Post-traumatic growth, at least theoretically, is the result of you trying to put your worldview back together in a way that incorporates that traumatic event. You come out the other side looking different in some way.” (The complicated truth of post-traumatic growth, BBC Worklife, David Robson, 14 March, 2022.)

4. Your sense of safety

Trauma can also affect your sense of safety. 

For instance, a world that once felt safe may feel threatening and unpredictable after you experience something shocking or traumatic.

When we encounter a traumatic event or experience, our ideas about the world being a safe and secure place are often shattered.

Consequently, you may view a situation, person or place as threatening or scary. 

Places or situations you once felt secure in may now feel threatening and anxiety-provoking. This is especially likely to occur in situations or places that remind you of your traumatic event. (What Is Trauma? Verywell mind, Matthew Tull, PhD, 6 February, 2023.) 

Seeking help and support from a trained professional can be crucial for processing and healing from the adverse effects of trauma, allowing you to reframe how you see your experiences and move closer toward acceptance, empowerment and resilience.

Trauma symptoms

There is no “normal” versus “abnormal” set of reactions or responses to trauma and how one person experiences trauma symptoms can be entirely different to someone else.

young adult man sitting on the floor and waiting in train station – vacation, loneliness, metropolitan

However, broadly, there are some common symptoms that many experience after a traumatic event, including:

  • Flashbacks
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sleep disturbance 
  • Difficulties in forming and maintaining relationships
  • Avoidance behaviours, including avoiding people, places, or situations that remind you of what happened
  • Substance abuse to cope with trauma symptoms and any other unpleasant feelings and emotions
  • Intrusive thoughts and memories
  • Hypervigilance
  • Hyperarousal
  • Feeling on edge, nervous, or unsafe

It’s crucial to note that having the above symptoms does not always mean that you have PTSD, only a trained professional can provide a formal diagnosis based on your symptoms, behaviours, and other factors.

Trauma treatment 

If you have experienced a traumatic event, talking with a licensed therapist can help you make sense of your experiences and understand your symptoms.

Your therapist or counsellor may suggest a range of different trauma treatments based on your history, severity of symptoms, and medical background.

As mentioned already, an integrated approach to trauma recovery is the most effective as it focuses on treating your symptoms and underlying cause (s), providing a comprehensive, individualised approach to recovery. 

The most effective trauma treatments include the following:

How Camino Recovery can help

Difference between PTSD and C-PTSD - Camino Recovery

Camino Recovery provides personalised addiction and mental health treatment to clients in Spain and the United Kingdom. 

We provide specialised trauma-informed care for individuals looking to heal from trauma. 

This includes our pioneering trauma treatment, EMDR, which helps to release trapped emotions and memories stored in the body and the nervous system, enabling the brain to process and metabolise the traumatic experience(s) successfully.

Our team works compassionately with clients, gently helping them to revisit traumatic memories and experience them in a new, more empowering way.

To learn more about our specialised trauma treatment programs, contact a specialist at Camino Recovery today for further support and information.

We know how challenging it can be to take those initial steps to recovery. 

However, we are here and ready to guide you through your path to recovery and, ultimately, lasting wellness, empowerment and transformation.

Please speak to our friendly team today.

Additional resources

1. The complicated truth of post-traumatic growth, BBC Worklife, David Robson, 14 March, 2022
2. What Is Trauma? Verywell mind, Matthew Tull, PhD, 6 February, 2023

David Scourfield

David Scourfield is a Camino Recovery team member since 2017, focused on facilitating communication with Clinical and other professionals to ensure a comprehensive understanding of Camino's program.

Combining his marketing skills and lived experiences, he joined Camino in 2017, contributing to external publications and the Camino website. With a strong belief in solidarity during the recovery process, David helps clients build support networks by connecting them with others in recovery.

More from David Scourfield

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