What is Trauma:

Trauma is a psychological, emotional response to a profoundly destressing or disturbing event or experience. When a person experiences intense fear, threat or stress it can become so overwhelming that it affects an individual’s sense of self, ability to cope and/or can cause feelings of hopelessness. A traumatic experience could include a one-time (acute), multiple (chronic), or long-lasting repetitive events (complex trauma) which may all illicit different modalities of treatment. Due to each person’s individuality and prior life experiences what is ‘considered traumatic’ is subjective and dependent on the individual experiences.

Trauma comes in many forms and shapes. Different trauma types could include but are not limited to

  • early childhood trauma

  • bullying

  • community violence

  • disasters, medical trauma

  • sexual abuse

  • physical abuse and/or neglect

  • being in an any oppressive environments

  • witnessing any kind of violence

  • Death of a loved one

  • Relationships where you were minimized or threatened

Understanding the impact of trauma: How an event affects someone depends on a person’s past experience and a multitude of other factors. However, generally speaking, when we don’t deal with our trauma it can have the power to influence how we are in relationships, how we parent, how we relate to our partners or family members, how we think, behave, or feel and how we perceive our world.

Overtime, the brain may have a difficult time processing certain events or how to respond. This may make it very difficult to maintain previous coping strategies and continuing to feel safe or secure within your person and the world around you. 

 

Possible impacts of trauma:

  1.  Intrusive thoughts-unwelcoming or distressing thoughts and memories or inability to stop focusing on what occurred

  2. Flashbacks- reliving aspects of a traumatic event or feeling as if it is happening now, which can happen whether or not you remember specific details of it.

  3. Panic attacks – a type of fear response. They're an exaggeration of your body's response to danger, stress or excitement

  4. Physical reactions to trauma-fatigue or exhaustion, nausea, vomiting or dizziness, headaches, stomach aches,

  5. Dissociations- a possible way your mind copes with overwhelming stress. Possibly feeling numb, spaced out, detached from your body or as though the world around you is unreal

  6. Hyperarousal – feeling very anxious, on edge and unable to relax. You might be constantly looking out for threats or danger.

  7. Sleep problems – you might find it hard to fall or stay asleep, feel unsafe at night, or feel anxious or afraid of having nightmares.

  8. Behavioral reactions to trauma-avoiding reminders of the event, changes in appetite such as eating a lot more or a lot less

  9. Low self-esteem  – trauma can affect the way you value and perceive yourself.

  10. Grief – experiencing a loss can be traumatic, including someone dying but also other types of loss. Many people experience grief as a result of how trauma has changed their lives. You might feel that trauma has caused you to miss out on some things in life, which can also lead to feelings of loss.

  11. Self-harm – hurting yourself as a way of trying to cope. This could include harming parts of your body that were attacked or injured during the trauma.

 

How do I know if I’ve experienced Trauma?

Here are a few questions that may be helpful but are not inclusive:

Trauma Questions:

  1. Are you feeling unsafe in places that are normally considered a safe space?

  2. Do you have intrusive thoughts that you just can’t seem to shake?

 

Finding Support After Trauma

When bad things happen, it can become difficult to get through the pain and fear and to feel safe again. When we heal from our trauma, we give ourselves the control of not allowing our past experiences to impact our futures.

People are extremely resilient. With the proper supports and healthy tools people are able to live healthy, fulfilling lives even after experiencing difficult life events. One key to healing is finding people who are supportive to you- these people can be a combination of friends, family, and professional. If any of this has resonated, consider taking the next step in this process and contact me. No one heals alone.