When To Get Help
It is essential to seek help immediately after experiencing trauma, even if the individual is not sure that they will need it. It is better to speak to a professional trauma counselor or mental health professional to ensure that symptoms do not worsen. Even those with mild symptoms can feel better if talking to someone about their experience.
Getting help for trauma is even more imperative if trauma symptoms persist or become more severe.
What Should You Do After Trauma
The first step is to acknowledge that youâve gone through trauma and accept that your emotions might be affected.
After that, you can:
Reach out to a health care professional like your doctor, nurse, or therapist. âLet them know what happened and how youâre feeling about it,â Choi says. They may be able to provide resources that can help you feel better.
Focus on easing stress, because stress can make the aftereffects of trauma more intense. Good ways to ease stress include:
- Spending time with family, friends, and people in your community
If possible, ask your loved ones for support. âTrauma often heals with the help of relationships, so feeling connected to others is really beneficial,â Choi says.
Consider a support group. Talking to other people who have gone through trauma can help you feel less alone. You might learn tips on how to feel better.
Try to maintain healthy routines. Eating, sleeping, and exercising on a regular schedule can ease stress and give you more control over your life. Thatâs important, because traumatic events can make you feel like you lost control.
Give it time. Few people âbounce backâ right after trauma. Take the time you need, and do what you feel you should in order to heal.
Can The Effects Of Trauma Be Avoided Or Addressed
Protective factors, such as supportive relationships with family members, a teacher, or others in the community, can help shield individuals from the effects of trauma and build resilience to help overcome adversity and confront challenges. Trauma-informed approaches to care, including relational healing and trauma-specific treatments, can help patients begin processing their experiences in a healthy way.
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Exposure To School Violence
One form of trauma thats being acknowledged more is exposure to school violence.
One particular form of school violence that is on the rise is cyberbullying. One 2017 study found that 15% of high school students have experienced cyberbullying in the last twelve months.
Experiencing abuse or trauma at a younger age puts you at a higher risk for other mental health problems including addiction, depression, PTSD and anxiety. Some of the symptoms of trauma can often look like other problems such as ADHD or inattentiveness at school.
Emerging Forms Of Psychological Trauma
Trauma is complex. Often we experience many traumas across our life, or come from a family replete with trauma. New ways of looking at trauma have been surfacing.
One of these is intergenerational trauma, also called historical trauma or transgenerational trauma. This is where one generation experiences such severe trauma that following generations show the symptoms of trauma. This can be seen in stories of the children of Holocaust survivors, for example.
Another important field of study is trauma in children. There are children who experience terrible repeat traumas in childhood, but might not fit the rigid definitions of child PTSD, or are poorly diagnosed and dont receive the help they need.
Many child psychologists and psychiatristsfiercely argue that a new trauma diagnosis is desperately required for such children, suggesting terms like developmental trauma disorder. Sadly this was not included in the recent version of the DSM.
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Being Physically Attacked Or Assaulted
A physical attack or an assault can teach you that the world isnt a safe place. When your body is harmed physically it leaves a lasting impact.
Physical harm can lead to symptoms referred to as flashbacks. A flashback occurs when your body and mind lose track of reality and you relive something painful from your past.
These types of situations can be experienced as a sudden flash of rage when you feel threatened by something or crippling fear when you feel youre in danger.
Your physical responses are one of the main things affected by a trauma. Your body doesnt want to get hurt so it goes on high alert looking for any sign of possible danger. Its a very uncomfortable way to go through the world.
Physical assault happens more frequently than you might expect. One study found that 1 in 4 high school students has been in at least one physical fight.
Helping A Loved One Deal With Trauma
When a loved one has suffered trauma, your support can play a crucial role in their recovery.
Be patient and understanding. Healing from trauma takes time. Be patient with the pace of recovery and remember that everyones response to trauma is different. Dont judge your loved ones reaction against your own response or anyone elses.
Offer practical support to help your loved one get back into a normal routine. That may mean helping with collecting groceries or doing housework, for example, or simply being available to talk or listen.
Dont pressure your loved one into talking but be available if they want to talk. Some trauma survivors find it difficult to talk about what happened. Dont force your loved one to open up but let them know you are there to listen if they want to talk, or available to just hang out if they dont.
Help your loved one to socialize and relax. Encourage them to participate in physical exercise, seek out friends, and pursue hobbies and other activities that bring them pleasure. Take a fitness class together or set a regular lunch date with friends.
Dont take the trauma symptoms personally. Your loved one may become angry, irritable, withdrawn, or emotionally distant. Remember that this is a result of the trauma and may not have anything to do with you or your relationship.
How children react to emotional and psychological trauma
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What Experiences Might Be Traumatic
What’s traumatic is personal. Other people can’t know how you feel about your own experiences or if they were traumatic for you. You might have similar experiences to someone else, but be affected differently.
Trauma can include events where you feel:
Ways trauma can happen include:
- one-off or ongoing events
- witnessing harm to someone else
- living in a traumatic atmosphere
- being affected by trauma in a family or community.
Your experience of trauma might relate to parts of your identity, including if you’ve been harassed, bullied or discriminated against. If you’ve experienced trauma and identify as LGBTIQ+, our information on LGBTIQ+ mental health may be helpful for you.
Experiencing Spiritual Or Religious Abuse
One of type of trauma that doesnt get talked about very often is spiritual or religious abuse.
This type of abuse happens when religion is used to control or manipulate you. Spirituality is a very personal experience for many people and it can be easy to hide this form of abuse.
One example of religious trauma is a parent not providing you with proper medical care when youre sick because they believe that God or prayer would heal you.
Religious abuse has occurred for some people in the LGBTQ community through forms of therapy such as conversion therapy or sending you to an organization with the goal of changing your sexual orientation.
Any form of trauma whether it is spiritual, physical, mental, or emotional has an impact on how you feel and how you experience the world.
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What Are The Signs Of A Person Suffering From Trauma
While the causes and symptoms of trauma are various, there are some basic signs of trauma that you can look out for. People who have endured traumatic events will often appear shaken and disoriented. They may not respond to conversation as they normally would and will often appear withdrawn or not present even when speaking.
Another telltale sign of a trauma victim is anxiety. Anxiety due to trauma can manifest in problems such as night terrors, edginess, irritability, poor concentration and mood swings. While these symptoms of trauma are common, they are not exhaustive. Individuals respond to trauma in different ways. Sometimes trauma is virtually unnoticeable even to the victims closest friends and family. These cases illustrate the importance of talking to someone after a traumatic event has occurred, even if they show no initial signs of disturbance. Trauma can manifest days, months or even years after the actual event.
Why Does The Definition Of Trauma Matter So Much
It matters a lot for those who are trying to get an official diagnosis so they can access the help they need. If, for example, someone needed a PTSD diagnosis to receive government benefits and access to funded therapy, then it can be very disappointing if their trauma is not deemed diagnosable.
If you have the symptoms of trauma but dont qualify for an official diagnosis of PTSD, do not give up on finding support. Trauma can leave many struggling with work and day-to-day life, which can also affect their finances. Read our article on free or low cost counselling and continue to seek help.
Psychological trauma is treatable, and the right support can mean you finally start to feel yourself again. A good counsellor or psychotherapist works with you to alleviate the symptoms and get to the root of your trauma. If any therapist belittles your sense of being traumatised, or claims that your trauma was not serious enough, its likely time to seek a better therapist.
Harley Therapy can connect you with London-based psychotherapists and counselling psychologists who are highly experienced at dealing with PTSD and emotional shock. Not in London? Consider Skype therapy, as flexible as you are.
Situations That Can Traumatize A Child
- Physical or sexual abuse
- Abandonment, betrayal of trust , or neglect
- The death or loss of a loved one
- Life-threatening illness in a caregiver
- Automobile accidents or other serious accidents
- Witnessing domestic violence
- Life-threatening health situations and/or painful medical procedures
- Witnessing or experiencing community violence
- Witnessing police activity or having a close relative incarcerated
- Life-threatening natural disasters
- Acts or threats of terrorism
What Counts As Trauma
Have you ever had symptoms, beliefs and behaviors that you cant explain, and because of that, blame yourself for them? In my practice, I encounter this frequently. I will meet people who suffer from some combination of low self-esteem, depression, substance abuse, chronic relationship difficulties, emotional numbness, codependence, chronic shame, fatigue, or almost any other psychological malady, and because they cant understand their experiences, they think of them as character flaws. Ill often hear something along the lines of, It doesnt make sense why Im like this. Ive had a decent life and upbringing. Its not like I have any major trauma or anything.
Many people never receive the help that they need because they think they shouldnt need help. This attitude almost always stems from two sources: First, a unconscious core belief that they dont deserve to feel better, and Second, a belief that only those who have suffered extraordinarily awful life events need professional help . This combination often leads people to continue suffering silently, with inner commentary that is self-critical.
Different Forms of Trauma
I wish that we had even rudimentary mental health education in our public school system, to help combat the misunderstandings that inevitably come from mass media and pop psychology.
Emotional Safety = Survival
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Factors That Contribute To Childhood Trauma
For children and teens, certain factors increase the risk of trauma, which can be caused by a one-time event or an ongoing pattern of behavior. Abuse physical, emotional, and sexual and neglect are some of the most common causes of childhood trauma. Domestic or neighborhood violence, bullying, or the death of a loved one may also lead to feelings of fear and helplessness.
Chicago Behavioral Hospital offers comprehensive, individualized trauma treatment. A patients therapy plan may include inpatient services, partial hospitalization, and/or intensive outpatient emotional trauma trauma counseling.
Behavioral Symptoms Related To Shock Trauma
After going through shock trauma, children, teens, and adults are likely to withdraw from family, friends, and activities they once enjoyed or to avoid people and places that remind them of the traumatic event. Compulsions and impulsive or self-destructive behaviors, such as drug and alcohol use and eating disorders, are common, too. Children and teens who are struggling to process trauma may become hostile and argumentative, or you may notice a sudden change in their peer group.
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Commonly Understood Causes Of Trauma:
- Terrorist attacks
- Bullying or harassment
- Career changes
Trauma can come from any number of experiences, including ones that we dont think of as traumatic. Trauma is defined asa psychological, emotional response to an event or an experience that is deeply distressing or disturbing. In reality, trauma can come from any experience that makes us feel unsafe, physically or emotionally, and that disrupts the way we cope or function. Your life doesnt need to be in danger to feel traumatized. You may also find that you have a different reaction to an event that someone else also went through. Remember, everyone reacts differently to situations, and your reaction is valid, even if it looks different from someone elses.
Trauma Symptoms Causes And Effects
Trauma is defined by the American Psychological Association as the emotional response someone has to an extremely negative event. While trauma is a normal reaction to a horrible event, the effects can be so severe that they interfere with an individuals ability to live a normal life. In a case such as this, help may be needed to treat the stress and dysfunction caused by the traumatic event and to restore the individual to a state of emotional well-being.
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What Is Emotional Traumaand How Does It Work
While not everyone has seen wartime combat or experienced another life-threatening scenario, anyone can find themselves in a situation that could result in emotional trauma. “Emotional trauma can result from any type of traumatic experience that causes overwhelming amounts of stress that exceed one’s ability to cope and integrate the emotions involved,” LeBlanc explains. “This last part is key: Emotional trauma is more about the nervous system’s ability to regulate stress and integrate emotions than it is about the actual event.”
Though it’s entirely possible for emotional trauma to occur as a result of a physically traumatic event, like an accident, assault, or death, it can also result from an experience where there was no physical harm, like harassment, neglect, verbal abuse, manipulation, or parental separation, says LeBlanc.
Additionally, emotional traumas are often more complex than other types of stressors and can often persist far after the acute situation or relationship has ended, according to Fried. “Sometimes these types of reactions are in response to situations that may seem out of the person’s control and/or dangerous, such as interactions with unpredictable people or unstable and dynamic situations,” he explains. “These situations can include intense relationships with others that include some element of psychological abuse, such with a controlling significant other or a boss who constantly belittles and is demeaning.”
Advice To Counselors: Universal Screening And Assessment
Only people specifically trained and licensed in mental health assessment should make diagnoses trauma can result in complicated cases, and many symptoms can be present, whether or not they meet full diagnostic criteria for a specific disorder. Only a trained assessor can distinguish accurately among various symptoms and in the presence of co-occurring disorders. However, behavioral health professionals without specific assessment training can still serve an important role in screening for possible mental disorders using established screening tools . In agencies and clinics, it is critical to provide such screenings systematicallyfor each clientas PTSD and other co-occurring disorders are typically under diagnosed or misdiagnosed.
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Common Experiences And Responses To Trauma
A variety of reactions are often reported and/or observed after trauma. Most survivors exhibit immediate reactions, yet these typically resolve without severe long-term consequences. This is because most trauma survivors are highly resilient and develop appropriate coping strategies, including the use of social supports, to deal with the aftermath and effects of trauma. Most recover with time, show minimal distress, and function effectively across major life areas and developmental stages. Even so, clients who show little impairment may still have subclinical symptoms or symptoms that do not fit diagnostic criteria for acute stress disorder or PTSD. Only a small percentage of people with a history of trauma show impairment and symptoms that meet criteria for trauma-related stress disorders, including mood and anxiety disorders.
The following sections focus on some common reactions across domains associated with singular, multiple, and enduring traumatic events. These reactions are often normal responses to trauma but can still be distressing to experience. Such responses are not signs of mental illness, nor do they indicate a mental disorder. Traumatic stress-related disorders comprise a specific constellation of symptoms and criteria.
Symptoms Of Emotional Trauma
In observing and reviewing responses to trauma it is important to remember that they are NORMAL reactions to ABNORMAL events. There is no right or wrong way to feel or react to these situations. We all think differently and have different perspectives, conditioning, physical and emotional reactions. Emotional & psychological symptoms:
- Shock, denial, or disbelief
- Muscle tension
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