What is Trauma?
When people hear the word ‘trauma’, several things probably come to mind, and many people might have a different view on what it is. A lack of cohesive understanding around trauma, the causes, symptoms and treatments can make it harder for people facing this mental health issue to find the help and support they need.
Please keep reading for an in-depth round-up of the key information you need to know about trauma. Whether you worry you face trauma symptoms yourself or are concerned about a loved one or friend, this blog can help you learn the vital knowledge you need to overcome this psychological barrier.
What is Trauma?
Trauma can be defined as going through a very stressful, frightening or distressing event. Often you might hear it called emotional or psychological trauma, and by this, people might mean situations or events we find traumatic or how we are affected by our experiences.
We can be affected by trauma at any age, as we don’t have control over when these traumatic events or experiences may occur. However, no matter when they occur, we know that they can cause long-lasting harm to our mental health and happiness. As all of us have different reactions to trauma, we might not even realise we suffer from it until months or years after an event.
Trauma can be an event or experience where you feel frightened, threatened, humiliated, abandoned, unsafe, unsupported, trapped, ashamed or powerless. There’s no limit to how many different emotions you can feel in that moment, and often people face a multitude during a traumatic event. The types of events and situations where these emotions can arise include being directly harmed, witnessing harm to someone else, living in a traumatic atmosphere or being affected by trauma in a family or community.
People who suffer further trauma after an initial experience or event can have their existing problems worsen. It’s essential that no matter the circumstances – when the trauma happened and how many times – people facing trauma need to understand why they respond in specific ways and the help they can find to overcome their trauma for good.
What are the Symptoms of Trauma?
Those suffering from trauma must realise that their reactions are common and expected. This person has survived a traumatic event, and therefore shouldn’t feel like how they respond to it is inappropriate or unwarranted.
Trauma can cause many psychological and physical symptoms and behaviours and directly cause mental health problems. Some conditions known to develop as a result of trauma include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Some of the psychological symptoms of trauma include:
- Confusion and difficulty concentrating
- Shock, denial or disbelief
- Anger and mood swings
- Constant anxiety and fear
- Feelings of guilt, shame and self-blame
- Feeling sad and hopeless
- Feeling disconnected and numb
- Vivid flashbacks of the event (like the trauma is happening again)
- Invasive and disturbing thoughts or images
- Intense distress at real or symbolic reminders of the trauma
Physical and behavioural symptoms and signs of trauma include:
- Isolation and withdrawal from others
- Physical sensations such as pain, sweating, nausea or trembling
- Avoidance of activities, places or events which trigger memories
- Lack of interest in activities previously enjoyed
- Can be easily startled and scared
- Can suffer from insomnia
- Changes in eating and sleeping patterns
- Always alert and on the lookout for danger
EMDR Therapy for Trauma
EMDR therapy is an innovative and focused approach approved by the NHS and WHO (World Health Organisation) to treat PTSD. It is scientifically proven to desensitise the brain’s axis and cortexes, which cause stress, through an interactive psychotherapy technique. This allows the client to relive and recall traumatic events with their therapist without becoming overwhelmed with emotion or anxiety. The process of reliving disturbing events is more manageable because you are simultaneously focusing on an external stimulus. As a result, your emotional stability is levelled, and your mind is taught not to respond to recalling trauma with strong psychological reactions.
Please take a look at my website to learn more about how I can support your mental health journey by overcoming trauma. Accepting trauma and reliving the events to overcome its hold over your life and mental health can be a daunting task. However, by working with a qualified, compassionate and expert therapist like myself, the task can be more approachable and successful.