Trauma involves either a single experience, or an enduring or repeating event or events, that completely overwhelm the individual’s ability to cope or integrate the ideas and emotions involved with that experience.
The sense of being overwhelmed can be delayed by weeks, years or even decades, as the person struggles to cope with the immediate circumstances. Psychological trauma can lead to serious long-term negative consequences.
Trauma can be caused by a wide variety of events, but there are a few common aspects. There is frequently a violation of the person’s familiar ideas about the world and of their human rights, putting the person in a state of extreme confusion and insecurity.
It is common for people who have experienced traumatic situations to have very strong emotional reactions. There may be no outwardly visible signs of physical injury, but there is nonetheless a serious emotional toll.
Understanding normal responses to these abnormal events can aid you in coping effectively with your feelings, thoughts and behaviors, and help you along the path to recovery.
Emotional and psychological symptoms of trauma:
- Shock, denial, or disbelief
- Anger, irritability, mood swings
- Guilt, shame, self-blame
- Feeling sad or hopeless
- Confusion, difficulty concentrating
- Anxiety and fear
- Withdrawing from others
- Feeling disconnected or numb
Physical symptoms of trauma:
- Insomnia or nightmares
- Being startled easily
- Racing heartbeat
- Aches and pains
- Difficulty concentrating
- Edginess and agitation
- Muscle tension
Working through trauma can be scary and painful. It is important to find someone you trust and feel comfortable with in order to help you resolve the unbearable feelings and memories.