Trauma is the emotional response that you have from events that are physically or emotionally threatening and can affect you immediately after the event or years later. Trauma can make you feel helpless, anxious, shocked, overwhelmed, and can make it feel impossible to process your experience.
Types of trauma include:
- Acute trauma can develop after one traumatic experience, which is any situation where you feel unsafe and severely stressed.
- Chronic trauma can develop after extended periods of repeated trauma. While the individual events may not be enough to cause acute trauma, the repetitive nature of the events has a build-up effect.
- Complex trauma can develop following exposure to several different types or sources of trauma. Similar to chronic trauma, complex trauma is formed by a build-up effect of various traumatic situations.
- Secondary/vicarious trauma is a less common type of trauma that causes a person to experience trauma symptoms after close contact to someone who has been traumatized. Family members, close friends, mental health professionals, and doctors are among those at high risk of experiencing secondary trauma.
Understanding A Person’s Response To a Traumatic Event
If left untreated, trauma can have severe long-term effects on your mental and physical wellbeing. Symptoms that persist indicate the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Symptoms Of Trauma
Trauma symptoms range anywhere from mild to severe, and each person will respond to traumatic events in their own way. There are multiple factors which contribute to the severity of their symptoms, which include:
- Their character and personality
- The presence/absence of other mental health conditions
- Exposure to previous traumatic events
- The type of traumatic event
- The characteristics of traumatic event
- Their approach to handling emotions
- The support systems they have in place
Emotional symptoms of trauma can be any combination of the following:
- Shame and guilt
- Sadness or depression
- Hopelessness and numbness
Someone processing trauma often experiences unpredictable emotional outbursts, has difficulty coping with what they’re feeling, and withdraws from those around them. Flashbacks and nightmares about the event are common.
Physical symptoms of trauma can include:
- Racing heart
- Feeling nervous and jumpy
- Digestive issues