Trauma & Post-Traumatic Stress

Trauma is your mind and body’s response to a deeply distressing or disturbing event that overwhelms your nervous system.

Traumatic experiences may cause feelings of helplessness, diminish your sense of self, and shatter your sense of security. Psychological trauma can leave you fighting to deal with upsetting emotions, memories, and anxiety. It may also result in feeling numb, disconnected, and unable to trust or rely on others.

Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety; however, any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and alone can result in trauma, even if it doesn’t affect you physically. It’s not the objective circumstances that determine whether an event is traumatic, but your emotional reaction to the event. The more scared and helpless you feel during an experience, the more likely you will be traumatized.

Symptoms of Trauma

We all react to trauma in different ways, experiencing a wide range of physical and emotional reactions. Emotional & psychological symptoms may include:

  • Shock, denial, or disbelief
  • Confusion, difficulty concentrating
  • Anger, irritability, mood swings
  • Anxiety and fear
  • Guilt, shame, self-blame
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Feeling sad or hopeless
  • Feeling disconnected or numb
  • Insomnia or nightmares
  • Fatigue
  • Being startled easily
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Edginess and agitation
  • Aches and pains
  • Muscle tension

Childhood Trauma

Experiencing trauma in childhood can result in a problematic and long-lasting effect. Childhood trauma can create a sense of fear and helplessness that carries over into adulthood. Childhood trauma can result from anything that disrupts a child’s sense of safety, including:

  • An unstable or unsafe environment
  • Separation from a parent
  • Serious illness
  • Sexual, physical, or verbal abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • Neglect

Healing from Trauma

Sometimes people survive these experiences and recover quickly. But often, these events cause deep emotional wounds that require professional support and intervention. When trauma goes unresolved, it leads to posttraumatic stress (PTSD) disorder. When someone has multiple posttraumatic stress reactions, we call it Complex Posttraumatic Stress (CPTSD).

CPTSD and PTSD are (unfortunately) common mental health challenges that can affect anyone who has experienced or witnessed a distressing event.  You may feel overwhelmed, anxious, angry, or numb. You may have nightmares, flashbacks, or intrusive thoughts that make it hard to enjoy life. You may feel isolated, misunderstood, or ashamed of what happened to you.

But it doesn’t have to stay that way.

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