What is trauma?
When you witness or experience any frightening, shocking, or distressing event, the effects are often called trauma. Psychological or emotional trauma can be any situation that you find traumatic, but it can also refer to how you’re affected after the experience.
Traumatic events can happen to anyone anytime, and the effects can be life-changing. Physical effects of trauma, such as personal injury, can heal relatively quickly. Still, the psychological trauma can stay for much longer or even remain hidden until triggered by an unconnected event years later.
It’s common for almost everyone to go through some kind of traumatic event and everyone will react differently. But whatever the trauma is, it’s the lasting impression it can make and the inability to deal with or understand the complex emotions surrounding it that can be difficult to overcome.
What is a traumatic experience?
Whatever you find traumatic is deeply personal – what might be traumatic for you might not be for someone else. But even if you suffer a similar trauma to someone else, you may both be affected differently.
- One-off events such as a car crash, shooting, or stabbing
- A physical or sexual assault or attack
- Natural disasters such as a hurricane, floods, or fire
- Domestic abuse or violence
- The sudden death of a loved friend or family member
These types of trauma can lead to mental health problems such as anxiety, stress, or depression further down the line or make you more susceptible to developing them.
Symptoms of trauma
Any symptoms you experience as a result of trauma can vary from person to person. The severity of symptoms might also depend on the level and type of trauma you’ve experienced, when it happened, or how you coped with it at the time.
If you’ve experienced a traumatic event, you may be suffering from some of the following symptoms:
- Shock, denial, or disbelief
- Anger, short temper, mood swings
- Feelings of blame, sadness, or helplessness
- Feeling isolated or withdrawn
- Concentration difficulties or confusion
- Anxiety, guilt, or shame
- Feeling disconnected or stunned
- Insomnia, flashbacks, or nightmares
- Intrusive thoughts or images
- Easily frightened or agitated
- A racing heartbeat, sweating, or trembling
- Aches, pains, muscle tension, or fatigue
Some trauma symptoms can sometimes lead to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
How to cope with trauma
It’s important to recognise when you’re finding it difficult to cope, specific actions that can help you deal with the trauma you’ve suffered might be simple, yet effective.
These can include:
- Attending self-help groups for group talking therapy
- Looking to close friends or family members for support
- Prioritising self-care and wellbeing
- Facing your feelings rather than avoiding them
While these will be a good start for you in overcoming your experiences, you should always seek medical advice from your GP. You may be referred to a mental health professional, counsellor, or psychotherapist who can help you find coping strategies to help your recovery.
Trauma counselling & psychotherapy
Working together, we can help bring calm and balance back into your life, cope with any negative feelings you’re having, and put a plan together that will help you back to full recovery. If you’re based in Exeter or Torbay, our trauma counselling will give you the help and support you need and deserve.
Our counselling and therapy sessions can cover:
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