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Trauma 

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What is trauma?

Have you ever wondered why certain events leave a deep mark on us, changing how we feel and act? This is often due to trauma, a response to very stressful or disturbing events that overwhelm our ability to cope.

Trauma happens when we go through something extraordinarily stressful or upsetting that's too much for us to handle at the moment. These experiences can be one-time events or something that keeps happening over time. Most people will face something traumatic at some point in their lives. However, not everyone reacts to trauma in the same way. It doesn't matter how old you are or how much time has passed since the event; trauma can affect anyone at any time.

What counts as traumatic can vary because what deeply affects one person might not affect another in the same way. Traumatic experiences in early life, like abuse, neglect, or major disruptions in family life, can have a huge and lasting impact. Similarly, experiences later in life that we can't control—such as serious accidents, being a victim of violence, abuse, surviving a natural disaster, going through a war, or suddenly losing someone close—can also be deeply traumatic.

Signs & Symptoms of Trauma

Traumatic events can vary widely but often fall into one of several categories:

Recent Acute Trauma: This could be a single, recent event like a car crash or a violent assault.

Historical Trauma: Events that occurred in the past, such as a sexual assault, the death of a loved one, an accident, surviving a natural disaster, or experiencing war.

Chronic Trauma: Ongoing, repeated experiences such as childhood neglect or long-term sexual or physical abuse.

 

After experiencing a traumatic event, a person may develop symptoms that lead to different forms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):

Simple PTSD: Typically results from a single traumatic event. Individuals may experience flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety that are directly tied to one specific incident.

Complex PTSD: Often stems from prolonged, repeated trauma, particularly in situations where escape is not possible (such as in childhood abuse). This can lead to difficulties in emotional regulation, distrust in relationships, and a persistent sense of threat or danger. It's sometimes referred to in children as "developmental trauma," impacting their emotional growth and development.

Treatment of Trauma 

Understanding the type of trauma experienced can be essential in providing the appropriate support and treatment. It is also crucial to understand that not every person experiencing trauma will have the same symptoms, and the severity of symptoms can range from mild to disabling. Symptoms may not appear immediately after the trauma and can emerge years later, often triggered by another life event or stressor. It is important to note that family members or caregivers of those who have experienced traumatic events can also develop symptoms of trauma themselves, known as secondary or vicarious trauma. Trauma can also be passed on generationally.

Helping Heal Trauma

There are several ways to help people move past trauma. Talk therapy combined with body therapies such as meditation and somatic therapy can be highly beneficial in dealing with trauma. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is considered the gold standard therapy for treating emotions, thoughts, sensations, and images. Play Therapy is especially effective for children, using play to enable them to express their emotions and heal. Additionally, yoga and trauma-informed physiotherapy practices can also be helpful in the healing process.

 

Trauma might be a part of life, but it doesn’t have to define it. Understanding what trauma is, spotting its signs, and knowing how to seek help are vital steps in overcoming its impact. Whether it’s for you or someone you care about, finding the right support and treatment can pave the path to healing.

References: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/trauma/about-trauma/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK207191 /https://www.camh.ca/en/health-info/mental-illness-and-addiction-index/trauma  https://www.apa.org/topics/trauma#:~:text=Trauma%20is%20an%20emotional%20response,symptoms%20like%20headaches%20or%20nausea.

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