The Effects of Trauma

The Effects of Trauma

The effects of trauma are wide-ranging and can be long-lasting. 

It can often be difficult to assess the difference between Trauma, Anxiety, and Depression because of how varied the symptoms can be when working with trauma. 

With the way the word is used currently, as a buzzword, people talk about things being traumatic all the time.

In many cases, this could be true, but in a lot of other cases, the experience was probably uncomfortable or even distressing but likely not traumatizing.

Today we'll be diving into the definition of "trauma" as well as the effects trauma can have on mood and behavior.

Hopefully, by shedding light on the effects of trauma we can foster a sense of support and understanding. 

Especially if a loved one you know, or you yourself, have been through a traumatic experience.

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What is Trauma?

It's important to know that not all uncomfortable and distressing experiences are traumatic. 

Trauma has more to do with how you were changed after the event than the event in and of itself.

But there are still defining features for what constitutes a traumatic experience from diagnostic criteria. 

Let's go through what those criteria are, the occurrence is considered traumatic if you were exposed to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence. 

"Exposure" is fairly broad so let's break that down now:

1) Experiencing the event first-hand

2) Witnessing it happen, in person

3) Learning that the event happened to a family member or close friend OR

4) Experiencing repeated exposure to aversive details of the traumatic event 

So, from a diagnostic perspective for something to qualify as a traumatic experience, it must meet this criterion first. 

This is what separates trauma from a distressing episode or uncomfortable situation.

This is not to downplay distressing and uncomfortable situations, at all!

It simply means that if other events are affecting you to a great degree then chances are there is a more appropriate treatment method than how trauma is treated. 

The Effects of Trauma

As I mentioned above the effects of trauma are varied.

They largely depend on the person, their resiliency, upbringing, and overall view of life.

Here are a few effects of trauma that are most common:

1) Regular, intrusive, and distressing thoughts about the traumatic event or dreams related to it

2) Flashbacks or marked distress when exposed to cues that serve as symbols of the trauma

3) Persistent efforts to avoid distressing memories or external reminders

4) Negative alterations in thought and in moods such as inability to remember certain details about the event, persistent distorted thoughts about the world or self, feelings of consistent fear, guilt, anger, or a loss of interest in significant activities 

5) Change in arousal or reactivity such as hypervigilance, irritability, recklessness, intense startle response, or sleep disturbances

After experiencing a traumatic event some people experience almost all of these symptoms, while others only experience a couple.

What makes the effects of trauma difficult to assess is that many of the above symptoms are also found in depressive disorders, as well as anxiety disorders. 

The effects of trauma cause changes to the person's behaviors and moods which could effectively make that person nearly unrecognizable to their friends and families. 

Healing Trauma

All the effects of trauma listed above can be healed.

In fact, the trauma response is completely natural and it's what everyone goes through during distressing periods.

The difference is that, with trauma, our minds and bodies can't move past events.

That's where therapy comes in.

Trauma can absolutely be healed.

Talk therapy as well as somatic therapy and treatment approaches such as EMDR have been proven to resolve trauma.

There are so many resources and such excellent research on trauma that there is no reason you should suffer for a moment longer.

Reach out to a mental health provider and start healing the effects of trauma.

Conclusion

The effects of trauma are wide-ranging and can be long-term.

However, there is more information than ever before about how to treat trauma.

We've looked at what trauma is.

We know some of the ways trauma impacts a person's ways of thinking and feeling.

Now is the time to take action. 

Trauma can be resolved, it can be healed, and you can return to your daily life feeling confident and unafraid. 

Take that step for your past self, your present self, and your future self.

Contact a mental health care provider today and start healing your trauma.

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January 28th, 2023