How Does Trauma Affect You?
Trauma can come about through life experiences like a breakup, a major life change, the death of a loved one, infidelity in a relationship, loss of a job, abuse in childhood, an experience of violence, discrimination, or racism and so much more.
Initial reactions to trauma can include exhaustion, confusion, sadness, anxiety, agitation, numbness, dissociation, confusion, physical arousal, and blunted affect.
Indicators of more severe responses include continuous distress without periods of relative calm or rest, severe dissociation symptoms, and intense intrusive recollections that continue despite a return to safety.
Delayed responses to trauma can include persistent fatigue, sleep disorders, nightmares, fear of recurrence, anxiety focused on flashbacks, depression, and avoidance of emotions, sensations, or activities that are associated with the trauma, even remotely.
It’s important to understand that trauma affects the body and the mind and if not treated can worsen symptoms over time.
The following examples reflect some of the types of cognitive or thought-process changes that can occur in response to traumatic stress.
Thinking errors: Misinterpreting a current situation as dangerous because it resembles, even remotely, a previous trauma.
Excessive or inappropriate guilt: Attempting to make sense cognitively and gain control over a traumatic experience by assuming responsibility or possessing survivor’s guilt, because others who experienced the same trauma did not survive.
Idealization: Idealization is when someone convinces themselves that something or someone was and/or is better than they were or are. Or at least not as bad. It is a coping method used to avoid the seemingly overbearing pain of facing the truth – of looking at the wound of such as a trauma.
Trauma-induced hallucinations or delusions: Experiencing hallucinations and delusions that, although they are biological in origin, contain cognitions that are congruent with trauma content (e.g., a woman believes that a person stepping onto her bus is her father, who had sexually abused her repeatedly as child, because he wore shoes like those her father once wore).
Intrusive thoughts and memories: Experiencing, without warning or desire, thoughts and memories associated with the trauma. These intrusive thoughts and memories can easily trigger strong emotional and behavioral reactions, as if the trauma was recurring in the present. The intrusive thoughts and memories can come rapidly, referred to as flooding, and can be disruptive at the time of their occurrence. If an individual experiences a trigger, he or she may have an increase in intrusive thoughts and memories for a while.
So, what can you do to help heal from your trauma? Some ways that can help is acknowledging your emotions, working through your trauma, making intentional movements, and practicing stillness. Some examples of this is engaging in dance, yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, listening to calming music and progressive muscle relaxation. It is exploring any emotional ‘baggage’ you may have by using different techniques. To receive a better understanding on how to heal and use these techniques click ‘schedule an appointment’ to receive a 15-minute consultation with a counselor from a Trauma Therapy Company counselor.