At some point in our lives, a majority of people can say they have experience at least one difficult situation, if not many. Depending on how they impact you, these difficult situations can be “traumas”. People often think of trauma in the traditional way it has been portrayed around us, such as coming back from war or enduring physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, but this is not an all-inclusive list. Trauma comes in many forms and can easily be overlooked. The significance of trauma does not lie in what happened but how it impacts you in your day to day life.
Types of trauma can include, but are not limited to:
- loss of a loved one or a pet
- domestic violence
- sexual abuse
- physical abuse
- emotional abuse and neglect
- car accident
- pain or injury
- natural disasters
- moving to a new place
- witnessing an injury, violence, or death
After the initial shock, trauma can leave you feeling numb, detached, hopeless, or depressed. You may also find yourself feeling more angry or irritable than usual, noticing sudden and dramatic mood changes, or discovering changes in your usual routine such as with sleep and appetite. Additionally, you may also notice yourself feeling more anxious, worrying the traumatic event will happen again, or becoming preoccupied with thoughts of what has occurred.
Do you find yourself avoiding people, things, or situations that remind you of the trauma?
Are you having difficulty concentrating or remembering things you previously did without issue?
Do you feel easily overwhelmed when stressors come your way?
Are you experiencing nightmares, flashbacks, or intrusive thoughts about the trauma?
You are not alone.
While some temporary difficulties coping and adjusting following a traumatic event are to be expected, for others, a traumatic event can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD symptoms can start within a month of the traumatic event or may not be present until years later. Trauma can alter how our brain functions and symptoms can vary from having difficulty trusting others to being constantly on edge and living with uncontrollable, anxiety-ridden thoughts. These symptoms can understandably create major problems in school, work, or relationships. They can also impact appetite, mood, sleep, and overall well being.
It may be a good idea to speak with a mental health professional if you notice symptoms getting worse, lasting for months or even years, and impacting your daily functioning. Effective treatment can be a critical component to reducing symptoms and improving your quality of life. With evidenced-based approaches such as cognitive behavior therapy or EMDR, feeling better is more than possible.