The Oxford Dictionary defines trauma as a condition due to a serious shock, of which the harmful effects last for a long time. There are several different types of trauma, all affecting people in different ways and for different periods. The ill-effects of trauma can affect people for years after the incident or event, changing their views, opinions, and beliefs about the future and their lives.
There are many different types of incidents or events that can prove to be traumatic for a person. The same event will not be traumatic for everyone and affect everyone in the same way. Some common traumatic events can be bullying, physical or sexual abuse, kidnappings, war, losing a loved one, road accidents, harassment, or natural disasters as well. The traumatic incident does not have to occur directly to the person as well. Someone can witness another person going through something traumatic, and develop the same symptoms related to experiencing trauma themselves. The people who are most vulnerable to trauma are children. Their brains are still developing, and experiencing a traumatic event can lead them to develop certain views about life as they grow. Their sense of fear can go on well into adulthood, making it difficult for them to cope with the regular events of life.
Some of the initial reactions to a traumatic incident are confusion, anxiety, numbness, sadness, and exhaustion. In the long run, some symptoms of trauma are extreme mood swings, distress, agitation, tiredness. It can also cause several different mental disorders, fears, and dissociation. In some cases, people can lose hope, have limited expectations about their future and from life, and fear that their lives will end abruptly, without them having normal life experiences.
Trauma survivors are usually quite resilient and develop coping strategies for themselves which are appropriate to the way they live. These patients can heal with time, and their symptoms reduce over time, allowing them to excel at major life events. But, there is a small percentage of trauma victims who show impairment and symptoms of major trauma-related or stress-related disorders. These victims can also develop anxiety and mood-related disorders.
When it comes to reactions to trauma, sometimes the patients have difficulty in identifying these reactions and feelings. Emotional reactions like sadness, anger, and fear are most common among these patients. They try to hide their feelings because they believe that allowing themselves to openly feel is wrong, or unacceptable. This is when other people start assuming and passing comments about how the person has no feelings and lacks basic emotions. Emotional dysregulation is also common among people who were victims of trauma at a young age. They do not know how to regulate and control their emotions. Some people who suffer from emotional dysregulation take up substance abuse to gain control of their emotions. This is only a short-term solution and causes even more emotional dysregulation in the future. Others might even take up safer and better ways to regulate their emotions by tapping into their creative side or through physical activity.
Trauma has many physical ill effects that are interrelated with the mind and behavior. Some of the most common physical problems arising from trauma are sleep disturbances, low energy levels, cardiovascular problems, respiratory problems, gastrointestinal, neurological, and substance abuse-related disorders. Patients portray their emotional or traumatic distress in the form of physical ailments. Exposure to trauma also leads to a wide variety of biological problems and responses that are closely associated with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). They can also be related to other mental disorders. Some of the most common biological responses are limbic system changes, changes in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, and dysregulation of arousal. Some Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s) also affect brain development. Abuse, neglect, and other forms of trauma can increase a child’s vulnerability, making them more prone to chronic diseases, mental illnesses, and inability to cope with other areas in life.
Hyperarousal and sleep disturbances are quite common in trauma patients. It is the person’s way of being prepared. They suffer from tension in the muscles and sudden startling responses to disturbances while sleeping. Some people who have other sleep disturbances like an early awakening, insomnia, and nightmares do not even realize that their problems are trauma responses and go back to their traumatic event or incident. Delusions and hallucinations can also be traced back to trauma events because the hallucination that causes distress has some related features to the traumatic incident.
Some other common physical symptoms of trauma that may or may not be related to trauma-related disorders are frequent headaches, fatigue, increased heart rate, excessive sweating, or digestive problems.
There are several different methods of treating trauma, some of them being therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, stress inoculation training, and medication. Eye movement desensitization makes the patient focus on something the therapist is doing, like a flashlight, a prolonged sound, or hand movements. This helps the patient focus or think about something positive while talking about their trauma. Stress inoculation training includes activities like breathing techniques and massages to help the patient relax, release stress or tension and ease the body and mind simultaneously. The activities help in reducing and stopping negative or harmful thoughts from surfacing often. Often when a person is suffering from the symptoms of trauma, the balance of chemicals in their body is not proportionate. The imbalance of neurotransmitters makes the person edgy, jumpy, and easily triggered. In such cases, medication is the best way to go. The approved and prescribed medicines help the patient control their negative thoughts and might even give them a more positive outlook on life, allowing them to feel like they can take control of their lives again.
The main goals of therapy include teaching a victim to deal with their symptoms, improving and reducing the symptoms of the trauma or the disorder, and restoring their self-esteem. One of the more recent types of therapies is a somatic therapy called sensorimotor psychotherapy. BetterHelp.com helps you learn more. Sensorimotor psychotherapy is used to help patients understand the interrelation between their physical ailments, mind, and behavior.