What you need to know about trauma
Trauma is the feedback from a disturbing event that hampers an individual’s ability to handle things, leading to feelings of helplessness, diminishes their sense of self and their ability to experience a range of emotions.
Trauma does not discriminate and it is prevalent throughout the world. WHO conducted a World Mental Health survey found that at least a third of the more than 125,000 people surveyed in 26 different countries had experienced trauma. That number reached close to 70% when the group was limited to people experiencing core disorders as defined by the DSM-IV (the classification found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition). But those numbers are just figures that have been reported; the actual number is probably much, much higher.
No specific criteria exists to assess events leading to post-trauma symptoms. It may include the loss of control, betrayal, abuse of power, helplessness, pain, confusion and loss. These traumatic events should not trigger to the level of war, natural disaster, nor personal assault to affect a person profoundly and alter their experiences.
Post-Traumatic symptoms vary from individual to individual. It is important to remember that trauma is defined more by its response than its trigger.
Response to a traumatic event varies significantly among individuals though there are some basic common symptoms.
Some of the emotional signs include:
- Sadness: Sadness is caused due to inability to cope with a devastating life event, such as the death of a child or spouse, or any situation that causes extreme levels of pain.
- Anger: Anger is a natural reaction to perceived threats. Moreover anger becomes a problem only when you don't manage it in a healthy way.
- Denial: Denial is provoked by anxiety, fear, and insecurity. People try to protect their emotional security as a natural human instinct.
- Fear: Fear is the threat of harm; real or imagined. This threat can be in regards to physical, emotional or psychological well-being.
- Shame: Shame occurs when you look inward with a critical eye and evaluate yourself harshly, often for things you have little control over.
These may cause nightmares, insomnia, difficulty with relationships, emotional outbursts.
Some common Physical symptoms are nausea, dizziness, altered sleep patterns, changes in appetite, headaches and gastrointestinal problems.
Psychological Disorders may include: PTSD, depression, anxiety, dissociative disorders and substance abuse problems.
There are several types of trauma, including:
- Acute trauma: Acute trauma results from a single stressful or dangerous event.
- Chronic trauma: Chronic trauma results from repeated and prolonged exposure to highly stressful events. Some examples are cases of child abuse, bullying, or domestic violence.
- Complex trauma: Complex trauma results from exposure to multiple traumatic events.
- Secondary trauma: In this form of trauma, a person develops trauma symptoms from close contact with someone who has experienced a traumatic event.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) varies for every individual. Some individuals may show some symptoms from those listed above, but diminish after a few weeks. This is acute stress disorder (ASD).
When the symptoms persist over a month and start affecting a person’s ability to perform daily activities, that person may be suffering from PTSD. That people with PTSD don’t show symptoms for months after the event itself. And some individuals deal with PTSD symptoms of a traumatic experience for a lifetime. Some of the symptoms of PTSD are panic attacks, depression, suicidal thoughts and feelings, drug abuse, feelings of being isolated and not being able to complete daily tasks.
People experiencing trauma benefit from working with a trauma-informed therapist. A trauma informed therapist will practice a combination of interventions and modalities.
The best example is the Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP), developed by world-renowned scientist and Chief Scientific Advisor at Unyte-iLs, Dr. Stephen Porges.
Research shows that the SSP can have significant results in just five days in the following areas:
- Social and emotional difficulties
- Auditory sensitivities
- Anxiety and trauma related challenges
- Stressors that impact social engagement
- Self-acknowledgment: Due to one to one therapy, the therapist will listen to you without any agenda. The session will help you to speak about your problems to recover quickly.
- Understanding your trauma: As the symptoms start triggering, it gets difficult to understand what your trauma is. You will feel helpless, along with the feeling of anger, despair, and fear. If the past incident is powerful or hard to get over, you will require some strategies. The more and more you talk about your problems to a therapist, the better you will understand your triggers.
- Overcoming underlying problems: A knowledgeable therapist will dive deep into the memories to dig out the core problems. Hence, it will help you relieve the accumulated stress and get out of the toxic shame zone.
- Re-building on personal growth: Severe trauma affects a person's individual development and relationships. It changes the way someone perceives itself and can turn into stress or disaster anytime. But with the therapy, you can start with your life and shape it all again with the new start.
- Coping techniques: As trauma affects the way an individual looks towards the world, it gets challenging to interact with everyone. But the coping skills will help you manage negative issues and deal with the fear practically.
- Tips to overcome traumatic experiences: If you are suffering from trauma, then the first thing you need to do is keep yourself physically fit. Being more active will release happy hormones to help you relax and reduce stressors. Try getting asleep in a comfortable environment and avoid caffeine as much as you can.
Try speaking about your traumatic events to a person you trust, because bottling up emotions will just make it heavier. Take your time; talk to a therapist, if you don't have any person to share your problems. A therapist will help you understand your triggers that are causing you panic and stress.