Find Support for Trauma Recovery in Tarrant County Texas
What Is Trauma?
Trauma is a person’s emotional and psychological response to an exceptionally terrible event or situation. After a tragedy has occurred, it’s not unusual for someone to be in shock briefly. For example, a parent who has lost a child may lose interest in life. These reactions are normal but eventually fade. However, people who have been traumatized have difficulty moving forward.
Experts reference both psychological trauma and emotional trauma. While there is some disagreement, essentially they are referring to the same thing. However, emotional trauma is different from physical trauma, which is a serious injury to the body.
How Common Is Trauma in the U.S.?
Unfortunately, trauma cases are quite common in the United States. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs reports that about 6 of every 10 men and 5 of every 10 women experience at least one trauma in their lives. The V.A. further states that while women are more likely to experience child abuse and sexual assault, men are more likely to experience accidents, physical assault, disasters, and witness death. However, because trauma isn’t considered a formal mental disorder, it can be difficult to obtain accurate statistics.
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What Causes Trauma?
Trauma is caused by a traumatic event but the full story is more complicated. Trauma can be caused by a single incident or a long-term issue. Sometimes the cause is quite obvious, while other times it is harder to pinpoint.
Examples of a one-time event include a natural disaster, the unexpected death of a loved one, or being the victim of a violent crime. If a parent and child are forcefully separated, both could experience trauma. A deeply humiliating experience also can cause result in trauma.
Examples of ongoing causes include dealing with a terminal illness, family dysfunction or violence, or being repeatedly bullied. Being surrounded by war or violence can be considered a traumatic experience. And some cases can be a mix of factors. For example, a family that has just been evicted from their home may be traumatized. Or becoming homeless may cause them trauma later on.
Regardless, it’s important to remember: Someone can experience trauma even when the traumatic event does not cause physical damage.
What are the Main Symptoms of Trauma?
HelpGuide.org has assembled a list of symptoms people may exhibit as a result of the trauma. Psychological and emotional symptoms include:
- Shock, denial, or disbelief
- Anger, irritability, and mood swings
- Anxiety and fear
- Guilt, shame, and self-blame
- Feeling sad or hopeless, or withdrawing from others
- Feeling disconnected or emotionally “numb”
Physical symptoms of someone suffering from trauma are:
- Insomnia, nightmares, and fatigue
- Confusion, difficulty in concentrating, and being startled easily
- Edginess, agitation, and racing heartbeat
- Aches, pains, and muscle tension
Other Symptoms of Trauma
Other reactions to trauma include nausea, headaches, and traumatic memories. Victims may have conflicts in their relationships. The person also may relive the traumatic experience through flashbacks, and try to avoid things and people that remind them of the event.
However, these are just some of the more common symptoms. Each person is different, and psychological trauma can exhibit itself in different ways. In general, people who experience trauma feel helpless and isolated, with no sense of control or sense of safety.
Traumatic Events are Determined by the Victim, Not the Incident
Obviously, the list above is not complete. That’s because the specific incident is only part of the trauma equation; the real question is how we feel about the event. Thus, something as common as a bad trip to the dentist or a relationship breakup could result in trauma.
Note also that someone does not have to be a victim to suffer the effects of trauma. Simply witnessing a tragic event can be a traumatic experience. For example, observing a horrible car accident or being in combat can be traumatic events.
In short, the more overwhelmed, helpless, and alone an event leaves you feeling, the more likely you are to have been traumatized. Take our short quiz, Are You Depressed?
What Is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
PTSD is a mental health disorder that can develop in some individuals who have experienced trauma. It is characterized by powerful, intrusive, and repeated thoughts about the incident that do not go away, along with a continuing need to avoid situations and events that may trigger traumatic memories.
The primary difference between trauma and PTSD is the severity and duration of the symptoms. If the person’s psychological trauma symptoms do not go away or get worse, he or she may have PTSD. Also, while a person may develop PTSD after experiencing a traumatic event, not every traumatic event will result in someone developing PTSD.
How Can I Recover from Trauma?
There are plenty of things you could do on or own to assist yourself in dealing with Trauma Recovery. These includes:
Take care of yourself. Stay active and exercise. Eat healthily and get enough rest. Avoid using alcohol and/or drugs as a way to cope.
Don’t isolate yourself. Interacting with people may be difficult, but spending time with loved ones, family, and friends can be very therapeutic. You can also seek out a support group that meets in person or online, or do volunteer work.
Monitor your state. Try to be aware of times when you are feeling anxious and develop strategies that can calm you. Many victims of trauma have found benefits in doing mindful breathing exercises.
Be kind to yourself. It takes time to move forward from the effects of trauma, and you may need patience. It also is possible to have occasional relapses. Look for the things that work for you, and remember that healing is not done all at once, but one stage at a time. Do our short activity, Looking for Good.
A Professional Therapist Can Help You With the Trauma Recovery Process
Everyone is different, so people may move through a stage of recovery at their own rate. However, if weeks or months have passed and your symptoms do not seem to be easing up, it may be wise to seek professional help.
Traditional approaches to treating emotional trauma include talk therapies and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which focuses on intentionally changing one’s thoughts and actions.
Working through trauma can be scary and painful. The therapist you select should have previous experience, and if you do not feel comfortable, look for another therapist.
But whether you work on trauma recovery on your own or with a professional, the guiding objective is to restore a sense of control and empowerment. And reestablishing a sense of safety is the first stage of recovery. Thus, even if your trauma symptoms are mild, it may be wise to meet with a therapist.
How to Help Someone Recover from Trauma
Family and friends can play a large part in helping someone with trauma and recovery. Things you can do include:
Help the victim re-establish a routine. For example, you may offer to go grocery shopping together or go for a walk. Encourage the person to be active and socialize. Of course, it’s important not to push too hard.
Don’t take things personally. Suffering from trauma can result in difficult relationships. The person may be irritable and/or emotionally distant. Remember that these behaviors do not have anything to do with you.
Be patient and understanding. Remember that each person recovers at his or her own rate. Avoid passing judgment on your loved one or friend. Be available to listen, but do not pressure the person to open up about their experience. You may also ask if they have considered seeing a therapist.
Trauma Recovery is Part of Maintaining Mental Health
The process of healing from trauma can be slow. But with time and the support of friends and professionals, you can regain your normal life and move forward. This also is part of protecting your overall mental health. If you or someone you know has been traumatized, we encourage you to take action today. You can recover and get back to your life, one stage at a time.