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Trauma is an experience perceived by someone as frightening or overwhelming and may have repercussions that stretch far beyond the event itself. This might include experiencing an event directly such as abuse, natural disasters, or accidents and witnessing events or the aftermath of events perceived as frightening, overwhelming, or violent like medical emergencies or serious accidents. From emotional responses to behavioral and cognitive changes, the complex consequences of trauma extend across different aspects of a person’s life. It’s important to know that reactions to trauma or other adverse experiences are normal and that it is also possible to heal. Whether singular, multiple, or enduring traumatic events, this blog examines the normal yet distressing and disruptive impact of trauma.
The Emotional Impact
It’s not uncommon for people who have experienced trauma to feel emotionally dysregulated or numb, as the brain is protecting itself from further hurt by shutting down feelings. However, this can lead to problems in day-to-day life, because it’s difficult to function when you’re not feeling anything or swinging from one emotion to another. Emotional dysregulation means that it can be hard to manage or cope with difficult or painful feelings like anxiety, fear, sadness, anger, guilt, or shame. Numbing, on the other hand, is a biological process that involves detaching ourselves from emotions and experiences. .Both reactions are common but can be harmful to your mental health and well-being in the long run. Keeping trauma-related emotions hidden can make it harder for the people who care about you and your mental health professionals to ensure that you’re getting the help you need. .
The Cognitive Impact
Experiencing a traumatic event can create lasting ripples, impacting how we think and interact with the world. It is normal for people who have experienced traumatic stress to experience changes in their thinking or cognitive functioning, including difficulties with attention, concentration, and problems with memory that may lead to misunderstandings and conflict. This happens because of changes in how your brain processes information after a traumatic event. By recognizing the impact of these changes, it becomes easier to understand how trauma may be influencing your everyday life and make possible to work towards managing difficulties more effectively.
The Physical Impact
Trauma can have a profound impact on both the mind and the body. Yet it is not unusual for people who have experienced trauma to overlook the connection between their experiences and their physical reactions. Trauma can cause a person to dissociate or to feel detached from their body and physical sensations. Sometimes psychological distress or strain manifests through physical symptoms, such as nausea, digestive problems, headaches, and fatigue, which is called somatization. These things can make it hard for a person to connect the dots between their trauma and physical symptoms. For this reason, it is especially important to be aware of common symptoms tied to traumatic experiences, such as hypervigilance. Hypervigilance is a heightened sense of awareness to one’s environment. It is a common reaction to trauma and happens because one’s nervous system perceives events as threatening even when they are not. Awareness of physical trauma symptoms can help anyone experiencing them gain insight into what’s happening and create informed decisions on how best to seek help and support.
Getting the Right Treatment for Trauma, PTSD, and Comorbid Disorders
Experiencing a wide range of responses following a traumatic event is normal. While this doesn’t make them less distressing, symptoms can often subside over time without additional treatment. However, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), is a more complex response and means that symptoms are continuing or worsening over time rather than improving or lessening. It is common for people with PTSD to experience other difficulties including depression or anxiety. When someone experiences both PTSD and anxiety or depression, it’s important that they receive treatment from a qualified mental health professional who is knowledgeable in treating these conditions simultaneously. With proper help and support, individuals living with PTSD or struggling with the aftermath of trauma can begin to heal and reduce the distressing impact of trauma in their lives. If you have experienced traumatic stress, our team at Mood Treatment Center can determine the best treatment to find the relief you need and deserve.