It is thought that over 50% of people will experience at least one trauma throughout their lives. Trauma includes an array of situations from serious physical injury and sexual violence to abuse, neglect and homelessness.
What Is Trauma?
When a person lives through or witnesses a distressing event / events, such as abuse, rape, sexual violence, an accident, combat or a natural disaster, they may develop an emotional response called trauma. Not all people who live through a traumatic event will develop trauma or PTSD.
Shock and denial are among the immediate aftereffects of a traumatic experience, while mood swings, interpersonal difficulties, flashbacks, and physical symptoms are among the longer-term effects. These reactions to traumatic situations are typical ones, even though they may worry the person experiencing them and those around them.
Despite the fact that the trauma itself was inescapable and that the reactions were natural, they might nonetheless be harmful and hazardous. Coping and recovery can be aided by expert support from a mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist.
Types of Trauma
Physical trauma results from a serious bodily injury such as an accident.
Emotional trauma is the response to a disturbing event. Emotional trauma may stem from situations throughout infancy, childhood and adulthood.
There are different types of emotional trauma:
- Acute emotional trauma is the response that happens during and shortly after a distressing event.
- Chronic emotional trauma is a long-term response from prolonged or repeated distressing events, over the course of months or years.
- Complex emotional trauma is the response associated with multiple distressing events that may or may not be connected.
Symptoms of Trauma
The emotional response can cause intense feelings that affect a person’s attitude, behaviour, functioning and overall view of the world.
A person commonly develops post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or an adjustment disorder which is characterised by the fear that one’s safety is at risk.
Psychological Symptoms of Emotional Trauma
- Anger, mood swings
- Depression, anxiety
- Changes in attitude, behaviour, attention, concentration, and memory
- Difficulty functioning
- Guilt, shame
Physical Symptoms of Emotional Trauma
- Increased heart rate
- Body aches, pains
- Jumpiness or startling easily
- Sleep issues, nightmares
- Sexual dysfunction
- Changes in appetite
- Excessive alertness
5 Stages of Grief
Grief is the feeling of anguish as the result of loss, most often the death of a loved one.
A person with trauma may go through these 5 stages of grief:
It’s important to note that one can move from stage to stage in any order, also may repeat or skip stages.
Types of Trauma Therapy
There are various types of therapy that are effective in treating trauma and PTSD:
Prolonged Exposure (PE) involves exposing the person to the source of fear until they are not scared of it anymore.
Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) involves challenging one’s thoughts and perspectives on why the traumatic event occurred and the beliefs developed since.
Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (TF-CBT) is a form of therapy effective on children and teenagers. It helps to address beliefs and unhealthy behaviour patterns.
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a form of treatment that involves using rhythmic stimulation to help release emotions that have been blocked in the brain.
The various techniques used in trauma treatment can vary depending on the type of therapy and the preferences of the clinician.
Imaginal exposure: you imagine the traumatic event and describe it to the therapist. This technique is helpful when you have been avoiding thoughts and memories.
In vivo exposure: this is a type of exposure therapy that takes place in real life, outside of therapy sessions. The purpose is to help you gradually deal with situations you have been avoiding because of the trauma.
Written account: the therapist may ask you to write about the traumatic events.
Impact statement: this is a common CPT technique and involves writing a statement that explains why you believe the traumatic event occurred and the impact on your life.
Cognitive restructuring strategies: CPT also involves cognitive restructuring strategies to help you change unhealthy thoughts.
Benefits of Trauma Therapy
Trauma therapy can help address traumatic events and to process feelings and emotions around it and teach coping skills to manage the symptoms.
Reduce Fear and Avoidance
Trauma can help you to confront the memories around the traumatic event and to work to overcome fears that have developed. Fear leads to avoiding people, places and things that act as reminders to the event. This avoidance makes it difficult to function and live your life.
Improve Coping Skills
Trauma therapy can help you build confidence and coping skills, which are needed to enable you to function properly.
Trauma often makes you feel unsafe and leads to issues around being able to trust others. Therapy will help you work through these issues so you can see that most people are good and can be trusted.
Challenge Problematic Beliefs
Therapy helps you work through problematic thought patterns that have developed about yourself and the world around you which are negative and not helpful in living a productive life.
People with trauma have often been told that their reactions and feelings are not acceptable. Therapy will help validate these feelings and offer understanding so one is able to start the healing process.
If you or someone you love have been diagnosed with trauma or PTSD, you should consider inpatient treatment at The Hills, in a safe and comfortable setting where you can focus on yourself. Being away from the triggers of home and immersing yourself in an environment where you are supported will allow you the time to learn skills to live your life differently. Living with trauma is difficult and affects so many aspects of your life, The Hills can help you. Give a call today to learn more.