Trauma is an experience of personal violation or overwhelming intrusion on personal safety or integrity or the safety of someone you care about. Traumatic incidents or prolonged stress experiences may have continued emotional, psychological, physical, and spiritual impacts on an individual and their significant relationships. An individual may have experienced developmental trauma (situations that disrupted the natural developmental stages of childhood and adolescence) or shock trauma (a jarring experience such as a car accident, a man-made or natural disaster).
Post-Traumatic Stress results when ongoing symptoms recur after a stressful or extremely upsetting experience.
Commom Symptoms of Traumatic Stress
There are some universal experiences following all forms of trauma, be they experiences of interpersonal violence (sexual, emotional, physical, or verbal abuse perpetrated by another person) or impersonal (accidents, natural disasters, difficult surgical or medical procedures, etc) or experiences of extreme loss.
Physical reactions to trauma might include:
- Trouble falling or staying asleep
- Feeling agitated and constantly on the lookout for danger
- Getting very startled by loud noises or someone coming up on you from behind when you don't expect it
- Feeling shaky and sweaty
- Trouble breathing
Cognitive reactions to trauma might include:
- Upsetting memories or nightmares such as images or thoughts about the trauma
- Trouble concentrating or thinking clearly
- Being unable to think about anything but the traumatic experience
- Difficulty accomplishing normal tasks that require concentration or focus
- Being reminded of the trauma by simple events or occurrences
Emotional reactions to trauma might include:
- Feeling as if the trauma is happening again (flashbacks)
- Getting upset when reminded about the trauma (by something the person sees, hears, feels, smells, or tastes)
- Anxiety or intense fear, feeling in danger again
- Anger or aggressive feelings and feeling the need to defend oneself
- Trouble controlling emotions; sudden anxiety, anger, or upset
- Shutting down emotionally and/or avoiding situations or other people
- Feeling that one is going crazy
- Somatic Experiencing (TM): A gentle effective treatment for the resolution of trauma and its symptoms. We discover the effects of trauma which manifest as sensations in the body. Becoming aware of these sensations and learning how to track and release them, we come into greater mastery and empowerment over our bodies. Symptoms subside and vitality returns. This treatment was developed by Dr. Peter Levine.
- More information can be found at www.traumahealing.org