The Oxford Dictionary defines trauma as a “deeply distressing or disturbing experience.” Typically, this includes the inability to cope because the trauma is so overwhelming, which leads to the need for support by means of counseling or other professional trauma help. Trauma is different for everyone that experiences it, and everyone has likely experienced at least one traumatic event in their lifetime.
Examples of trauma include going through a natural disaster, experiencing the loss of a loved one, or even losing a job or going through a divorce. It comes in all forms, but the signs of trauma are typically the same, and understanding them can help more people recover.
There are three types of trauma1: acute, chronic, and complex. Acute trauma is the result of a single event, like being in a hurricane. Chronic trauma is when you experience repeated or prolonged exposure to extremely stressful events, such as domestic violence. The third type of trauma, complex trauma, is the result of experiencing more than one type of traumatic event. All trauma can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a disorder resulting from the inability to recover from the traumatic event. You can even experience complex PTSD.
What Are the Signs of Trauma?
The signs of trauma and need for trauma therapy can differ depending on the trauma you experience, but each type of trauma generally produces similar signs. These include2:
- being visibly shaken or disoriented
- distracted or unable to hold a conversation
- anxiety or depression disorder
- edginess or irritability
- mood swings
- denial or downplaying the trauma
- poor concentration
- decreased appetite
- obsessive behaviors surrounding the trauma
- avoidance of things related to the trauma
This is not an exhaustive list and you should be encouraged to look for any signs that you or a loved one are acting out of character, especially after a known traumatic event. Some people can become very good at hiding the signs of trauma, especially when dealing with chronic or complex trauma, so being aware of what’s going on in the lives of your loved ones and talking openly about your experiences can be helpful.
The Signs of Trauma Occur in Stages
One important thing to understand is that trauma has stages. The signs also come in stages, as there are reactions that happen during the trauma itself and then ones that come up after the trauma is over (sometimes long after). During the trauma itself, especially for acute trauma, you might experience a racing heartbeat, sweaty palms, nausea, and a few other flight or fight reactions.
After the greatest threat of the trauma is over, those signs will give way to some of the more emotional signs listed above. If these signs of trauma extend past a few weeks, it’s important to get help in dealing with the trauma by seeking out trauma therapy. The sooner you recognize the signs of trauma, the better your chances of healing will be.
Trauma, Mental Health, & Addiction
The government has put out studies that show over a quarter of the population experiences at least one trauma before they become an adult. It’s no surprise then that the addiction rate for teens to young adults is so high. It’s not uncommon for trauma victims to use drugs or alcohol as a means of coping when the after-effects of the trauma become too much to handle. This can be further complicated by underlying medical or mental health issues and is another reason knowing the signs of trauma is key to getting help.
Getting Help at Viewpoint Dual Recovery Center
If you or someone you know is dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder or other signs of trauma, please reach out to us by calling Viewpoint Dual Recovery Center at 855.746.3633. We’ll help you create a new vision, gain new hope, and start your new life after recovery.