Psychological trauma is a response to an event that a person finds highly stressful. Examples include being in a war zone, a natural disaster, or an accident. Trauma can cause a wide range of physical and emotional symptoms.
Unlike other types of mental health conditions, traumatic disorders have a clear cause. These disorders can cause symptoms that are similar to other conditions, such as anxiety disorders or depression. A mental health care provider can help you get an accurate diagnosis, so you can get the best possible treatment.
Types of Trauma
Acute trauma: This results from a single stressful or dangerous event.
Chronic trauma: This results from repeated and prolonged exposure to highly stressful events. Examples include cases of child abuse, bullying, or domestic violence.
Complex trauma: This results from exposure to multiple traumatic events.
Symptoms of Trauma
People who experience persistent or severe symptoms of trauma should seek help from a mental health professional. It is especially important to seek help if the trauma symptoms interfere with daily functioning or relationships with others.
Emotional & psychological symptoms:
- Shock, denial, or disbelief
- Confusion, difficulty concentrating
- Anger, irritability, mood swings
- Anxiety and fear
- Guilt, shame, self-blame
- Withdrawing from others
- Feeling sad or hopeless
- Feeling disconnected or numb
- Insomnia or nightmares
- Being startled easily
- Difficulty concentrating
- Racing heartbeat
- Edginess and agitation
- Aches and pains
- Muscle tension
Therapy for Trauma
Therapy is a first-line treatment for trauma. Ideally, an individual will work with a trauma informed or trauma focused therapist. Common therapies for trauma include cognitive behavioral therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and somatic experiencing.
Seek help for trauma if you’re:
- Having trouble functioning at home or work
- Suffering from severe fear, anxiety, or depression
- Unable to form close, satisfying relationships
- Experiencing terrifying memories, nightmares, or flashbacks
- Avoiding more and more anything that reminds you of the trauma
- Emotionally numb and disconnected from others
- Using alcohol or drugs to feel better