Trauma’s Tell-Tale Signs
Trauma symptoms range dramatically over time making it harder for a person to tie current emotional troubles to past events. Changes in behavior, particularly shifts that affect a person’s quality of life, are signs a person needs additional help coping with past memories.
Reactions to Trauma
Not everyone reacts to trauma in the same way. Some people experience a traumatic event and cope with the fear and anger early on. Others may have a past history of trauma that brings on serious symptoms when they experience additional traumas.
Clinically, trauma is the emotional response a person feels after experiencing a tragic event such as a rape or natural disaster according to the American Psychological Association (APA). Immediately after trauma, it’s common for people to feel both denial and shock (a sudden intense feeling like being stunned or dazed). After the initial feelings of shock pass away, a person experiences more long-term emotions that may include the following according to the APA:
- Intense and unpredictable feelings such as anxiousness, nervousness or irritability
- Altered thoughts and behavior patterns that include vivid memories or flashbacks
- Recurring emotions such as anniversaries that bring back uncomfortable memories
- Challenging relationships with family and friends often brought on by being stressed or withdrawn
- Physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea and chest pain
Some people may experience more severe reactions to tragic events that last for several months or years and greatly inhibit normal functioning, and this is called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Unusual Symptoms of Trauma
Some people may experience symptoms after trauma that seem unrelated to the event. In reality, there are a variety of physical and emotional responses that may occur in a person. Much of the confusion felt by a traumatized person is due to the body’s regulation of emotions and the chance that the brain is disconnected from emotional feelings.
A person’s limbic system regulates emotions and is deeply affected by dangerous events according to the . It also controls brain chemicals that prepare a person to fight or flee danger. For example, children in the midst of trauma may respond with anger when adults try to help because they are unable to regulate emotions due to the flood of chemicals in their bodies.
Common Symptoms of Trauma
Common problems that occur after trauma include PTSD, depression, guilt, suicidal thoughts and anger and aggressive behavior according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Effective treatment programs are available, and it’s important to find ways to feel positive about the future.
While individuals need time to cope with trauma, sometimes it’s clear outside help is needed. If memories of the event are interfering with daily life or raw emotions from the trauma are prompting conflict with family members and friends, it’s time to reach out.
Treating Trauma Symptoms
Researchers who study PTSD treatments know it may take several different types of treatments to help a person regain a normal life. Ongoing study into current therapies shows the best options help people experience negative memories more positively.
The latest research supports Cognitive Behavioral Therapies (CBT) to treat PTSD and trauma symptoms according to the VA. These treatments take a variety of forms and teach people techniques for maintaining positive thoughts and re-learning healthy thinking patterns. The therapies also include exposure therapy, which guides a person through memories of the traumatic event in an effort to associate more positive, calm emotions with the memory. Another therapy with a lot of promise is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), which also helps a person associate more peaceful emotions with traumatic memories.
Need Help Finding Treatment for PTSD?
There are proven therapies to help people cope with the after-effects of traumatic events. Healthy responses to trauma give a person the ability to function normally and help people learn how to identify problem behaviors and make important changes. While a trauma may include a single event or the cumulative effects of ongoing trauma, there are therapeutic options for treating the mental health symptoms.
A person struggling with trauma needs support, understanding and the right tools for getting better. It also is common for a person with PTSD to have a co-occurring disorder such as addiction or another mental health disorder. A high quality integrated treatment program offers the best outcomes for Dual Diagnosis patients.
Because the therapies set realistic goals and guide a person through achieving them, they create lasting change in a person’s life. If you or a loved one is suffering with trauma and/or addiction, call our admissions coordinators at our toll-free today for advice. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to offer information about addiction treatments.