Trauma in Adults
Trauma can wreak havoc on the life of the victim and the people who love them. Sometimes, trauma is very clear and identifiable - a car accident, a sexual assault, exposure to violence and/or war, - something that is life threatening. However, it can also go unnoticed. Various life experiences are difficult to varying degrees and often times, we minimize the effects of events on our lives, thinking, "I should've been able to handle that," "No one else seemed bothered by that," "I'm just too sensitive." - These are usually things that threaten our sense of self or our view of the world. So we ignore or stuff our thoughts and feelings, however, they never really go away. We wonder why we can't shake that event/incident and just let it go! It keeps coming up and you know it's impacting your thoughts way more often than you want. You just wish you could let it go.
Many people are unsure whether they are experiencing trauma symptoms or not. Here are a list of symptoms to watch out for:
Bad memories of the event, reliving the incident, or flashbacks - Sometimes there is a trigger: a sound, sight, or a touch that reignites similar reactions from the traumatic event. Often, people are unaware of particular triggers and often say, "I don't know why that bothered me so much, it really was not a big deal."
Avoiding situations or people that remind you of the event - You may even avoid talking or thinking about the event. Some people may keep very busy or avoid seeking help. This keeps them from having to think or talk about the event.
Feeling bad about yourself or others - You may find it hard to express your feelings. This is another way to avoid memories. You may not have positive or loving feelings toward other people and may stay away from relationships. You may blame yourself for what happened. You may feel guilt, fear, or shame.
Feeling keyed up - You may be alert and on the lookout for danger. This is known as increased emotional arousal. It can cause you to:
- Suddenly become angry or irritable.
- Have a hard time sleeping.
- Have trouble concentrating.
- Have reckless behavior or to think about hurting yourself.
- Fear for your safety and always feel on guard.
- Be very startled when someone surprises you.
Other symptoms also may include:
- Physical symptoms for no reason you can think of (called somatic complaints).
- Difficulty controlling your emotions.
- Problems with family or friends.
- Impulsive or self-destructive behavior.
- Changed beliefs or changed personality traits.
Trauma in children and teens
Children & adolescents may have the symptoms listed above and/or symptoms that depend on how old they are. As children get older, their symptoms are more like those of adults.
- Young children may become upset if their parents are not close by. Or children may have trouble sleeping or suddenly have trouble with toileting.
- Children who are in the first few years of elementary school may act out the trauma through play, drawings, or stories. They may complain of physical problems or become more irritable or aggressive. They also may have fears and anxiety that don't seem to be caused by the traumatic event.
If you think you or your child might be dealing with trauma, please consider getting help and give me a call for a free 15-minute phone consultation to tell me about your particular situation and see if we're a good fit for therapy. It takes courage to seek help, but once you do, you offer yourself and your family freedom from the bondage of these terrible thoughts, feelings and behaviors that you work so hard to ignore.