If something bad happens, you may wonder if it will cause trauma that lasts for a long time after the experience has ended or been resolved. So, what is trauma and what are the symptoms that it can cause. Then, if you are suffering from trauma, what can you do to overcome the distressing thoughts and feelings associated with the traumatic event.
What is Trauma?
Trauma occurs when highly stressful events make you feel helpless, afraid, and anxious. Psychological trauma can make it hard to manage distressing and upsetting emotions, memories and thoughts. The anxiety may be prevalent, and it may be difficult to make it go away. You may also lose trust in other people, even friends and family members that you love or care for.
Traumatic experiences can be virtually everything, as long as it is impactful enough. They often involve some dire threat to life or safety but can also be something that makes you feel overwhelmed or alone. The event can be a onetime instance, an ongoing or repetitive situations, or even something like the death of a friend or family members, a drastic change in living situation or lifestyle, sudden abandonment, or extreme humiliation or disappointment. Sometimes a person suffering with trauma wasn’t even present in the event leading to the traumatic feelings.
There are a lot of symptoms associated with trauma that can help you recognize whether you are experiencing trauma or not. However, it is important to remember that everyone reacts to distressing or anxiety-inducing events in different ways.
Trauma can cause disbelief or denial and feelings of shock and confusion. It can make it hard to concentrate and cause anger, irritability, mood swings, anxiety, fear, guilt, and shame. People suffering from trauma may also withdraw from other people and isolate themselves. They may also feel hopeless, sad, numb, or disconnected.
In addition to these psychological and emotional symptoms, there are also physical symptoms that are associated with trauma. The distressing and anxious thoughts and feelings can contribute to insomnia and nightmares. Trauma can also cause fatigue, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension, and agitation. A rapid heartbeat may also coincide with the feelings of anxiousness.
The symptoms associated with trauma will usually fade gradually as you process the traumatic experience. However, it can still cause these negative emotions months or even years after the experience, especially when you are reminded of the painful situations or memories.
If your symptoms of trauma do not seem to be getting any better or if they are drastically hindering your ability to function or impacting your wellbeing, you may find it helpful to seek help from a mental health professional.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is often used for people suffering from trauma because it can help you process the experience. It may also help you to identify and evaluate some of the thoughts and feelings that are associated with the traumatic event.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing can also be used. This works with cognitive behavioral therapy methods and uses eye movements to relive the traumatic experience in a less distressing way in order to process the traumatic event.
Connect with People
The symptoms associated with trauma may make you want to isolate yourself, but it is better to avoid doing so. Social interaction with other people is important. If you connect with other people face-to-dace it can provide a support system and help to heal.
Remember that you do not have to talk about the trauma if you don’t want to. A lot of people find that just being with other people doing something enjoyable helps to break the distressing thoughts and emotions. It can make you feel comforted and accepted. Other people find that talking about the traumatic event is best for them. Asking for support from someone who will not judge you and who you trust can be highly beneficial as well.
Take Care of Yourself
Trauma can cause distressing emotions and thoughts that may make it hard to adequately take care of yourself but can help a lot for your ability to cope with the stress caused by the traumatic event.
Try to get enough sleep every single night. Trauma can cause disrupted sleep patterns and insomnia. However, not getting enough sleep can actually worsen the symptoms associated with trauma. This makes it harder to get back on track. Going to sleep at the same time and waking up at the same time every day is a good start. You may also want to limit caffeine after noon and screen time an hour or more before you lay down to go to sleep at night.
If you have distressing thoughts and feelings, you may find that you want to drink alcohol or use drugs. However, you should avoid this because these things can increase your feelings of anxiety and depression as well as some of the other symptoms that may be caused by trauma.
Try to eat healthy foods. This can help with mood swings and fatigue and provide you with the energy to go about your day. Try to incorporate omega-3 fatty acids into your diet with walnuts and salmon.
Try to exercise regularly. This can release endorphins that can make you feel better. It can also help with your sleep patterns and help you avoid isolation. Plus, if you go outside to take a walk or a jog, you may find that you feel better than just being cooped up inside your home.
Finally, you may find it helpful to learn relaxation techniques. Things like mindfulness meditation, deep breathing, and yoga can help you reduce stress and anxiety levels. You should also try to spend time doing enjoyable things. If you don’t have one already, try finding a hobby that you have been interested in.
Trauma can come from all sorts of experiences and situations and it can lead to a plethora of different symptoms. However, identifying the trauma and the event that caused it is the first step towards getting better. If you find that your symptoms are not getting better, you can talk to a therapist who can help you learn to relax and process the distressing thoughts, feelings, and memories.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.