After any traumatic event, you could likely experience psychological, emotional, and physical symptoms related to psychological trauma.
Everybody responds in different ways depending nature of the traumatic event and other factors involved. However, psychological trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can harm well-being if not addressed. It is important that you reach out and get some help should you feel it necessary.
It is common that you might find it difficult to gather your thoughts and feelings around traumatic events, which is why Leone Centre psychotherapists and counsellors are experienced to help you work through your trauma and towards the healing and rebuilding of your life.
Every individual’s experience is different though the symptoms outlined below may help you identify how you might be particularly affected. These can help you decide on the best person or place to go for help.
If you need support for the trauma you have experienced at any point in your life, Leone Centre can help.
What is trauma?
Trauma can be defined is an emotional or psychological response to an event or series of events that overwhelm an individual’s ability to cope or process the experience. Traumatic events can vary in nature and severity, including but not limited to accidents, abuse, violence, natural disasters, or witnessing a traumatic event.
Trauma is stored not only in the mind but also in the body. It is important to address the physiological and sensory aspects of trauma in addition to the psychological and emotional aspects. It occurs when an individual is unable to complete the instinctual responses that would have helped them to defend or protect themselves during the traumatic event. This incomplete or thwarted response can lead to the accumulation of excess energy in the nervous system, which can manifest as physical and psychological symptoms.
Ongoing symptoms of trauma affect our emotional well-being and physical health. Physical impacts of trauma and stress have the potential to cause illness and chronic disorders that impact the quality of our everyday life.
If you need support for the trauma that you have experienced in your life, counselling can help. We know that with the right support, you will be able to live a fulfilling life.
The Physiological Responses to Trauma
When confronted with trauma, the brain reacts in accordance with our primal survival instincts.
The “fight, flight, or freeze” response explains that the amygdala, responsible for emotional processing, perceives the traumatic event as a threat. This triggers a series of physiological reactions mediated by the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Stress hormones like adrenaline are released, preparing the body for immediate action. Consequently, individuals may experience physiological responses such as heightened alertness, increased heart rate, and rapid breathing.
In Peter Levine’s book “Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma,” he explores trauma from a somatic perspective, emphasizing the role of the body in trauma and its healing. He introduces the concept of the “trauma vortex,” which represents the involuntary activation of the body’s survival responses in the face of overwhelming events.
Trauma occurs when a person is unable to complete the instinctual fight, flight, or freeze response during a life-threatening or overwhelming situation. This incomplete response leaves the energy of the experience trapped in the body, leading to various symptoms and long-term effects.
It is important to understand the body’s innate capacity to heal trauma. Most therapeutic approaches aim at renegotiating and resolving incomplete trauma responses.
The prefrontal cortex holds a very important role in trauma recovery as it is responsible for integrating and making sense of experiences. By engaging the prefrontal cortex through mindfulness, grounding techniques, and somatic awareness, individuals can start regaining a sense of safety and coherence in their lives
Some common Myths about Trauma
Misconceptions around trauma and PTSD can contribute to misunderstandings and stigmatization. Recognizing these misconceptions fosters a greater need for empathy and understanding toward those who have undergone traumatic experiences:
Trauma is not limited to catastrophic events; any experience overwhelming an individual’s coping mechanisms can be traumatic.
This includes emotional abuse, bullying, or even sudden life changes, surgery, witnessing violence or distress, covid, being shamed or shouted at
Recovery from trauma is not a quick process; it varies significantly among individuals and requires time and support.
Not everyone exposed to trauma will develop PTSD; some may experience symptoms, but not all will develop the full disorder.
Discussing or reliving trauma is not always beneficial; poorly timed or inappropriate discussions can potentially retraumatize individuals.
Understanding the misconceptions surrounding trauma promotes empathy and understanding by reducing blame, acknowledging the complexity of the healing process, combating stigma, practicing sensitivity in discussions, and providing support and validation. It creates an environment where survivors feel seen, heard, and supported, ultimately facilitating their healing and recovery journey.
- physical sensations such as pain, shaking, feeling nauseous
- anxiety, panic and difficulty managing emotions
- feeling jumpy and easily startled
- overwhelming feelings of anger, sadness, guilt and shame
- hyper-vigilance, extreme alertness
- irritability and difficulty concentrating
- avoiding feelings or memories; using alcohol or drugs to avoid memories
- difficulty sleeping
- being unable to remember details of what happened
- feeling emotionally and physically numb