After counseling & supporting countless survivors of trauma over the years, I wanted to create some easy to understand information.
These articles are meant to offer knowledge & hope for survivors of trauma. It is my belief that KNOWLEDGE + HOPE = EMPOWERMENT. Let’s get started.
What is Trauma?
Trauma occurs when extreme stress, fear, horror or helplessness overwhelms a person’s ability to cope.
If you are a survivor of trauma, you might be experiencing overwhelming emotions, numbness, frightening memories, or the inability to trust others. This is a hard way to live!
Trauma changes our emotions and beliefs.
A traumatic experience can upend your sense of security. It can change:
- How you feel (“I’m scared all the time. I just sense something dangerous is going to happen!”),
- how you think about the world (“The world is a dangerous place! No one can be trusted!”),
- and how you think about yourself (“I’m helpless and alone.”).
Not all traumatic experiences are the result of a physical threat.
Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety (such as being in combat or living with an abusive person), but any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and alone can be traumatic.
One-Time Event or Ongoing? Either.
People often think of a traumatic event as a one-time experience (such as a bad car accident or a violent attack), but trauma can also stem from ongoing, relentless stress (being raised by an emotionally abusive parent or a long-term fight with cancer).
Causes of Trauma
This list represents common causes of trauma including causes that are sometimes overlooked:
- Grief & Loss
- Discovery of a life-threatening illness or disabling condition
- Childhood abuse or neglect
- Physical, emotional or sexual abuse
- Medical Emergencies (a Heart Attack, Stroke or Traumatic childbirth)
- The breakup of a significant relationship
- A humiliating or deeply disappointing experience
- War Combat
- Accidents & natural disasters
- Witnessing violence
- Cultural, historical and inter-generational trauma
People react to trauma in different ways and there is no “right” or “wrong” way to think, feel or respond.
Common Reactions to Trauma:
- Headaches, backaches, stomachaches, etc.
- Sudden sweating and/or heart palpitations
- Changes in sleep patterns, appetite, or interest in sex
- Easily startled by noises or unexpected touch
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Aches, pains & muscle tension
- More susceptible to colds and illnesses
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs
- Fear, depression, anxiety
- Difficulty concentrating
- Shock, denial, or disbelief
- Outbursts of anger or rage
- Emotional swings
- Nightmares and flashbacks – re-experiencing the trauma
- Tendency to isolate oneself or feelings of detachment
- Difficulty trusting and/or feelings of betrayal
- Self-blame, survivor guilt, or shame
- Diminished interest in everyday activities
You are Not Alone.
70% of adults in the U.S. have experienced some type of traumatic event at least once in their lives. That’s 223.4 million people.
People Can & Do Recover from Trauma.
By seeking help from a professional, increasing your coping strategies and finding support in others, you can speed your recovery.
There are ways to cope.
Just as each person experiences trauma differently, there are different way to heal. This list includes some strategies that have been helpful for others. Find what works for you.
- Acknowledge that you have been through traumatic events.
- Connect with others, especially those who may have a shared experience or be able to offer you empathy and support.
- Exercise (yoga, jogging, cycling, or walking).
- Relax (stretching, meditation, deep muscle relaxation, acupuncture, etc.)
- Take up music, art or other creative hobbies.
- Practice healthy nutrition and sleep patterns.
- Commit to something personally meaningful and important every day.
- Write about your experience for yourself or to share with others.
There are Effective Trauma Treatments.
Traditional therapeutic treatments for trauma include Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Talk Therapy, Group Therapy and Exposure Therapy.
Alternative methods include hypnotherapy, massage therapy, pet or equine therapy, and support groups.
National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare
National Center for PTSD
Questions about anything you learned? Interested in help to resolve your trauma? I’d love to hear from you–send me a message or call me at 916-572-7412.