The Different Types of Trauma
There are two types of trauma: physical and mental. Physical trauma is the body’s response to serious threat and injury, while mental and emotional trauma is the mind’s response to serious threat and injury. Mental trauma can produce strong feelings and extreme behaviors, including sleep disturbances, aggression, and hyper-vigilance.
What Causes Trauma?
Both direct and indirect exposure to life-threatening and life-altering events can cause trauma. These can be both one-time events and chronic actions that a person experiences. Often, but not always, traumatic events are rooted in childhood. These events can happen unexpectedly and make the person feel powerless or unprepared. These events can also involve intentional cruelty, but they don’t necessarily have to involve premeditated or intentional harm.
Possible Examples of Things That can Cause Trauma are:
- Accidents; cars, trains, etc.
- The discovery of a life threatening illness in a loved one or one’s self
- Natural disasters
- Abuse (physical, sexual, emotional, etc.)
- Urban violence
- Battering relationships
Common Symptoms That a Person Has Experienced Trauma
People who have experienced trauma generally express this trauma through their physical and mental states in ways that are often vastly different than their normal states of being.
Mental symptoms of trauma include:
- Shock, denial, or disbelief surrounding the event
- Anger, irritability, and intense mood swings
- Guilt, shame, and self-blame
- Feeling sad and/or hopeless
- Confusion and difficulty concentrating
- Increased anxiety or fear
- Withdrawing from others
- Feeling disconnected or numb
The body also expresses its reaction to trauma in various ways, which can include:
- Insomnia or nightmares, often surrounding the traumatic event
- Being easily startled
- Racing heartbeat
- Aches and pains
- Difficulty concentrating
- Increased edginess and agitation
- Muscle tension
When to Seek Help For Trauma
After a traumatic event, some people can return to their normal lives after a grieving period on their own terms. However, many need help to move on successfully with their lives. When a person is suffering from certain symptoms, it is often in their best interests to seek help from a professional.
Here are Some Common Symptoms that People Experience that Indicate Treatment for Trauma may be needed:
- Having trouble functioning, both in personal and professional circumstances
- Suffering from fear, anxiety, and/or depression
- Inability to form close or satisfying interpersonal relationships
- Experiencing flashbacks and/or terrifying memories
- Feeling emotionally disconnected
- Using drugs and alcohol to lessen the effects of the traumatic experience
With trauma, there is a risk of retraumatization, so it is more effective if help is provided by a trauma specialist. Treatment for trauma often includes common types of therapy as well as trauma-specific therapies.
Trauma Specific Therapies include: