Education

What is Trauma?

 

In general, trauma can be defined as a psychological, emotional response to an event or an experience that is deeply distressing or disturbing. When loosely applied, this trauma definition can refer to something upsetting, such as being involved in an accident, having an illness or injury, losing a loved one, or going through a divorce. However, it can also encompass the far extreme and include experiences that are severely damaging.

Types of Trauma

Complex Trauma

Complex trauma happens repetitively. It often results in direct harm to the individual. The effects of complex trauma are cumulative. The traumatic experience frequently transpires within a particular time frame or within a specific relationship, and often in a specific setting.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can develop after a person has been exposed to a terrifying event or has been through an ordeal in which intense physical harm occurred or was threatened. Sufferers of this PTSD have persistent and frightening thoughts and memories of their ordeal.

Developmental Trauma Disorder

Developmental trauma disorder is a recent term in the study of psychology. This disorder forms during a child’s first three years of life. The result of abuse, neglect, and/or abandonment, developmental trauma interferes with the infant or child’s neurological, cognitive, and psychological development. It disrupts the victim’s ability to attach to an adult caregiver.

An adult who inflicts developmental trauma usually doesn’t do it intentionally – rather, it happens because they are not aware of the social and emotional needs of children.

Trauma Symptoms

Often, shock and denial are typical reactions to a traumatic event. Over time, these emotional responses may fade, but a survivor may also experience reactions long-term. These can include:

  • Anger

  • Persistent feelings of sadness and despair

  • Flashbacks

  • Unpredictable emotions

  • Physical symptoms, such as nausea and headaches

  • Intense feelings of guilt, as if they are somehow responsible for the event

  • An altered sense of shame

  • Feelings of isolation and hopelessness

Healing from Trauma

It is possible to heal from emotional and psychological trauma. We know that the brain changes in response to a traumatic experience, however, by working with a mental health professional who specializes in trauma, you can leave your trauma behind and learn to feel safe again. Learn more about our Level 1 Trauma-Informed Outreach Training.

 
 
 
Connection is the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.
— Brene Brown
Source: Center for the treatment of anxiety disorders