th-5Q: What is Trauma?

A: Trauma is stress “plus tax”. Interestingly, it is not the event that determines whether or not it will be a traumatic experience, but the person experiences and perceives the event that determines how traumatic the event will be. Traumatizing events (car accident, witnessing a horrific event, natural disaster, bad break-up of a relationship etc…) can be traumatic even when there is no physical harm or damage.

Q: What are the Components of Trauma?

A: All traumatic events have three basic components:

  • The event causing the trauma was unexpected and overwhelming

  • The person was not prepared for the event/trauma

  • The person was helpless in stopping the event from happening

Q: What are the Different Types of Trauma?

A: Trauma may be …

  • Caused by Nature (i.e. hurricanes, volcano, tornado, flood etc…)

  • Caused by Man (i.e. domestic/sexual violence, child abuse/incest, war, criminal activity/violence etc…)

  • And some traumas caused by man may be caused by accident or without intention of harm (i.e. auto accident, falling/rolling off a roof etc…)

Q: What are the Symptoms of Trauma?

A: These symptoms of trauma are “normal” symptoms that often follow an “abnormal” (traumatic) event.

Physical Symptoms of Trauma

  • Sleep disturbances (more or less than usual) nightmares

  • Significant decrease or increase in appetite

  • Lack of sex drive/impotence

  • Lack of energy

  • Chronic and often unexplained pain

Emotional Symptoms of Trauma

  • Depression, frequent/spontaneous crying spells, and feelings of hopelessness

  • Feelings of anxiety and often times panic attacks

  • Feelings of being “broken” or “damaged”

  • Feelings of fearfulness

  • Displaying obsessive and/or compulsive behaviors

  • Emotional numbness/guardedness

  • Feelings of helplessness/having no control over life, actions, actions

  • Withdrawal from relationships and routines

  • Often irritable, angry and/or resentful of others

Behavioral Symptoms of Trauma

  • Alcohol and/or substance abuse

  • Self-mutilating behaviors

  • Eating disorders

  • Compulsive behaviors

  • Hypervigilance

  • Uncontrolled thoughts/flashbacks

  • Frequently engage in unhealthy behaviors or make “unhealthy” choices

  • “ADHD” like behaviors

  • Loss of past beliefs

Cognitive Symptoms of Trauma

  • Blocks in memory (especially as it relates to the trauma)

  • “ADHD” like inability to focus or to concentrate

  • Inability or lack of desire to make decisions