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Going through an event that’s very stressful or scary can be traumatic and have a lasting emotional effect as a consequence.

In some cases, someone can overcome these feelings on their own or with the support of others. However, it can be more difficult to deal with for many people. A traumatic event can often have a lasting impact on someone’s life. Because of this, recognizing the signs of trauma and knowing about the treatment and support available can be helpful. This article will help you better understand trauma, its causes, and the support that’s out there.

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What is trauma, and what causes it?

Trauma is an ongoing emotional and psychological reaction to a distressing or disturbing event. The word “trauma” can also describe the event that prompted this reaction. A wide number of events can cause trauma. Some examples are:

  • Abuse
  • Bullying
  • Rape or violence
  • Experiences of war
  • Natural disasters
  • Serious accidents

Everyone reacts differently to these types of events. Some people might experience trauma, while others can easily overcome what happened. Trauma can affect children and adults and result from a single traumatic incident or multiple or repeated instances. People can be affected by a variety of different trauma disorders. Trauma means that the brain changes as a consequence of a traumatic incident, and this causes a change in the emotional response that a person shows.

What are common signs of trauma?

Some symptoms a person might exhibit after a traumatic incident indicate that they are dealing with trauma. These symptoms generally relate to emotional responses to the event and the world around them. Showing these signs immediately after a distressing event is common; these responses often lessen over time. Some people experience these symptoms over a much longer period. Typical signs of trauma are:

  • Shock and denial about the event
  • Anger and sadness
  • Unpredictable emotions
  • Flashbacks to the event
  • Feelings of guilt and shame
  • Feelings of hopelessness and isolation
  • Physical symptoms like headaches or nausea

PTSD

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is also known as PTSD. This is a psychiatric disorder that can occur after a traumatic event. People with this disorder have often been through difficult experiences, such as natural disasters or time in combat, but it can occur after any traumatic incident. Someone with PTSD is likely to feel very anxious, have flashbacks and nightmares, and have difficulty sleeping. PTSD is a prolonged and serious response to trauma that can be debilitating and have lasting effects. Despite this, it can be treated effectively with talking therapies and anti-depressants.

What to do if you think you’re experiencing the effects of trauma

You may be affected if you’ve been through a difficult experience and recognize some typical trauma symptoms. If you think you are experiencing the effects of trauma or you think you have PTSD, it’s wise to seek advice from your doctor as soon as you can. Your doctor can assess you and help you to access the right support and services.

If you cannot approach your doctor, another option is to contact a helpline or a provider of mental health services. You can use various services and providers, depending on where you live and your needs.

Treatment for the effects of trauma

Although trauma can severely impact someone’s life and relationships, treatment is available. Because the response to a traumatic event can vary, there isn’t only one approach to treating the condition. Different people will respond effectively to different types of treatment. Talking therapies and anti-depressants are usually the most successful ways of dealing with trauma. As well as these therapies, other activities can be beneficial for people with trauma. Yoga, meditation, and mindfulness can help to reconnect the mind and body and help people to feel calmer, more relaxed, and at ease. A few types of therapy are often successful treatments for the effects of trauma.

Cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of talking therapy that encourages patients to change how they think about and react to situations. It can be used to treat trauma and other conditions like depression. It’s about finding better ways to cope with trauma and changing how the patient thinks about it so they can cope healthier.

Exposure therapy

Exposure therapy is a type of therapy that involves exposing the patient to something they fear and avoid as a way to help them overcome this fear. This is done in a safe environment with specialist guidance to support the patient. This might mean being exposed to objects, situations, activities, or even images of someone else involved in a traumatic incident. This therapy can reduce the fear that comes with the emotional response to trauma.

Counseling

Counseling is another talking therapy that allows people to discuss their problems with a trained specialist. Counseling can take place individually or as part of a therapy group of people with similar problems and experiences. This type of therapy generally takes place in a peaceful and private setting. The person receiving the session might guide the discussion and choose what they want to discuss. A counselor doesn’t provide answers but helps patients process their feelings.

Ways you can support a traumatized person

If someone around you has been through a traumatic event, it can be tough to know how to support them, especially if you haven’t had a comparable experience. It can be useful to know some tips and suggestions for supporting someone with a trauma disorder. Supporting them as much as you can, along with them seeking appropriate treatment and services, can help them to move forward from trauma. These are some ways you support somebody who has been through trauma.

Listening

Listening to the other person if they want to talk about the trauma can help. It allows them to express their feelings and helps you to show that you’re there for them. Focus on listening to what they want to talk about rather than asking questions to direct the conversation. Accept their feelings without dismissing them and mirror their vocabulary, for example, survivor/victim. You should concentrate on hearing the other person rather than trying to give them advice unless they ask for it.

Learn what triggers them

Another useful idea is to find out what their triggers are. This might be something like loud noises or certain topics of conversation. Knowing the triggers can help you avoid them around this person and reduce flashbacks and difficult emotions relating to the trauma. It can also help you to be prepared if the person does have a flashback or gets exposed to a trigger.

Avoid judgment

The trauma and associated feelings might be difficult to understand, especially if you have no direct experience with trauma. Avoid judging the other person for how they feel and instead focus on accepting their feelings and experiences. It’s important not to blame the other person or pressure them to get better. Instead, you can concentrate on helping them find the right support and services and working through things at their own pace.

Respect their privacy

Many people feel sensitive about a traumatic incident they’ve experienced. If they confide in you, keeping this information private is important. Only share the details of the situation if the other person gives permission or asks you to.

Help them find the right support

Finding professional support can be a big challenge when dealing with trauma. You can support someone in this situation by helping them find service providers who can support them. You can share information about providers who might be helpful and support them in making therapy or other service decisions.

Recovery from trauma

Trauma is challenging and serious and can significantly impact a person’s life. While it’s a difficult thing to experience and to support someone else through, there are treatments, activities, and services that can help someone who is experiencing trauma move forward and lessen the symptoms. Seeking medical help or counseling is a big step but can also be a significant move toward overcoming trauma. With the right treatment and support, it’s possible to move past trauma and lead a full life.