How Trauma Impacts You
The impact of trauma is becoming more widely talked about and acknowledged. This is important because it increases awareness of the long-lasting effects of difficult, scary things we have experienced. As a therapist, it is more common than not to have a client walk into my office with a trauma history. The truth is most people we encounter on a daily basis have been exposed to some type of trauma in their lifetimes. Traumatic events can be physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, domestic violence, neglect, an assault, car accidents, a health crisis (e.g. cancer), divorce, death, catastrophic events (e.g. tornado or hurricane), and so much more. Trauma can touch the lives of children, adolescents, adults, and even animals. You may be reading this and recognize you have experienced one or more of these traumatic events. So, let’s take a look at how trauma has impacted you and what the long-lasting effects are.
Four Impacts of Trauma
Emotional Impact: This occurs when someone has experienced a traumatic event or more than one traumatic event. It can lead to emotional dysregulation. Many individuals experience difficulty controlling emotions and have frequent anger outbursts, or feelings of being on edge and easily panicked. Trauma can also negatively impact someone’s self-confidence and self-worth, It is common to feel guilt or shame connected to certain traumatic events.
Mental Impact: Flashbacks (feeling as if you are reliving the traumatic event or having a recurrent vivid memory of the trauma), freeze response (difficulty moving or speaking, and feeling frozen in place), and reoccurring nightmares (having nightmares related to the traumatic event) are just a few of the mental health symptoms that can occur from trauma. Experiencing mental health symptoms from trauma can be exhausting, debilitating, and lead to feelings of hopelessness.
Physical Impact: Trauma can impact individuals physically as well, Many clients I have worked with (especially children), described physical symptoms of stomach aches, nausea, poor appetite, fatigue, and even unexplained pain in areas of the body. When triggered by past trauma, individuals can have difficulty catching their breath, have a rapid heart beat, and extreme muscle tension. Studies have shown that individuals that have been exposed to complex or chronic trauma (multiple traumatic events over time) are more at risk to developing long-term health conditions (e.g. cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, and inflammation).
Social Impact: Withdrawing and isolation are a common response for individuals who have experienced traumatic events. Many people have described feeling disconnected from others, becoming very lonely, and having thoughts that no one understands or relates to now. This may occur in friendships, family relationships, and romantic relationships. The emotional impact of trauma can also lead to difficulty communicating in a healthy way with those around you leading to conflict.
Where Do I Go from Here?
In this blog, I briefly touched on impacts trauma can have on our lives. To minimize and overcome the negative impacts of trauma, one must increase their awareness and seek support. There are many resources that provide information, research, and self-help strategies. These resources can be found online or recommended by your therapist. EMDR, Play Therapy and TF-CBT are just a few trauma therapies that clients can participate in with a trained clinician. Self-care is so important! Taking care of yourself mentally (e.g. participating in therapy), physically (e.g. exercise), spiritually (e.g. meditation), and emotionally (e.g. journaling) can go a long way in reducing traumatic stress. If you are being impacted by trauma, please reach out to CCA KC for therapy services. Our therapists can help support you on your journey to healing.
By: Alex Coulter