Trauma

Trauma can arise from a wide variety of frightening or difficult events. These can range from common circumstances, such as divorce or death, to extreme occurrences, such as natural disasters, accidents, a school shooting, or war. People who have experienced a traumatic event often suffer from psychological and physical symptoms.

What is Trauma?

Trauma is how the mind responds to directly experiencing or witnessing a deeply disturbing, shocking, and/or dangerous event or situation. Moreover, simply hearing about such an event experienced by a close friend or family member can catalyze trauma. Furthermore, a trauma definition typically includes a reference to traumatic stress. While everyone experiences stress at one time or another, people who are traumatized have more severe reactions.

Trauma can cause short- and long-term effects on mental and physical health, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In children and teens, symptoms of psychological trauma include poor verbal skills, difficulty focusing on schoolwork, memory problems, aggressive behavior, anxiety, headaches and stomachaches, and nightmares or other sleep issues. Therefore, these symptoms impact their daily lives and ability to maintain relationships and participate in social interactions. Traumatized people can also detach from their emotions in a process calling numbing. Consequently, they protect themselves from experiencing the painful emotions associated with trauma.

Treatment for trauma focuses on helping people integrate the traumatic event so it no longer has a destabilizing effect on their emotions. Treatment approaches include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, hypnotherapy, and group therapy. Some experts believe that body-based modalities, such as yoga and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, are particularly effective in treating trauma.

Sources: American Psychological Association, National Institute of HealthThe National Child Traumatic Stress Network 

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