What is Trauma? Types of Traumatic Events and More

As we live each day of our lives we come across various incidents, for some, we take a pause and let them register, whereas the rest are just fleeting moments. Some incidents out of these may be traumatic. Traumatic events lead to trauma.

Small moments like being catcalled, domestic abuse, burglary, assault, bullying, covid, etc. can lead to trauma.

What exactly is Trauma?

Trauma is a response to an event that is depressing or disturbing. This overwhelms an individual making them feel helpless, frustrated, the feeling of self diminishes and they feel a range of emotions between strong to mild.

How to Response to Trauma

Response to trauma is not easily visible as some may hide it and some may be vocal about it. The most common reaction is shock, denial.

These emotions help one move past through emotional effects. This may be followed by numbness, hopeless and detachment.

Other reactions can be listed as the following:

  • Exhaustion.
  • Anxiety.
  • Anger.
  • Irritability.
  • Flashbacks.
  • Nightmares.
  • Isolation from everyone.
  • Drastic mood swings.
  • Confusion.
  • Feeling that the event might recur.
  • Sadness.
  • Insomnia or disturbed sleeping patterns.
  • Depression.
  • Headaches, nausea.
  • Fear of things, objects, or people who might be related to that event.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Agitation.

Types of Traumatic Events

A traumatic event is something that can affect one physically, emotionally, spiritually. This event could be any of the following:

  • Domestic abuse.
  • Assault/ racial slur/ gender discrimination.
  • Disease like covid.
  • Trauma from war.
  • Loss of family, friends, or anyone close.
  • Shooting or murder.
  • Rape.
  • Terrorism.
  • Natural disaster.

Can trauma have a trigger?

Yes, trauma can have a trigger. Something like an object, place, or person can remind one of the trauma they are experiencing. For example, someone suffering from a war trauma can have triggers like loud noises, heavy vehicles. Or someone having trauma from an assault at a bus can be scared of buses, traveling among large crowds, may hallucinate of the person that the trauma is related to.

Types of Trauma

Trauma can be of 3 main types:

  • Acute Trauma: Trauma caused by a single distressing event. The event could be an assault, rape attempt. These incidents are strong enough to cause a person enough physical and mental pain or disturbance.

    A person suffering from acute trauma may experience- excessive anxiety, stress, irritability, confusion, sleep disturbance, aggressive behavior, lack of trust, divided concentration.

    These kinds of incidents may cause a lasting memory or impression on the person.
  • Chronic Trauma: This is caused by overlong periods of experiencing bullying, assault, domestic abuse, serious illness, exposure to violence or war.

    The symptoms of this kind of trauma are usually seen after years of experiencing these situations. This can be related to childhood trauma also where one does not understand what they are going through unless they are educated about it or told so.

    The symptoms could be unexpected outbursts, anxiety, depression, crying, flashbacks, nausea, headache, body aches, extreme anger, self-harm in some cases.

    The individual may go through major trust issues, seeing a trusted doctor for help is the best way to help.
  • Complex Trauma: When a person goes through multiple traumatic events for a prolonged period or even a short while can be said to have complex trauma.

    Usually, complex trauma incidents include personal relations where a person feels trapped or abused, domestic violence, fight amongst kin, family disputes. This kind of trauma affects an individual’s personal life decisions, performance, and behavior in school, workplace.

Frequently Asked Questions

Ques. Can trauma be related to childhood?
Ans. Yes, most people having trauma have experienced it during their childhood. As one is very young and immature to analyze what they are going through, these experiences remain masked. They are usually brought to light as they speak to new people and receive knowledge about the matter.

Ques. How do we come to know someone has past trauma?
Ans. It is not very easy to identify someone who has past trauma. But they show reactions and symptoms that could be avoiding a certain conversation, mood swings, disturbed sleep patterns, overthinking, avoiding being around a certain person, being exceptionally quiet at times, zoning out a lot.

Ques. Can relationships cause trauma too?
Ans. Yes, in recent times study shows that relationships are one of the major causes of trauma. Being in a relationship people mostly ignore red flags about a person initially. Issues like drinking problems, abusive language, not asking consent, anger management issues, violence, etc are usually ignored by the partner in the early stages of being together.

Ques. Does trauma have a cure?
Ans. Trauma can have long-term effects on the mental, emotional, spiritual, physical state. Talking to someone trusted and opening up about your experience, facing your fears is a way to let go of the trauma. In chronic cases, professional help can be acquired by the person.

Ques. Does trauma change personality?
Ans. Yes, trauma is capable of changing one’s personality. Trauma can be linked to personality disorders in various cases.

Ques. What is PTSD?
Ans. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition where triggers may cause bringing back memories or flashbacks of incidents related to the traumatic event.

Trauma could be about any incident that harms one’s peace and mindset. If an individual finds it difficult to share about the experience they might seek personal and professional help. It is normal to feel a different kind of way about things but what’s more important is getting over it and moving past such experiences.

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