One of the most over utilized words in society today is the word trauma.  It is misused, misinterpreted, and frankly misunderstood.  Psychological trauma is defined as a type of damage to the mind that occurs as a result of a severely distressing event.  It is often the result of an overwhelming amount of stress that exceeds one’s ability to cope, or integrate the emotions involved with that experience.

It can manifest in different forms, and not all of them look the same.  It can be broken down into four categories:

  • Acute
  • Complex
  • Chronic
  • Vicarious

Acute 

Defined as an unanticipated single event such as a car accident, physical attack, or an occurrence that threatens physical or emotional safety.   Acute trauma could also happen upon witnessing a traumatic event thus inducing a strong emotional response.

Complex 

Follows a repeated exposure of extreme events that typically produce more severe problems.  It is described as having multiple trauma experiences that often sever normally integrated brain functioning by shutting down the “thinking brain” causing the brain to be in a constant fight or flight situation.

Chronic 

Chronic trauma results from multiple and pervasive violent or sexually explicit events beginning at an early age, and continuing for years.

Vicarious 

This is the emotional residue that comes from witnessing a trauma while experiencing the pain, fear, and terror that the survivor themselves endures.

RESPONSE

The best way to respond to trauma will be different for every individual.  It also greatly depends on the type, and to the extent it was experienced.   There are many techniques when applied that can often be beneficial in combating the effects of trauma; some include:

  • Reassure yourself that the traumatic event is over, that you are safe now, and that seeing mental images of the events is normal and will decrease over time.
  • Allow yourself time to be alone. However, if your mood is not improving when alone, it may be better to seek company.
  • If you are feeling alone or isolated, spend some time with friends or family.
  • Express your thoughts and feelings by talking to friends and family, and write or listen to music.
  • Give yourself time to recover and rest.
  • Try to get back to your normal routine when possible.
  • Take care of your health as best you can; eat healthy and drink plenty of water.
  • Watch out for increased use of alcohol or abuse of substances.
  • Be aware of how much tea and coffee you are drinking. These may further agitate your body when it is already under stress.
  • Regular exercise is effective with controlling stress and aiding in a productive sleep cycle.

Therapy

Therapy is a wonderful resource to utilize when dealing with an unprocessed traumatic event or circumstance.  Working through trauma with a trusted clinician can help a client to recognize where they are struggling, alter dysfunctional thinking, locate available resources, and formulate a more constructive trauma ending.  If you or someone you know is struggling with trauma, we are here for you!  You can contact us here or call  us at 832-421-8714.