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  • Writer's pictureEmily Barrett

The Impact of Trauma

Understanding the effects of trauma and seeking help can be a difficult task. Healing from the past is possible and you don't have to go through it alone.

When people hear the word trauma, they often associate it with pivotal, intense events that leave a visible impact (i.e. a vehicle accident). While these big events are indeed traumatic, research now tells us that trauma isn't what happens to us, but how our system responds to it. Many circumstances can cause a trauma response to show up in our brains and bodies when we lack autonomy, choice, or support. These responses can impact the way we function on a day-to-day basis, how we handle relationships, and how we perceive ourselves.

What is Trauma?

When we are deeply distressed or disturbed by something, our psychological, emotional, and physical responses can register this as trauma. Major traumatic events could include losing a loved one, getting into an accident or receiving a major diagnosis.

Studies in the field of trauma have discovered that events that appear less intense can also trigger a trauma response, including experiences like childhood bullying, struggles in school, interpersonal conflict and breakups. Everyone processes traumatic events in different ways, and there is no definitive answer to what makes something traumatic or not. What matters most is the way your experiences have made you feel, how it impacts your daily life, and knowing where you can seek help.

What Are the Symptoms?

In cases of both large and small scale traumatic events, our systems respond with a variety of short and long term symptoms.

Whether the event is recent or from the past, traumatic symptoms can look like:

  • Shock or denial

  • Inability to control emotions easily (I.e. crying often, short temper, or low mood)

  • Feeling hopeless and isolated

  • Feeling shame and guilt

  • Physical symptoms: headaches, body pain, nausea

  • Fear of the event happening again

  • Flashbacks

A Way Forward

Experiencing trauma and the symptoms that accompany it can feel overwhelming and isolating. It is important to remember that there is a way forward when it comes to healing from these impactful events and it is possible to live a full life, free from the symptoms that are keeping you down. Therapy is a helpful intervention for those dealing with something traumatic, as it provides you with tools and strategies to become more resilient, to recognize your own strength, and to build the confidence you need to feel like yourself again.

A version of this article was originally published on by the same author

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