Psychological trauma is experienced when the body or mind is overwhelmed by a distressing event or series of events, making the survivor feel completely overwhelmed or unable to cope. Because psychological trauma is the mind’s reaction to a given event, not everyone will react in the same way to the same event; so that what is traumatic for some won’t necessarily be traumatic for others. Moreover, trauma effects people differently and can take weeks, months or in some cases years to surface. There are different levels of severity when it comes to psychological trauma, so while some symptoms may be mild and be easier to process over time, other symptoms are more severe and will require professional help. However, it is always advisable to seek treatment for trauma before more severe symptoms set in.
What Are The Symptoms Of Psychological Trauma?
Psychological trauma contains three main elements regardless of its source; it was unexpected, the person was unprepared and there was nothing that the person could do to prevent the event from happening. However, the symptoms of trauma will vary depending on the person and the severity of the traumatic event. What’s important to realise is that there is no right or wrong way to respond to trauma; if you or a loved one has experienced a trauma their reaction will be a normal reaction to an abnormal event, and as such should be approached with non-judgement. The following are some of the more common physical and emotional responses to trauma:
- Shock, disbelief and denial
- Depression or a sense of hopelessness
- Feeling disconnected, numb or emotional detachment
- Mood swings, anger or irritability
- Guilt, self-blame, shame or a loss of self-esteem
- Feeling emotionally overwhelmed
- Confusion or difficulty concentrating
- Anxiety and extreme fear
- Flashbacks of the event often accompanied with insomnia
- Muscle tension and aches and pains
- Easily startled and racing heartbeat
The longer the symptoms of psychological trauma go untreated, the more severe the psychological damage they could cause. It is therefore very important that a person who has experiences a trauma seeks professional help to guide them through the healing process.
Seeking Help to Treat Psychological Trauma
Each person reacts differently to traumatic events, so it is vital not to compare your reaction to others’, even if they have experienced the same event. If you have experienced any of the symptoms listed above, it is important that you seek professional help. Seeking professional help as soon as possible will give you the best chance at working through your trauma so that you can get back to living as normal a life as possible. It is particularly important for you to seek help if you feel unable to form or maintain relationships, feel unable to function in daily life, experience severe flashbacks, feel emotionally numb, you are suffering from a stress of anxiety disorder as a result of the trauma or you have taken to self-medicating with drugs or alcohol.
There are many options for trauma counselling, what is important is that you find a method that works for you. Most treatments involve acknowledging and then processing trauma-related memories so that you can come to terms with the event and your emotions surrounding it. With trauma counselling, you will be able to start thriving in your life again, rather than simply surviving. However, it is important to recognise that trauma counselling is usually long-term therapy so that you can process your emotions safely and slowly, without the risk of overwhelming yourself.
It is important to get expert help to overcome trauma. Contact Louw Alberts in the Centurion and Pretoria area.