You have experienced something significant and distressing but is it really a “trauma”? Trauma is a word that people tend to throw around pretty liberally these days. For instance, you’ve probably seen someone post on social media about how traumatic missing a big concert was or how traumatic having to prepare to speak in public may be. What is the difference between an event that is distressing and upsetting versus an actual trauma? What classifies as trauma? Definitions of trauma can range from narrow to broad, so how do you know if you have indeed traumatized?
The Definition of Trauma
- Something really scary happened, or the threat of something really scary happened.
- You had very limited or no control over this moment.
- This particular event exceeded your ability to handle or cope with the situation.
Some examples of trauma include a natural disaster (earthquake, tornado, hurricane), a car accident, or witnessing a violent crime. These are all examples of traumas that usually occur once in a lifetime, what we call simple traumas. A simple trauma, in fact, is not simple at all and regardless of occurrence can be devastating and affect your mental health.
At the other end of the spectrum are complex traumas. Traumas that happen repeatedly are called complex traumas. These are situations like ongoing abuse which may be verbal, physical, emotional or sexual. Witnessing or being a victim of domestic violence is an example of a complex trauma.
The term trauma is also used in the medical field. A severe injury to your body (like burns, or broken bones, or brain injury) can be considered a trauma. Trauma’s that affect your body are important to treat, just like traumas that affect your brain. Medical interventions treat physical trauma, but the emotional brain is just as impacted by these moments, and it is important to seek proper support from a mental health professional.
Signs and Symptoms of Trauma or PTSD
In most cases, traumatic events do not happen very often. So when they do, they can leave us feeling lost, alone, and unaware of our own surroundings. Oftentimes, someone that has experienced a traumatic event, and has not been able to cope, may be diagnosed with PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Someone with PTSD may suffer from nightmares, reliving the experience, thoughts about the experience that will not go away, negative moods and thoughts, and always seem to be on edge. While this is not an exhaustive list, if you have noticed these symptoms after a traumatic moment, it may be time to consult a mental health professional. For a more detail explanation of PTSD, click here.
The truth about trauma is that it’s going to affect every person differently. While somebody may have flashbacks about a particular incident, another person who experienced the same type of trauma may not have any symptoms at all. However you are experience the traumatic event, it can really help you move forward to speak with a trained professional.
What To Do After a Traumatic Experience
If you have experienced something traumatic, it is important to be kind to yourself. Whatever your symptoms, most likely your brain was/is trying to protect you. You are not broken, but you may need help to overcome what you have experienced. The most courageous thing you can do for yourself is to ask for help. We are here to walk beside you as you begin to heal. Give us a call today–you don’t have to go through this alone. For further tips on how to be kind to yourself when recovering from trauma, stay tuned for my next blog post!
Begin Trauma Therapy at Wellview Counseling
Your trauma does not have to define you forever. Counseling can help restore your wellbeing and begin enjoying life to the fullest again. To start your counseling journey at our Roswell, GA office, follow these simple steps:
- Give us a call or email us using our contact form to request an appointment.
- We will help you arrange an appointment to meet one of our trained professionals.
- Begin to feel better and recover from your trauma.
Other Therapeutic Services at Wellview Counseling
If there are other concerns you have, Wellview Counseling may be able to assist. Our therapists see people for a variety of issues, including play therapy for your little ones, teen counseling, and a parent support group. We provide generalized anxiety treatment as well as treatment for postpartum depression.
Kallie is one of the caring therapists at Wellview Counseling. If you or a loved one is struggling with trauma, Kallie would love to help.