Causes of trauma
Typical causes include; harassment, abandonment, abusive relationships, rejection, co-dependence, physical assault, sexual abuse or sexual assault, partner violence, police brutality, bullying, family violence, being the victim of an abusive parent (emotionally, physically or sexually), the threat or the witnessing of violence (particularly in childhood), and life-threatening medical conditions.
Other traumatic events include things like catastrophic natural disasters such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, large-scale transportation accidents.
Other causes could be related to fire, motor vehicle accident, mass interpersonal violence like war, terrorist attacks or other mass tortures like sex trafficking, being taken as a hostage or kidnapped.
These are some of the most common events that can cause psychological trauma. Often people who have protective factors like friends and family support and psychological robustness are able to recover from an event.
It can cause ongoing psychological problems. It will affect a person’s sense of safety, confidence in themselves and their ability to regulate their own emotions. Many mental health conditions have their roots in a person trying to adapt to or deal with past trauma.
Some of the most common mental health issues that happen as a result of experiencing a traumatic event are; Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Depression, Anxiety or Substance Abuse.
To find out more about any of these mental health issues, and what we can do to help please see the supporting blog posts.
Possible mental health issues resulting from trauma
It can cause ongoing psychological problems. It can also affect a person’s sense of safety, self and self-efficacy as well as their ability to regulate their own emotions. Some of the most common mental health issues that happen as a result of experiencing a traumatic event are; Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Depression, Anxiety or Substance Abuse.
If you are interested in finding out more about any of these mental health issues please see the supporting blog posts.
Symptoms of trauma
The severity of symptoms varies widely. Some common reactions include:
- Re-experiencing the trauma mentally and physically
- The mind becomes fixated on thinking about the event over and over.
- Compulsive or obsessive behaviours
Reminders of the trauma are called triggers, which remind the person of the traumatic event. Triggers can cause flashbacks which is a dissociative event, where a person feels as though the event is happening to them again in the present.
It can be mild like remembering the event, or severe like a complete immersion in the memory and not being aware of the present.
Sometimes people try and manage these triggers or negative effects by using alcohol, illegal drugs, gambling etc. to try and escape or numb the intense feelings. Reminding triggers can also cause anxiety and other emotions like fear, dread, anxiety, panic etc.
The person may be aware of triggers, but at other times they may be completely unaware of what these triggers are. Another effect of a traumatic event may be Panic attacks, which may be a psychosomatic response to the emotional trigger. Some other commonly experienced feelings are anger coming to the surface, sometimes inappropriately and unexpectedly. Another common symptom is nightmares or even insomnia where the person is hyper-vigilant and on the lookout for danger.
A symptom that happens with people who have experienced childhood trauma is that the person has difficulty remembering the trauma or has large gaps in their memory. This results in the person re-experiencing emotions experienced during the trauma in the present without understanding why. This can cause many other psychological and physical symptoms. If this continues without treatment a person can become extremely emotionally exhausted.
Some people who are not able to resolve the symptoms of trauma either naturally or with therapy may feel permanently damaged or lose hope that things will ever change. This can lead to feelings of despair, hopelessness, helplessness, loss of self-esteem, emptiness, suicidality and depression. Some common symptoms include:
- Intrusive thoughts
- Feelings of anger, guilt or shame
- Feeling overwhelmed easily
- Up and down moods
- Psychosomatic symptoms (for example. stomach pain or upset stomach, chest pain, neck pain, back pain, headaches)
- Poor self-esteem and self-worth
- Weight issues (eg emotional eating)
- Depression and anxiety
- Panic attacks
- Alcohol or other substance addiction
- Self harm (for example cutting)
- Heightened startle response
- Poor concentration
- Emotional numbing or dissociation
- Eating disorders
There may be other symptoms you experience that are not listed above that you experience.