How Does Psychological Trauma Affect People?

Psychological trauma is damage that occurs to a person’s psyche as the result of a traumatic event.  A traumatic event can be a single experience or one that consists of repeated events that overwhelm someone beyond his or her means of coping. However, the actual effects of the trauma may be delayed for years before a person actually experiences the symptoms.

Psychological Trauma may be the result of exposure to natural disasters, war, abuse, rape, assault, death, or any situation which is beyond the scope of normal, everyday experience.

In many cases, psychological trauma occurs when there is some sort of physical trauma involved.  But, it is important to understand that people perceive and experience things differently.  Not all people who experience trauma cope the same way, and, so, it is important to know the symptoms of abnormal coping so that proper help can be sought.

The symptoms of psychological trauma may include:

• A person may re-experience the trauma through flashbacks.

• Intense feelings of anger may come about.

• A person may experience blockages in their memory surrounding the event.

• A person may feel emotionally exhausted.

• A feeling of permanent damage may come about.  A person may feel that they are damaged beyond repair.

• Dissociating from painful emotion by numbing of all emotion.

• A person may experience insomnia.

These are some of the symptoms that an individual may experience when exposed to trauma.  Since people cope with trauma differently, they may experience these symptoms or other symptoms such as mood swings and depression.

It is important to seek out a licensed mental health professional to work through emotional problems resulting from traumatic exposure.  Psychotherapy can be extremely helpful in helping individuals work through the pain associated with traumatic exposure; sometimes, prescribed medications can assist the healing process.  Often times, a combination approach produces the most lasting, effective results.

Coping With Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD as it is commonly called, is classified as an Anxiety Disorder in which an individual experiences intense fear, helplessness, horror, flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, and/or distressing sensory experiences associated with a traumatic event(s) that were experienced previously. There are numerous types of events that can trigger symptoms of PTSD including exposure to war, torture, rape, child sexual assaults, terrorism, a major car accident, living with a fatal illness, a natural disaster, witnessing a death, finding someone dead, or being physically assaulted.  These are only some of the types of experiences that can trigger PTSD.

The common denominator in experiences that may trigger symptoms of PTSD is that they are believed to be beyond the scope of normal human experience and are, in some way, associated with intense fear, horror, or panic in the person who endured the traumatic event(s).

The symptoms of PTSD vary in severity.  Some of the more common symptoms include nightmares about the event, trouble sleeping, recurring distressing thoughts or images, intense psychological distress where memories of the event are triggered, sweating, muscle twitching and rapid heartbeat.  Some people will go through sprouts of unexplained anger or irritability and will be on alert for danger. Still others will have symptoms of guilt or feel a sense of “depersonalization” where they feel a sense of detachment from others – like they been tainted by the trauma and are no longer the same person they used to be before the traumatic experience.

Many people dealing with PTSD will seem fine on the outside and, instead, will bottle up their feelings or emotions. This type of reaction to traumatic experiences are often classified as an avoidance reaction and includes resorting to drug and alcohol use in an attempt to block out the painful memories, avoiding people and places, losing interest in activities that were previously enjoyable before the traumatic event(s), and being unable to feel joyous or loving feelings. Many sufferers will also feel detached from society and feel a sense of hopelessness.

PTSD is a treatable psychological disorder. There are ways, often through a combination of medication management and psychotherapy, to overcome the crippling effects of PTSD. Treatment often comes through working through the painful memories and, by improving coping skills and mental attitude in the present day, learning a new, healthier perspective on the person one has become. The key is to get professional help and not suffer alone.