What is trauma?

What is trauma?

Trauma is any type of painful event or experience that can affect a person’s ability to cope and function. Trauma can cause emotional, physical, and psychological damage. Many people experience some kind of traumatic event at some point in their lives—from the accidental death of a loved one to a motor vehicle accident.

However, not everyone suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a traumatic event.Although someone may not suffer from PTSD, they may still experience PTSD-like symptoms immediately after a traumatic event. Many of these symptoms are actually common reactions to traumatic events.

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Trauma has many forms and forms, but there are some common scenarios that are generally considered traumatic. The types of traumatic events that a person may experience at some point in life include:

  • Abuse
  • assault
  • Car accident
  • Death of a loved one
  • divorce
  • Abandoned by family or parents
  • Imprisonment
  • unemployment
  • natural disaster
  • Physical injury
  • rape
  • Serious illness
  • terrorism
  • Violence
  • Witness a crime, accident or death

Trauma usually falls into one of three different categories. Some traumas, such as accidents or natural disasters, are one-time events of limited duration and scope. Other traumas are long-lasting and continuous, such as coping with chronic diseases or dealing with repeated domestic abuse. There are also some types of trauma that are often overlooked, such as those that occur during childbirth or surgery.


So, what are “normal” symptoms and “abnormal” trauma symptoms? This is difficult to answer because everyone responds differently to traumatic events.

However, some common symptoms may appear after a traumatic event. The following are some common reactions to trauma:

  • Intrusive thoughts and memories: After a traumatic event, you usually experience some intrusive thoughts and memories of the traumatic event. This situation is especially likely to happen when you encounter something that reminds you of a traumatic event (for example, a person, a place, or an image).
  • Hypervigilance: After a traumatic event, it is natural to feel more vigilant and aware of the surrounding environment. This is actually a very protective symptom because your body is trying to protect your safety by making you more aware of threats and potential sources of danger. This natural safety mechanism becomes more sensitive after a traumatic event.
  • Excessive awakening: Just as you may be more vigilant, you may also feel more tense and nervous after a traumatic event. This is again part of your body’s natural protection system. Fear and anxiety tell us that there is a certain danger, and all the physical sensations that accompany fear and anxiety are essentially to help us cope with this danger. They are preparing us to escape, freeze or fight. After a traumatic event, your body’s alarm system will become more sensitive to protect you from future traumatic events.
  • Feeling insecure: After a traumatic event, it is understandable that our assumption that the world is a safe and secure place is broken. Therefore, people may feel as if any situation or place is potentially dangerous. A place or situation where you once felt safe may now feel threatened and cause anxiety. This is especially likely to happen in situations or places that remind you of your traumatic event.

“Normal” traumatic response and PTSD

When you read about some common symptoms after a traumatic event, you will notice that most of them are also symptoms of PTSD. It is important to remember that having these symptoms does not mean that you have PTSD.

  • Although the following symptoms can be distressing, they are usually much more severe than the symptoms in PTSD.
  • PTSD cannot be diagnosed until at least 30 days after the traumatic event, because many PTSD-like symptoms are actually part of your body’s natural response to the traumatic event, and for many people, these symptoms will go on over time Gradually reduce.

Symptoms to watch out for

The symptoms below may indicate that you may be at risk for PTSD.They may cause the expected trauma symptoms listed above to become worse and eventually lead to PTSD. Therefore, it is very important to understand the following symptoms:

  • Loss of interest: It is important to pay attention to the loss of interest in activities that you once enjoyed and the feeling of alienation from others. This symptom may indicate that you are at risk for depression. This symptom may also cause you to isolate yourself from others, including important sources of social support.
  • Avoidance: It is common to avoid certain situations, activities or people after a traumatic event. However, you must pay attention to avoidance behavior. Avoidance usually leads to more avoidance because it reinforces the belief that the world is not a safe place. This avoidance can cause symptoms to worsen and eventually lead to PTSD.
  • Unhealthy coping behaviors: Just as avoiding activities, situations, or people may have problems, avoiding thoughts and feelings can also be problematic. The symptoms that people experience after a traumatic event can be very distressing. Therefore, people may rely on unhealthy coping strategies (for example, the use of substances) to avoid these symptoms. Evasion is only a short-term solution. In the long run, it actually makes your feelings and thoughts stronger.


If you have symptoms of trauma, you may be diagnosed with conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder. However, it is important to remember that not all traumatic experiences lead to the diagnosis of trauma-related diseases. When you talk to your doctor or mental health professional, they will ask about the symptoms you are experiencing and when the trauma occurred.

If you still experience symptoms after a period of time, and these symptoms have a significant impact on your daily life, your doctor will check whether you meet the diagnostic criteria for trauma or stress-related diseases or possibly adjustment disorders, depending on your symptoms The exact nature.


If you have experienced trauma, talking with a therapist may be helpful. Try to seek advice from your doctor or loved ones. There are also several websites that offer free searches to help you find the right mental health provider in your area through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The therapist can provide support and help you better understand the symptoms you are experiencing.

Treatment will depend on your symptoms due to the trauma. It may involve psychotherapy, medication, self-care, or a combination of these methods. Treatment usually focuses on helping people integrate their emotional responses to trauma and resolve any mental health conditions that result from them, such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD.


Treatment may involve the use of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help people evaluate thoughts and feelings related to trauma and replace negative thoughts with more realistic thoughts.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is another method that uses CBT elements in conjunction with eye or body movement.


If you are diagnosed with PTSD due to trauma, some medications may also help. These medications may include:

  • Antidepressants, including serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), such as Paxil (paroxetine) and Zoloft (sertraline), both of which have been approved by the FDA for the treatment of PTSD
  • Anti-anxiety drugs, such as benzodiazepines, including Valium (diazepam) and Ativan (lorazepam)


After experiencing a traumatic event, it is very important to develop healthy coping strategies, such as using social support, and to minimize unhealthy coping strategies, such as avoiding through alcohol or drugs.

There are a few things you can do to help deal with and cope with trauma:

  • Verify your feelings. You don’t have to force yourself to talk about your feelings with others; however, it’s important that you don’t try to push away your feelings.
  • Find a support group where you can talk to other people who have similar experiences.
  • Give yourself time to deal with your feelings. Don’t expect these feelings to disappear overnight. At the same time, relax yourself.
  • Take care of your body. Eat nutritious meals regularly, get enough rest as much as possible, and get regular physical exercise.
  • Spend time with friends and family. Even though you may want to be alone, isolating yourself can make it harder for you to cope with the effects of trauma. Let yourself depend on people who care and support you.

Establishing regular routines or timetables may also help. Traumatic events can greatly disrupt a person’s life. They may make a person feel that their life is out of control and unpredictable. A regular schedule can help you bring some order and predictability to your life.

Although sticking to routines will not eliminate the anxiety associated with traumatic events, it may help address other sources of anxiety in your life. When setting a schedule, it is important to allow time to focus on self-care activities;Avoid using your schedule as a way of simply staying busy (for example, fully engaged in work), lest you have time to think about traumatic events.