EIGHT SIGNS THAT INDICATE YOU MAY BE EXPERIENCING A TRAUMA REACTION

DENISE L. LUCIA, PHD • 2018 • BLOG POST

Acute Stress Reaction is a normal response in the initial days and weeks following exposure to a trauma. If symptoms last longer than one month and cause significant impact in daily functioning, then a person may be experiencing Posttraumatic Stress. A trauma is when a person is exposed to, or witness to, actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence. Symptoms can also occur if a person learned of a trauma that happened to a close family member or friend.

Examples of trauma may include, but are not limited to: experiencing or witnessing in others domestic violence; survivor of sexual assault or physical/emotional/sexual abuse; involvement in a car accident, natural disaster, or active shooter situation; combat military related trauma; non-combat military related trauma (i.e., constant threat of loss of life where stationed, exposure to dead bodies, search and recovery, traveling outside the wire); occupational related trauma for first responders, firefighters, or police officers (i.e., threat of loss of life, collecting human remains, or repeated exposure to details of child abuse).

EIGHT COMMON SIGNS OF TRAUMA

1. Nightmares or Bizarre Dreams

2. Recurring Thoughts or Images of Trauma that Cause Distress

3. Feeling On-Edge/Tense, Scared, Jumpy, Hyper Alert of Surroundings

4. Angry, Irritable, Low Patience

5. Low Mood, Lack of Life Enjoyment, Feelings of Guilt or Shame

6. Very Limited Trust in Others and Think the World is an Unsafe Place

7. Avoidance of Thoughts/Places/Events that Serve as Reminders of Trauma

8. Isolation and Withdrawal and Decreased Intimacy with Partner/Friends

TREATMENT FOR TRAUMA

Exposure to trauma elicits a natural and primal response in all humans. The way your body/mind is responding is a NORMAL response to an abnormal event(s). You are not a weak person, and you are not going crazy. This primal response is called fight-flight-freeze. Even though you rationally know the trauma is over, your body/mind does not understand that the threat is gone.

Depending on whether you may need formal intervention and therapy, depends on your current level of support, the way you think about the trauma and your actions/role in the event, if you experienced physical injury, cumulative stressors in other areas, the types of coping strategies you have, and the presence of past/current mental illness. If your symptoms persist and impact function, it is recommended you seek professional help and start therapy to address your symptoms so that you can start to experience increased quality of life and improved daily functioning.

The recommended approach for treating trauma includes evidenced based interventions (grounded in research) that may include, but are not limited to:

• Education about Trauma Symptoms, Course of Treatment, Normalization
• Relaxation Training and Developing Healthy Coping Strategies
• Breathing Retraining
• Decreasing Avoidance/Relearning
• Identifying and Challenging Irrational/Unhelpful Thoughts
• Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)

In therapy, you and your therapist will determine the level of intervention and treatment that is clinically indicated given your trauma exposure and symptoms. You will go at a pace that feels safe, and treatment progress will be monitored at each session using data derived from standardized screening measures.