Trauma is the body's response to surviving a horrible event such as abuse, a natural disaster, or a car accident, among other horrific experiences.
Whether the traumatic incident happened once or has been a pattern of repeated distressing events, trauma can cause severe mental and physical difficulties in the aftermath.
Immediately following a trauma, it is common to feel a sense of numbness or disbelief that the event has occurred. It is also common to experience shock, which can lead to feeling detached.
Within a few days after a traumatic event, the numbness wears off. You may notice changes in your emotions. You may experience:
Anxiety: You may feel you are on high alert for danger in case the situation should occur again, or you might feel the need to stay strong for other people and to control your emotions.
Sadness: You may feel extremely upset by what has occurred. You might have crying spells or periods of deep emotional turmoil as you try to cope with what has happened.
Anger: You may feel anger towards the person who caused harm, or you may even feel anger within yourself for not stopping it, whether it was possible for you to do so or not.
Avoidance: You may try to avoid thinking of the event entirely and avoiding places and people that remind you of what happened.
The effects of trauma aren't just emotional, and you may notice that the trauma has affected your body as well. You may experience:
Body tremors: You may notice a tremble in your hands or your legs, making it hard for you to go about your daily tasks such as writing or even walking.
Poor concentration: You may feel very detached and unable to concentrate on things like reading, watching TV, or holding a conversation.
Appetite changes: You may notice yourself eating too much or too little following a traumatic event, or you may suddenly realize you have gained or lost a lot of weight. Trauma can make it hard to regulate appetite and your body.
Insomnia: You may be afraid to sleep or have too many thoughts running through your brain. You might have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep. You might also wake up much earlier than usual.
Fatigue: Fatigue goes hand in hand with insomnia. You may be exhausted even in the middle of the day and feel you can never get adequate rest. This can have an adverse effect on your life and well-being.
Nightmares: Even when you can sleep, it might not be restful sleep due to the occurrence of nightmares. Nightmares are common after a traumatic event, and they sometimes can remain for months or years.
With proper help, trauma's emotional and physical effects will usually lessen over time, but it's vital to be proactive and take care of yourself in order to heal.
How To Heal
It can help to have a routine of eating at mealtimes, going to bed at the same hour every night, and incorporating exercise if you have enough energy.
While you adjust to getting back to life after a traumatic event, be patient with yourself. Healing comes in its own time. Spend some time alone, which can be beneficial, but don't isolate yourself as this can often make things worse. Spend some time with friends or family that make you feel safe.
The most important thing to do is to talk about it. It's okay to be emotional or afraid when you discuss what happened, and it's okay to take it at your own pace if you're not in a place to share details just yet. Simply opening up the conversation can do wonders for your physical and mental health.
Seeking help and support is one of the first steps to healing.
How We Can Help
If you or someone you know has experienced trauma, there is help available. Contact us today at Strong Therapy and Community Support. We offer counseling and therapy designed to fit your specific needs in a safe, friendly, and non-judgmental environment. No one should ever have to cope with trauma alone.