Unlike simple stress, trauma changes your view of your life and yourself. It shatters your most basic assumptions about yourself and your world — “Life is good,” “I’m safe,” “People are kind,” “I can trust others,” “The future is likely to be good” — and replaces them with feelings like “The world is dangerous,” “I can’t win,” “I can’t trust other people,” or “There’s no hope.”― Mark Goulston MD
Clinically we define Trauma as a set of responses to any event, perceived or real, which is deeply distressing or disturbing. Trauma overwhelms an individual’s ability to cope, causes hyper-vigilance and creates feelings of helplessness. It also robs a person’s sense of self and their ability to fully feel a wide range of emotions and experiences. These effects can be felt throughout a person’s life if they don’t receive treatment.
Response to a traumatic event varies significantly among people, but there are some common symptoms which include:
Emotional signs of trauma include:
- Anxiety and Depression
Other symptoms include:
- Difficulty with relationships
- Emotional outbursts
- Inability to advocate for yourself
Common physical symptoms:
- Altered sleep patterns
- Changes in appetite
- Gastrointestinal problems
As PTSD is defined as a response to any situation that overwhelms a person’s ability to cope, there are no objective criteria to evaluate which events will cause post-trauma symptoms. However, circumstances usually involve the loss of control, betrayal, abuse of power, helplessness, pain, confusion and/or loss. The event doesn’t need to involve war, natural disaster or assault to affect a person. Traumatic situations which cause post-trauma symptoms vary and are very subjective.