The Importance of Tackling Trauma
Trauma. We all have an idea of what constitutes trauma — military front lines, a horrific accident, a near-death experience — but few of us recognize the multiplicity of ways beyond the extreme that we can be traumatized. Yes, it can be the big, single moments that are pivotal in our lives. But it can also be the daily mundane, soul-sucking things which lead to trauma. Regardless of whether it is “big T” Trauma or “little t” trauma, trauma affects us all, simply to varying extents. The relationship between trauma and mental health and wellness cannot be denied.
The relationship between trauma and mental health and wellness cannot be denied.
What Is Trauma?
Trauma can be one single event or a series of traumatic incidents that are repeated over time, causing you to become overwhelmed with painful, frightening, or loathing emotions. “We have learned that trauma is not just an event that took place sometime in the past; it is also the imprint left by that experience on mind, brain, and body,” writes trauma therapy pioneer and Meadows Senior Fellow Dr. Bessel van der Kolk in The Body Keeps the Score. “This imprint has ongoing consequences for how the human organism manages to survive in the present … It changes not only how we think and what we think about, but also our very capacity to think.”
The symptoms of trauma are vast and wide, especially taking into consideration the variety of experiences that can be traumatic. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Difficulty creating and maintaining healthy relationships
- Low self-efficacy and low self-esteem
- Addiction struggles
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Other mental health issues
- Physical health issues
- Inability to focus
- Problems at school and/or work
- Unhealthy sleeping patterns
“Big T” and “Little t” trauma
“Big T” trauma is the type of trauma we often think of when trauma comes to mind. Examples of Trauma (Big T) would be war, rape, a near-death experience, or surviving a natural disaster. These traumas are big and life-altering. This type of trauma is often associated with PTSD. In short, the ability to regain normalcy after a big T Trauma can be quite difficult.
“Little t” traumas still affect your life, and the pain from them can be deeply rooted. Examples of trauma (little t) can be the loss of a job, a significant breakup, experiencing bullying, etc. These traumas linger in your psyche and can take a significant toll on your mental health.
Types of Trauma
Research shared by the Natural Appraise on Mental Illness (NAMI) details three types of trauma:
- Physical trauma — a type of trauma rooted in a physical injury which can have lasting physical effects on the body
- Emotional trauma — a trauma, emotional or physical, which produces a strong emotional response afterwards
- Psychological trauma — a type of trauma where your ability to trust yourself or others is adversely affected
It is important to note that some instances, such as rape or being physically abused, can cause you to experience all three types of trauma. When trauma is continual or repeatedly occurs, this leads to complex trauma which increases the likelihood of experiencing all types of trauma.
Many of us experience trauma in childhood when we are not yet developmentally able to recognize the depth of the trauma. Examples of childhood trauma include the loss of a significant loved one, divorcing parents, bullying, sexual molestation, taking care of a parent as a child, etc. When you experience these events at a young age while your brain is still developing, your sense of self and the world are not solidified, it can wreak havoc on your ability to cope. Feelings of distrust, fear, and powerlessness begin taking root early on.
Trauma Leads to Other Mental Health Conditions
PTSD is not the only mental illness that trauma triggers. Trauma can be a catalyst for depression and anxiety, reports NAMI. With depression, a person will experience a sense of hopelessness and deep sadness. This feeling is not just emotional and psychological, but physical as well. If you are battling depression, you may often find yourself fatigued and restless. With anxiety, you experience varying levels of fear and stress around circumstances outside of your control. This anxiety can be general, or it can manifest into panic attacks and phobias. Either way, it affects your day-to-day life.
There Is Hope
The list of symptoms can be daunting. As can overcoming trauma. For many, the task of overcoming trauma feels impossible. But it isn’t. Not only can you overcome your trauma, but you can experience post-traumatic growth as well. According to Healthline.com, post-traumatic growth happens when you redeem your trauma in many ways. When you find a way to appreciate life more, you have an increased capacity to empathize with others and your relationships are strengthened. You can find an unknown core of strength and resilience you did not know you had prior to the trauma.
For many, the task of overcoming trauma feels impossible. But it isn’t. Not only can you overcome your trauma, but you can experience post-traumatic growth as well.
Healing from trauma can take time, but it is time worth investing in yourself. Trauma-informed care is mental and physical healthcare provided to those who have experienced trauma. It is sensitive to the triggers and burdens of trauma and delicately helps you navigate the windy road of healing. Here at The Meadows Outpatient Center, our trauma-informed care will help equip you with the coping skills and self-awareness you need so you can heal and regain control of your life. As one of the country’s premiere trauma treatment centers, we are unique in our ability to help you achieve not just temporary relief but lasting recovery. Reach out today to learn more.