The mental effects of trauma can be short-lived or long-lasting, but they aren’t uncommon because traumatic experiences aren’t rare. If you’ve experienced trauma, you aren’t alone. The National Council for Behavioral Health reports that 70% of adults have experienced at least one traumatic event.
An article on various types of trauma explains that one way to categorize traumatic events is to think of them as big T traumas or little t traumas. Big T traumatic events are things that almost everyone would recognize as being problematic, such as abuse, accidents and terrorism. Little t traumas, such as moving or growing up in a home with a lot of arguing, may have a smaller emotional impact on their own, but they add up and can have a cumulative effect.
The Mental Effects of Trauma
People can react to the same event in different ways. You may also react to a similar event differently at other times in your life. The amount of support and emotional resources you have at the time the event occurs makes a difference. Biochemical differences, such as the reactivity of your sympathetic nervous system, also play a role in your emotional response.
The effects of trauma and how long they last depend on many factors. Children often have the most significant effects because their brains and mastery of coping skills are still developing. It’s not uncommon to have a racing heart, fast breathing, shakiness, trouble sleeping or muscle tension. Mental effects include anxiety, confusion, a feeling of numbness and disconnection, being easily startled, guilt and anger.
Often, the effects of trauma fade over time unless triggered by things that remind you of the situation. Sometimes they don’t completely fade, and people develop post-traumatic stress disorder. An article on surviving emotional trauma notes that traumatic events can also contribute to mental health disorders like depression and anxiety. People may misuse alcohol and drugs in an attempt to manage trauma symptoms.
Delayed Trauma Response
You may have a delayed response to a traumatic event that’s obviously tied to it, such as when you have flashbacks or nightmares related to what happened to you. Sometimes, though, you’ll have symptoms that are harder to connect to your experience.
A trauma-informed counselor can help you determine whether the mental health symptoms you’re experiencing may be tied to past trauma, either of the big T or little t variety. A publication on trauma-informed care notes that a practitioner can help you heal your trauma and address delayed trauma responses in many ways. These include creating a safe environment, understanding and identifying your triggers, determining your sources of support and building on them and developing coping strategies.
Practices that help calm the fight-or-flight response, such as meditation and breathing exercises, are often very helpful. Some people will benefit from trauma-focused therapy like eye-movement desensitization and reprogramming (EMDR).
We take trauma, of both the big T and little t variety, seriously. We want you to feel safe and in control, and our counselors work hard to make sure you do. Let us help you find freedom from the effects of your experiences. Call us today at 1.844.675.1022.