Trauma is a generalized term that refers to an experience that was emotionally painful or distressing, often causing lasting negative effects to a person’s physical and mental health. Trauma can refer to something that happened once, like a car accident or assault, or something that happened over a long period of time, like abuse or neglect. The disorders associated with trauma are acute stress disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). After a traumatic event (either experienced firsthand or witnessed), a person may experience a number of symptoms.
These symptoms fall into five categories:
- Intrusion symptoms—involuntary and intrusive distressing memories of the trauma or recurrent distressing dreams
- Negative mood symptoms—a persistent inability to experience positive emotions, such as happiness or love
- Dissociative symptoms—time slowing, seeing oneself from an outsider’s perspective, or being in a daze
- Avoidance symptoms—avoidance of memories, thoughts, feelings, people, or places associated with the trauma
- Arousal symptoms—difficulty falling or staying asleep, irritable behavior, or problems with concentration
Symptoms lasting between three days and one month are diagnosed as an acute stress disorder, and if these symptoms persist for more than a month, the diagnosis becomes post-traumatic stress disorder.
Trauma can be extremely disruptive and damaging, but it doesn’t have to define the rest of a person’s life. Therapy can help people process what they’ve seen and experienced in a safe way, to put the experience behind them and limit its impact on their current life. Everyone deserves the opportunity to feel safe in their own mind- if symptoms of trauma are holding you back, contact us for a consultation today.