- Posted by Kristin Thompson
- On September 11, 2018
- 0 Comments
Top 10 Signs of Trauma in Adults
Recent reports believe that as much as 50% of the US population will experience at least one traumatic event in their lifetime. Of that 50%, approximately 9-10% will go on to develop PTSD. Those percentages go up if you are a person of color or of lower socioeconomic status.
Traumatic events can have far-reaching consequences for their survivors. Feelings of fear and loss of control can lead many to develop a variety of symptoms and often appear shaken and disoriented.
From “Big T” (combat/war zone, car or plane accident, natural disaster, terrorist attack, sexual assault, ) to “Little T” (infidelity, divorce, legal and financial troubles, interpersonal conflict, life transitions), it’s enough to cause severe distress and interfere with an individual’s daily functioning.
1. Re-Experiencing the Trauma
Re-experiencing, flashbacks, disassociation – having sudden and unwanted traumatic memories. Often times the re-experiencing comes on suddenly and for others there is a brief or extended period where time when reality is suspended.
Emotions are some of the most common ways in which trauma manifests. Some common emotional symptoms of include: denial, anger, shame, guilt, sadness, and emotional outbursts. Victims of trauma may redirect the overwhelming emotions they experience towards others, such as friends or family members.
3. Heightened Anxiety
Trauma and anxiety disorders often go hand-in-hand as feelings of fear and anxiety become too overwhelming. Symptoms typically include sweating, racing heartbeat, tense muscles, etc. These intense symptoms move beyond “normal” feelings of anxiety and become problematic when they begin to interfere with our lives.
The essential psychological effect of trauma is a shattering of innocence. Trauma creates a loss of faith that there is any safety, predictability, or meaning in the world, or any safe place we can retreat. Hyperarousal includes difficulty concentrating, being easily startled, irritable, angry, agitated, and hypervigilance (being hyper-alert to danger).
When we experience a traumatic event, it leaves us changed and deflated. Between flashbacks, experiencing heightened anxiety and hyperarousal, we’re exhausted! Friends and family may comment that we’re looking pale. We feel tired, experience poor concentration and are fatigued.
6. Lack of Sleep
Trauma survivors understand that they needed to rest, but find themselves unable to. For some, sleeping induces fear- fear of nightmares and flashbacks. It doesn’t offer relief, only more panic. It’s common to experience a racing heartbeat which in some cases can trigger panic attacks.
7. Unexplained Body Sensations
The psychological response to trauma is an intensely somatic experience. Survivors report a variety of physical symptoms, including gastrointestinal pain, chest pain, light-headedness, tingling sensations, shortness of breath, and unspecified muscle pain.
Avoidance is a common reaction to trauma. It’s natural. Trauma survivors report both emotional and behavioral avoidance. Emotional avoidance is when a person avoids thoughts and feeling about the traumatic event. Avoiding reminders of the trauma is described as behavioral avoidance.
9. Turning to Alcohol or Drugs
When the symptoms of trauma become too much to cope with through normal means, many survivors of trauma turn to drugs and alcohol. Survivors are more likely to develop addictions than other members of the general population.
10. Intrusive Thoughts
When we’re not feeling our best, we can all experience intrusive thoughts. The major difference among trauma survivors is the narrative of these thoughts. A majority of trauma survivors report intrusive thoughts revolving around shame and guilt.
Remember: Your mental health is nothing to be ashamed of and neither is talking about it!
If you believe you’ve experienced a traumatic event and need help sorting things out, I encourage you to find a trauma specialist that will help you and your specific needs. You can find one here.