Trauma is a silent creeper. Its triggers can creep up when you least expect it and can sabotage you into a myriad of complex emotions. Just when you think you are living your best life, emotional stress from a complicated past can be creating havoc in your life. You might not have expected it but trauma can present in the form of low self-esteem or feeling like a victim. It can show up as having uncontrollable emotionally intense reactions, nightmares, flashbacks or anxiety. It can even show up as depressive symptoms. Some people might be wrongfully diagnosed with anxiety or depression and truly suffer from past trauma.
Trauma is a dominant emotional response to a stressful event, such as war, accident, loss of a loved one or abuse. Trauma for children can involve physical and sexual abuse or move away from close friends. Miscarriage, fertility issues related to losing and stillbirths are traumatic also.
If you feel helpless during a situation, you could be feeling a trauma. Sometimes reading the warning signs of being involved in trauma is difficult. One might be feeling denial, shock or despair, not knowing how to figure out the emotional response in the given moment.
Traumatic experiences are typically unexpected. It could happen repeatedly, overtime or it can be quick and happen in an instant. Traumas can pile on, leading to complex trauma.
Everyone’s experience of trauma is unique. This is similar to dealing with grief or loss. It is a personalized experience. Some people develop many symptoms and triggers and others develop few.
Some people avoid reminders of the previous trauma altogether. Still, others have flashbacks and nightmares and cannot forget the trauma. Some have exaggerated startled responses to noise, large crowds or new social situations. Still, others have sleep problems.
People who experienced trauma might be prone to anger or irritability. Some people even self-blame having gone through the event and this might lead to depression.
Trauma can follow you around like a creepy stalker, teasing you or taunting you with subtle cues. When you go through a trauma, you might not even recognize it. Some are easier to recognize than others such as war events, physical or sexual assaults or accidents. However, the powerful disguise of denial and shock can impact your way of dealing with the trauma.
You might not even claim or own the fact you just went through something traumatic. In fact, according to Rainn.org who gives us up-to-date criminal justice statistics, only 230 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to the police. That goes to show that about 3:4 cases go unreported.
What this says to me, is that if they are going unreported, the recognition of having gone through the trauma might also be avoided altogether. In fact, I question if these persons who have been assaulted are getting counseling services. Perhaps they are not telling any friends or family. Or worse, perhaps he or she is repressing the idea that the sexual assault happened at all.
According to the American Society for the Positive Care of Children, 7.4 million reports on child abuse occur in the United States. Out of that number, 18.2% are physically abused and 8.5% are sexually abused.
According to MaketheConnection.net, 12% of Gulf War Veterans experience PTSD each year. That number increases to 15% for those Vietnam Veterans.
Miscarriages are far more common than we think. 1:4 pregnancies result in miscarriage. Less than 1% of women have 3 or more miscarriages but as it occurs, these can be regarded as repetitive traumas.
According to PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) United, 70% of adults in the United States have experienced some type of traumatic event at least once in their lives. This is about 223.4 million people. Almost 1:9 women develop PTSD which tells us that women are twice as likely as men to develop PTSD.
What can you do with this pesky creeper called trauma?
- Get a Counselor and Learn about Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
Because dealing with trauma is a personal, yet confusing journey, a solid recommendation is to get help from an experienced counselor. In doing so, you are able to learn about trauma, recognize how it is impacting you, understand your triggers and deal with emotional reactivity.
When working with a counselor you can take steps to understand triggering events or situations. You can learn how to battle automatic thoughts and work to reframe the way you look at and feel about a situation. This can be done through cognitive behavioral therapy.
- Medication Management as an Option
Medication can be used to help symptoms of depression, anxiety, and insomnia or sleep issues as related to the trauma. Sometimes dissociations occur if you have gone through severe or extreme trauma. Medications prove helpful to these types of symptoms and can aid in treatment with your counselor. However, if you are taking prescribed benzodiazepines, research explains to ease off of them in order to process through the trauma events with your counselor.
- Utilize Other Therapy Approaches
There are other therapies that can be helpful also. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is a type of treatment that gives you acronym-based skill sets that focuses on acceptance-oriented interventions.
Another option is called Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing therapy or EMDR. This type of therapy works with neural pathways in the brain and processing the traumatic information in a non-invasive way.
A third option is a narrative therapy. This type of option allows a client to process the traumatic information and make sense of the jumbled mess going on in the brain. Through story-telling, writing or art, this kind of therapy can help ease the overwhelming experience of having gone through a trauma.
- Support Groups
When having gone through war, a terrible accident, the loss of a loved one, miscarriage, physical or sexual assault, at times you might need to hear you are not alone. You could benefit from learning about others’ experiences and having people to lean on. Having gone through a trauma can feel like a debilitating, lonely experience. Support groups can be an alternative platform where you can heal.
Instead of letting the silent creeper, called trauma sabotage you, take control where you can. You can learn about trauma, understand how to work with your triggers and emotional responses. By taking the steps above, coupled with time, you can overcome trauma.