Trauma and Its Aftermath

By: Lisa Card Strong, Ph.D. | April 8, 2022

It’s easy to wish that unwanted, intrusive, and repetitive thoughts about a traumatic event could just disappear and go “poof.” Unfortunately, for those who have experienced trauma, the aftermath is simply not that simple. This article explains what trauma is, how it affects your mental health, and how you can help yourself.

Understanding Trauma

When it comes to trauma, no two situations are ever the same. Trauma is commonly explained as an experience where either your physical integrity or someone else’s well-being is threatened. This might include physical and sexual assault, emotional abuse, abuse occurring in childhood, military combat, witnessing an event where someone else is threatened, harmed, or experiencing a significant life-threatening event yourself. When trauma occurs, a trauma reaction sets in and intensifies over the course of months or even years. Although it is possible for unwanted thoughts to slowly slide away following trauma, the effects of trauma more commonly linger.

The Effects of Trauma

Trauma affects everyone differently and to different degrees of severity. Typical reactions include experiencing continued unwanted thoughts about what happened, nightmares, and heightened arousal or physical anxiety. Oftentimes, people will start avoiding thoughts about what happened, as well as avoid situations that remind them of what happened. This can lead to increased alcohol or drug use. The experience of trauma negatively impacts the way we view ourselves, our relationships, and the world around us. It may become more difficult to feel happy, satisfied and like yourself. Other accompanying issues can include difficulty sleeping, changes in appetite, strained relationships, difficulty concentrating and sustaining focus, irritability, and hypervigilance. These symptoms when clustered together comprise of the diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Healing after Trauma

If you are troubled by an upsetting or traumatic experience for more than a couple of months after it has occurred, it is worth discussing your symptoms with a professional San Diego Psychologist. You and your therapist will work together to better understand your trauma, its aftermath, and ways to move forward. Specialized treatments for trauma are available to help you process and make sense out of what has happened.

Effective treatments for trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder include Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) and Prolonged Exposure (PE) Therapy. Research shows that it is possible to increase the quality of your life and move forward with a much calmer perspective after receiving care.

Traumatic stress reactions are normal reactions to a set of abnormal circumstances. If you are in distress, it is important to know that there is nothing “wrong” with you, and no shame in seeking the support that you need.

Get Help Now

The impact of trauma is not always outright, it can also be subtle. In fact, some people don’t recognize that their symptoms are related to trauma until they seek therapy. If you are wondering if your life has been impacted by trauma, or if you are even reluctant to consider thinking or talking about what happened, I encourage you to consider therapy as a safe place for you to start to explore what happened in a nonjudgmental and supportive environment. Contact Us now to learn more about how therapy can help.



Photo by Tiago Bandeira on Unsplash

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