Psychological trauma is an expression we often use colloquially, as a means of describing bad memories and exaggerating our negative feelings. But trauma can be real for many people and diagnosable by a specialist who can also propose a plan of treatment.
Often, people live with psychological trauma and are not even aware they are, so we will further define trauma, go through some of its common forms, and talk about possible treatment for it.
Types of Psychological Trauma
Psychological and emotional trauma can be triggered by various events, even non-life-threatening. Events that leave you with feelings of helplessness, anxiety, numbness, fright, or prevent you from feeling safe or trusting other people vary a lot and are subjective to your own ability to cope with them.
Emotional trauma can be caused by any strongly negative experience, from going through surgery to being neglected by your parents, leaving a relationship, or moving to a new place.
Here are the main types of psychological trauma:
- Acute trauma: it is triggered by a single traumatic event.
- Chronic trauma: common in those exposed repeatedly to trauma, such as domestic violence or child abuse/neglect victims.
- Complex trauma: experienced by people exposed to multiple types of traumatic events.
- Secondary trauma: experiencing trauma after being in close contact with someone who went through psychological trauma.
The manifestations of psychological trauma can be extremely varied, depending on what triggered it, on the person’s own ability to cope with it, and the environment they live in while dealing with the trauma.
Psychological trauma is not defined by the triggering event itself, as each person will react differently to the same objective event. Therefore, trauma is defined by one’s response, and it mostly manifests as feeling fear, feeling endangered, and hopeless.
Signs of Psychological Trauma
Here are some of the most common signs you are dealing with psychological trauma. These symptoms can manifest partially, they can come and go as you are triggered by certain stimuli, or can affect your normal life constantly and in the long-term.
Psychological symptoms of trauma include:
- Flashbacks and painful memories
- Sleep disorders
Often, psychological trauma manifests as a higher predisposition to mental conditions like depression or anxiety. When trauma causes these conditions, it has to be discussed along the treatment period, as it is the underlying cause of these disorders.
Common co-existing mental conditions:
- Substance abuse
Treatment for Psychological Trauma
The treatment plan for a person experiencing psychological trauma will be decided by an expert, preferably a mental health professional with expertise and experience on the topic of trauma.
Therapy is one of the main treatments available for victims of psychological trauma, and there are several types of therapy proven to work for these patients. CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) helps people cope with their trauma by changing their thought patterns. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) guides the patient while they are reliving their trauma, helping them change their reaction to the event.
Medication itself is not a direct treatment for psychological trauma, but it alleviates its symptoms and can improve the coexisting conditions. Antidepressants, anti-anxiety medicine, sleeping aids, and other types of medication might be prescribed to someone suffering from emotional trauma.
When and Where to Seek Help
People who are experiencing emotional or psychological trauma should seek help if their symptoms are persistent, or if trauma interferes with their daily life, relationships, or well-being.
Therapy can be done remotely, especially during the pandemic, and it can have positive results as long as you are working with a licensed, experienced professional. Seeing a therapist in person is ideal, as you can establish trust more easily, and communicate more effectively.
Your general practitioner can be the first step in seeking help, as they can refer you to a specialist in your area. You can also contact a mental health clinic directly, and go to a preliminary consultation during which a diagnosis is proposed, and the treatment plan can be outlined.
Book a Free Consultation at Dr. Quintal & Associates Counseling Center
Our specialists are trained to work with trauma victims and to choose the most effective treatment for their unique cases. We offer remote therapy, as well as face-to-face treatment in our Lakewood Ranch, FL center.
Book a free therapy consultation here and start your healing process by identifying the psychological trauma you are suffering from, and what kind of treatment would be best for you. Healing from psychological trauma will change your outcome for the better and help you enjoy your life to its full potential.