According to The National Council, 70% of adults in the U.S. have experienced some profoundly traumatic event at least once in their lives. That means most of us will experience a deeply distressing or disturbing event or series of events classified as acute, chronic, or complex trauma.
As alarming as that statistic is on its face, trauma is simply a part of life for most Americans. Even though the effects of trauma are different in each specific circumstance, the impacts of trauma on victims’ lives are often the same. Here are some commonalities among those who have dealt with trauma. These may ring true for those who have experienced trauma and their loved ones.
1. Changes to your perspective on life
Even though types of trauma vary greatly, there is often a current of similarity that runs through the way it manifests itself. Trauma will often critically shift how one sees their life. Self-worth, relationships with others, and what people envision for their future are often all affected by the traumatic events they’ve endured.
2. Resistance to change
Most people who have gone through trauma are resistant to change, even if it is positive. Change often represents a perceived threat to safety and control over our lives, and it’s typical to experience a push-back to things that could open us up to vulnerability.
This resistance can occur with changes in physical locations and residency, interacting with new people, and even a promotion at work that brings new responsibilities can be an unwelcome change to a victim of trauma. Consistency in where we go, what we do, and who we see brings comfort, and change can also reignite your traumatic response and trigger feelings of anxiety, stress, fear, and even anger.
3. Changes in memory or concentration
It may feel unnerving, but it’s typical to experience gaps in memory, including events that friends and family may remember, yet the trauma sufferer has no recollection of. This is another natural response to trauma and our brain’s attempt at self-preservation. This symptom can also damage your ability to concentrate as you once did. A generalized lack of focus is often an additional side effect that those who experience trauma report.
Processing and Coping with Trauma
Trauma survivors experience and cope with trauma in a variety of ways. The mental health effects can manifest immediately, or days, weeks, and even years after the occurrence of trauma. Human beings are unique and complex creatures, and when our brains are processing trauma, our survival and coping mechanisms can upend our daily lives.
Often, symptoms get better over time as we naturally connect with others close to us, and we build meaning out of our lives as we get some distance from the trauma. It is normal to experience sadness, sleep issues, avoidance, anger/rage, intrusive thoughts, other unpredictable emotions, and even physical symptoms related to the trauma.
Additional Support for Victims of Trauma
If these symptoms persist or continue to interfere with your ability to live your daily life, you may be experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This type of condition is most common in complex trauma that occurs over time and is deeply threatening to and invasive of personal safety. If you or a loved one is experiencing extreme stress, anxiety, or depression related to one or more traumatic events, it may be time to seek professional care through therapy, medications, and/or other available treatments.
The care team at Hudson Psychiatric Associates is here to help address your mental health concerns and bring you resources to get back on the path to wellness. Reach out today to request an appointment, or get more information about our support services.