Avatar photo

Compiled by Asanda Mbayimbayi

Are you suffering from trauma? Here are 8 trauma signs

Approximately 30% of South Africans are expected to encounter a mental health condition associated with trauma during their lifetime.

Traumatic events have the potential to deeply impact a person’s well-being, often resulting in feelings of fear, helplessness and profound emotional pain.

According to Affinity Health, a reputable healthcare provider, trauma can have a profound impact on individuals’ lives, but it is crucial to remember that healing is possible.

“Seeking support and engaging in appropriate treatment can help individuals navigate the effects of trauma and move towards a path of recovery and resilience,” said Murray Hewlett, the CEO of Affinity Health.

ALSO READ: Understanding Schizophrenia and It’s impact.

Picture: iStock
Picture: iStock

What is trauma?

Trauma is the psychological and emotional reaction triggered by an overwhelming event or series of events that surpasses an individual’s capacity to cope.

It can stem from a range of factors, such as encountering or observing violence, abuse, accidents, natural disasters, or situations that pose a threat to life.

Trauma triggers

Trauma triggers are things that remind people of their past traumatic experiences and make them feel strong emotions or physical reactions.

These triggers can be different for each person and may include specific sounds, smells, images, or even certain places.

It is important to identify and understand these triggers in order to better cope with and manage the symptoms of trauma.

How trauma affects the body, physically and emotionally

The impact of trauma on individuals can result in notable physical and emotional consequences.

  • Physically, trauma can lead to various symptoms such as sleep disturbances, fatigue, muscle tension, headaches, digestive issues, and a weakened immune system.
  • Emotionally, trauma can cause feelings of fear, anxiety, anger, guilt, shame, and a sense of disconnection from others. Individuals may also experience flashbacks, nightmares, hypervigilance, and a heightened startle response.
Picture: iStock
Picture: iStock

According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag), approximately 30% of South Africans are expected to encounter a mental health condition associated with trauma during their lifetime.

On a global scale, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 70% of people worldwide have experienced trauma at some stage in their lives.

These figures underscore the importance of addressing trauma and offering assistance to those affected by it.

Signs and symptoms of trauma

The indicators and manifestations of trauma can differ based on the person and the specific traumatic event they have encountered. Typical signs and symptoms may include:

  • Intrusive thoughts or memories of the traumatic event
  • Nightmares and sleep disturbances
  • Avoidance of people, places, or situations associated with the trauma
  • Emotional numbness or difficulty experiencing positive emotions
  • Hyperarousal, including irritability, difficulty concentrating, and a heightened startle response
  • Flashbacks or dissociative episodes
  • Feelings of guilt, shame, or self-blame
  • Social withdrawal and isolation

ALSO READ: Everything you need to know about chest pains and how to treat them

Picture: iStock
Picture: iStock

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is a complex mental health condition that can develop following exposure to or witnessing of a traumatic event. It has the potential to impact individuals of all ages, genders, and backgrounds.

Individuals with PTSD commonly experience intrusive thoughts, nightmares, and flashbacks related to the traumatic incident, causing significant emotional distress and disruption in their daily lives.

Moreover, individuals with PTSD may display hyperarousal symptoms such as heightened vigilance, irritability, and difficulties in concentrating.

They may also actively avoid situations or stimuli that remind them of the trauma, resulting in withdrawal from social interactions and feelings of isolation.

Effective treatment for PTSD typically involves a combination of therapy, medication, and support from loved ones.

With appropriate care and support, individuals with PTSD can gradually regain a sense of safety, acquire coping strategies, and regain control over their lives.

“It is important to note that not all individuals who experience trauma will develop PTSD, but the presence of these symptoms may indicate the need for professional support,” said Hewlett.

Picture: iStock
Picture: iStock

Treatment options

There are various effective treatment options accessible for individuals affected by trauma. These options may involve:

  • Therapy: Psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR), or trauma-focused therapy, can help individuals process their trauma, develop coping skills, and reduce distressing symptoms.
  • Medication: In some cases, medication may be prescribed to manage symptoms of trauma, such as depression, anxiety, or sleep disturbances. It is important to consult a healthcare professional for appropriate evaluation and prescription.
  • Support groups: Joining support groups or participating in group therapy sessions can provide individuals with a sense of belonging, validation, and support from others who have experienced similar traumas.
  • Self-care: Engaging in self-care activities, such as exercise, mindfulness practices, journaling, and creative outlets, can help individuals manage stress, promote emotional well-being, and foster resilience.
  • Social support: Building a strong support network of trusted friends, family members, or mentors can provide emotional support and a sense of safety.
  • Stress management techniques: Learning and practicing stress management techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, and relaxation techniques, can help individuals reduce anxiety and promote overall well-being.

NOW READ: Signs of PTSD you need to know

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits