Understanding the symptoms of trauma and PTSD

Trauma can be anything that happens to us that is overwhelming and difficult for us to cope with. This could include bullying, childhood neglect, childbirth, illness, death, redundancy as well as things traditionally seen as trauma such as accidents, sexual assaults or violent attacks. Many people will experience symptoms of trauma in the months or even years after these experiences.

When the symptoms of trauma are intense, people may be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress disorder (PTSD). This is a diagnosis used when people have been exposed to a significant trauma involving death, actual or threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury, or actual or threated sexual violence. Many people who have experienced trauma may develop trauma symptoms. These symptoms could emerge at any point after the trauma, even years later.

Symptoms of trauma can include:

Intrusive thoughts

You might find that thoughts around the incident(s) pop into your mind when you don't expect it to be there.

Maybe you find yourself struggling to sleep and having nightmares or horrible dreams about the event that you experienced.

You might experience flashbacks where you almost re experience what happened to you

Avoiding things you previously enjoyed

You might find that you avoid the areas where the incident happened, you won’t go to that town, past that road, into that pub etc.

People often withdraw from family and friends it might be that they were connected to the trauma or it might just be that it’s difficult to be around people.

What we often do to ourselves is push down any thoughts and feelings about the incident. We often think that pushing it down will make it go away but it doesn’t really work.


Changes in mood

Many people notice an increase in negative thoughts about themselves after an incident. People often blame themselves and think ‘It was my fault” or believe ‘bad things will happen to me” or “I am unsafe in the world”.

These thoughts are often attached to overwhelming emotions: horror, fear, guilt, shame. Anger. The emotions are unpleasant and can be really difficult to deal with. 

Experiencing trauma can leave you feeling detached from the people around you, somehow you feel different, detached, distant.

Being on high alert

It’s as if your body is in fight or flight mode all the time. In one way this is biology doing it’s job and keeping you safe but on another this is exhausting, it wears you down and it adds to your other symptoms. 

Because you are in fight or flight mode, you might often feel an increased sense of being unsafe or in danger. This can often leave you on high alert and hypervigilant. You are easily startled, you may feel fear, afraid, always watching the environment for signs of danger that you are at risk. Maybe you are watchful. On high alert thinking that something bad will happen. You might be hyper sensitive. Sensitive to loud noises, a sense that someone is unhappy with you or any sense of danger.

Sounds exhausting doesn’t it? So many of the clients I see are feeling exhausted, drained and tired just by trying to live their life’s.

But it doesn’t have to be this way, change is possible.

If this sounds familiar, know that there is help for you.
Book a free 15 minute consultation now.