Many individuals have a preconceived notion that trauma is something that only occurs to those who have served in the military or who have gone through extreme medical emergencies. While each of those experiences can cause trauma to occur, so can a number of other events.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), trauma is defined as the emotional response to a terrible event. In addition to combat and medical emergencies, other things can lead to the development of trauma including acts of terrorism, verbal or online harassment, car accidents, the death or loss of a loved one, physical or emotional abuse, and serious illnesses. Being in a state of shock or denial are common in the aftermath of one of these occurrences, however, when an individual continues to go through deeply unpleasant symptoms such as flashbacks, recurrent memories, physical pain, and irrational fears, then he or she might be facing trauma.
Trauma has been linked to a number of self-defeating behaviors such as substance abuse, self-harm, eating disorders, and suicide. Fortunately, with the help of professional treatment, those who struggle with trauma can obtain skills that will allow them to work through their symptoms and emotions in a healthier manner, as well as defat the psychological distress that can leave serious negative effects if untreated.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that between three and four percent of adults in the country will be afflicted with trauma within any given 12-month period of time, with nearly 35% of these cases considered severe. Sadly, about 50% of these individuals will fail to obtain the help they need. According to the National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention, one in four children in the country will go through and/or witness a traumatic event before age four, and more than 60% will be exposed to crime or violence by age 17. Nearly 10% of women and 4% of men in the United States will suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at some point in their lives, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Signs and Symptoms of Trauma
Trauma does not cause the same symptoms to occur in all cases. Some people might exhibit different symptoms based on a number of factors, however some of the most common behavioral, physical, cognitive, and psychosocial symptoms are listed below:
- Unexplained outbursts of anger or aggressiveness
- Acting in a dangerous or reckless manner
- Abusing alcohol or another drug
- Having irrational responses to stimuli that remind one of the traumatic event
- Decline in performance at work or in school
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Avoiding activities or places that remind one of the traumatic event
- Headaches and abdominal pain
- Sleep problems, including disturbingly vivid nightmares
- Experiencing flashbacks, or recurrent memories of the traumatic incident
- Suicidal ideation
- Inability to focus or concentrate
- Emotional detachment
- Agitation and irritability
- Dramatic mood swings
Effects of Trauma
When trauma goes untreated, it can cause severely disruptive effects in all areas of an individual’s life. The effects that trauma can produce can include:
- Suicidal ideation
- Injuries related to substance abuse or reckless behavior
- Academic failure
- Job loss and chronic unemployment
- Family discord
- Ruined interpersonal relationships
- Social withdrawal and self-isolation
- Sexual dysfunction
- Substance abuse
- High blood pressure
- Disrupted sleep patterns
- Digestive problems
Why Seek Treatment for Trauma
Trauma that is not addressed can cause permanent physical and psychological damage. Adolescents and adults who do not obtain the professional care required to cope with their symptoms of trauma might turn to the abuse of substances to curb their emotional pain, which can make this situation much more complex and even more dangerous. Those whose trauma has caused them to feel out of control in their lives might start developing an eating disorder, self-harm behaviors, or reckless behavior. Trauma that remains untreated can also begin manifesting itself through depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which can impact one’s ability to attend work, school, or live up to his or her daily responsibilities. The feeling of helplessness, hopelessness, and despair that can surround trauma can cause an individual to isolate him or herself from others, which, when combined with substance abuse or additional mental health conditions, can cause job loss, financial distress, and homelessness.
When an individual is grappling with trauma and has the ability to work with professionals, these symptoms and effects can be decreased, allowing a healthier and more hopeful future to peak through. Comprehensive residential treatment is an excellent means of providing individuals who struggle with trauma with the medical, psychological, and therapeutic support needed to reclaim their lives once and for all.
To obtain more information about trauma treatment, especially at it pertains to eating disorders, please reach out to us today. We look forward to answering your many questions, and are here to help you decide if Carolina House is the best fit for your mental health needs.