Should You Be Worried About Your Mental Health If You Have Experienced Trauma?
Yes. You should be worried about your mental health if you have experienced trauma. Trauma is a horrifying or tragic event that affects your mental state; it even shapes your mindset and how you see certain things.
Traumas are past events that affect our future behavior. Do you know that everyone has been affected in one way or another by trauma? Also, in most cases, our behavior and feelings are products of the traumatic experiences we have had.
Trauma is a personal experience. Two people can experience the same thing but react differently. For example, a group of teenage girls was traveling by train to meet with their family at the train bus stop. It was the end of the school session.
During the trip, they got robbed, and all the girls were raped. The scene was very traumatic. Girls who were excited with joy to see family and spend time with them arrived crying, with gloomy faces, and somehow scared.
But one girl sat on the side of the train and refused to come out. She stared into thin air and refused to stand up from her seat. She was bewildered, and she could not make much of her surroundings. People took her out of her seat and straight to the hospital.
She was numbed and didn’t feel anything, even when the doctor examined her. In the end, she committed suicide within three weeks. Some of the girls who were raped got married, had children, and had a coping mechanism to help them throughout their lives.
Others did not get married since the relationship did not work for them. This is a true-life experience. The young girl who committed suicide could not cope with what had happened. Chances are, her parents didn’t take her to therapy. She was shutting down, and no one could help her.
People develop different ways to cope with traumatic events. The coping mechanism can be healthy or unhealthy. A healthy coping mechanism could be identifying your triggers, and an unhealthy coping mechanism could be telling yourself no one cares for you, thereby hurting people who do care about you.
Trauma starts showing its effects in adulthood in most cases. This is because when a traumatic event happens in childhood, and there is no form of healing or healthy coping mechanism, the effect is shown in adulthood.
Trauma has adverse effects on adults, affecting their biological, physical, and mental abilities. During adulthood, it is the trigger from childhood trauma that causes us to behave in a certain way and could lead to mental health disorders after a long period.
A person who has been through a traumatic incident will exhibit a variety of emotions. Such emotions range from shock to overwhelm to numbness to brain fog to helplessness, and the list could go on and on. You will have to be in total control of your emotions to gain yourself back when faced with a traumatic experience.
Forms of Trauma
Various forms of trauma can happen to anyone. It is pertinent to note that people respond to tragic events differently, hence the different types of traumas.
These three types of traumas include:
Acute trauma: This trauma happens when there is only a single event. Having to experience an accident once in your life falls under acute trauma.
Chronic trauma: this is a reoccurring tragic event. An example of chronic trauma is when a girl experiences sexual abuse from a young age into adulthood.
Complex trauma: this is an exposure to a combined tragic event that keeps reoccurring. For instance, imagine a boy who grows up in a family where he was molested, beaten, not properly taken care of, and experienced parent fighting. That is an example of complex trauma.
These forms of trauma are caused by:
Domestic abuse in form of maltreatment or conflict between parents
Sexual abuse like rape
Accident of any kind
Natural tragedies like an earthquake
Here is a better way to look at trauma formation using three glasses of water. The first glass cup is empty, the second glass cup is half full, and the third glass cup is almost full.
What this symbolizes is that the empty glass signifies no trauma. This means that the individual has experienced trauma, maybe once in their lifetime, but they have not developed trauma responses.
The second glass that is half full is someone who has had a reoccurring tragic event that leads to the development of unpleasant trauma responses, but to some extent, the individual has a certain amount of control.
The last glass that is filled signifies that there is less room for coping with the traumatic experience, and it will be very difficult for such individuals to be helped (it can be possible to manage, but it will take a lot of time).
Symptoms of Trauma
Imagine you are being robbed and held at gunpoint. And one of the robbers had just shot your best friend. And they left you. The police arrive, and you cannot seem to say anything. Your mouth refuses to open, and your brain refuses to cooperate and talk. That is an example of an immediate trauma response and a symptom of trauma:
Here are other common symptoms of trauma both childhood and adulthood trauma
State of confusion
Fear and panic
Dissociation: disconnecting from self and environment
Lack of trust in anyone
Feelings of not being good enough
Sexual fantasies (most sexual fantasies stem from rape and child abuse)
State of denial
The Treatment Plan For Trauma
Various treatment plans can be used to help manage trauma. These treatment plans work for different types of traumas and their severity. Treatment plans are done by mental health professionals such as psychiatrists, psychologists, or counselors.
Here are the different types of treatment plans:
CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy): this type of therapy helps individuals identify their trauma-related thought patterns concerning the behaviors they exhibit. Through this therapy, the patient gets to improve how they think and control how they react to reoccurring trauma responses.
The EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing): the therapy aims to counter negative thoughts with positive ones while concentrating on a movement shown by your therapist. This therapy can work for people who have disconnected from their body and the environment because of a traumatic experience.
Medication: Medications such as anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs can help regulate your emotions. Such drugs should not be purchased over the counter but must be prescribed by a psychiatrist or psychologist after diagnosis.
Please note that when you experience trauma for the first time, there is a chance you will not have adverse traumatic responses. This means that in most cases, traumatic responses can be seen in behavior or thought patterns after reoccurring traumatic events.