Trauma has many different meanings depending on the individual using the term and the situation. In the medical field, trauma means an injury that causes damage to the body. In the mental health field, trauma is an event that creates emotional and mental health pain and distress. In some cases, emotional or mental trauma accompanies physical trauma, as can happen if someone is in an accident or a victim of domestic violence or a crime.
Trauma can be something that happens to an individual directly, or it can even occur if something horrific is witnessed. For example, a person could witness a car accident that resulted in injury or death and be very deeply traumatised by the experience.
Trauma can also occur over a long period of time. Harassment, discrimination, bullying and belittling can also create emotional trauma. People that live in any environment or in any socio-economic level can experience trauma. To make things more complicated, something that is traumatic to one person may not be for another.
For those that experience physical trauma, there are wounds and the physical signs of injury are easy to spot and treat. For those that experience emotional trauma, there are no visible wounds. Often an event triggers past unresolved traumatic events, which can made it even more challenging to understand what is happening.
Signs of Trauma
The signs or symptoms of trauma may not occur immediately after the traumatic event. In some cases, the original trauma may have happened years or even decades ago; then a similar or related incident happens that triggers the flood of emotions and responses in the body and the mind.
Common signs or symptoms that are associated with trauma include:
- Feelings of alienation – trauma can result in feelings of being different, self-blame, the need to be alone, feelings of rejection or the inability to feel connected with others.
- Memory and concentration issues – it is often very challenging to maintain focus, to think clearly or to recall specific issues in life when there is trauma. This can become more pronounced over time.
- Difficulty with emotions – people that are experiencing trauma often feel empty of emotions, particularly the "good" emotions. They may not feel a sense of enjoyment in life and they may feel guilty or ashamed if they do feel happy. In some cases, people with trauma may become irritated, agitated and angry at others.
- Physical problems – physical problems with trauma can include trouble with sleeping, digestive problems, body aches and pains, intimacy issues and possibly a feeling of constant restlessness and physical discomfort.
Trauma is not a disease, but rather a lack of healing from an emotional or mental injury. Through counselling and therapy, those that experience trauma, even very deep seated and chronic types of traumatic events, can learn to let go of the trauma and find new, healthy coping mechanisms.
Philippe Jacquet has extensive experience in working with individuals with trauma and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Through bespoke treatment plans that are designed to support the individual client, it is possible to alleviate the symptoms of trauma that are creating problems in your life.