The term PTSD is often used to describe the trauma that
members of the military experience in battle. PTSD is post-traumatic stress
disorder, which is a mental health condition that can affect anyone who has
been through a trauma. A trauma definition includes a description of its types,
symptoms, and treatment options.
Trauma – Physical and Emotional
Trauma can be used in regard to physical health, meaning
the individual has experienced a physical injury. In regard to mental health,
the trauma definition refers to an emotional response to a deeply disturbing or
distressing event. An individual suffering the effects of trauma could have
experienced the sudden loss of a loved one, experienced or witnessed a violent
act, or been in an accident or a natural disaster. Many people who have been impacted
by the COVID-19 pandemic also feel the effects of that traumatic experience.
Trauma Types and Symptoms
Someone who has experienced trauma may respond with extreme
grief, may be in denial, or may be in a state of shock in the immediate and
short-term period after the event. Trauma can also result in longer-term
reactions, including flashbacks, impulsiveness, unsteady emotions, and strained
relationships. Physical symptoms of trauma can include nausea, lethargy, and
headaches. The long-term trauma symptoms can lead to a diagnosis of PTSD.
There are three main types of trauma: acute, chronic, and
Acute trauma typically results from a single event that is
extreme enough to threaten the individual’s physical or emotional security.
Acute trauma can result from an accident, a rape, an assault, or a natural disaster.
This event will create a lasting impression on the person’s mind to the extent
that it could affect the way they behave and think. Acute trauma symptoms generally
- Excessive anxiety or panic
- Sleep difficulties
- Lack of self-care or grooming
- Feeling disconnected
- Inability to focus on work or studies
- Unreasonable lack of trust
- Aggressive behavior
When an individual is exposed to multiple, long-term, or
prolonged traumatic events over an extended period of time, they can suffer
from chronic trauma. Events that can cause chronic trauma include a long-term
serious illness, domestic violence, exposure to extreme situations such as a
war, sexual abuse, and bullying. When multiple events of acute trauma occur or
if acute trauma remains untreated, it can progress to chronic trauma.
Chronic trauma symptoms can appear years after the event or series
of events and are deeply distressing to the individual. These symptoms can
include anxiety, extreme anger, unpredictable emotional outbursts, fatigue,
body aches and headaches, and flashbacks. The person experiencing chronic trauma
can have trust issues that can cause problems in their relationships and their
An individual who feels trapped because of exposure to
multiple traumatic events that fall within the context of an interpersonal relationship
can experience complex trauma. This type of trauma often results from neglect,
domestic violence, abuse, family disputes and repetitive and continuing stressful
situations such as civil unrest. Complex trauma can have a severe impact on the
individual’s mental health, also affecting overall health as well as
relationships and performance at school or work.
Understanding how to cope
with trauma can be critical to an individual’s mental and physical health. Seeking
professional treatment is the first step. Additional steps to better cope with the
effects of traumatic events can include:
- Understanding that symptoms experienced
immediately after the trauma may be normal, depending on the situation and the severity
of the symptoms.
- Keeping to a regular routine.
- Taking time to resolve conflicts as they occur
so they do not add to the stress level experienced from the trauma.
- Finding healthy, positive ways to practice
self-care, to relax, and to reduce stress and anxiety.
- Turning to a support network of trusted family
members and friends as someone to talk to about experiences and feelings
resulting from the trauma.
California Faith-Based Mental Health and Addiction
Celebrate Hope is here for you when you need help with mental
health issues such as trauma and PTSD, particularly when they co-occur with
addiction. Please contact Celebrate Hope to learn more about our faith-based
dual diagnosis treatment program. Our team helps men and women address the
vicious cycle of mental illness and addiction so they can begin life anew. We
rely on the teachings of Jesus Christ, along with evidence-based therapies to
get individuals on the path of recovery.