Recognizing trauma symptoms has become easier for common people. Articles, books, and other sources about psychology make it easier to identify the signs on other people.
The question is: can you recognize the signs if they happen to you?
Feeling afraid and shocked after a traumatic situation is natural. Depending on the severity, people may recover in several days or weeks. However, psychological trauma may last longer. If you don’t quickly recognize and resolve them, the symptoms will cause long-lasting damages.
Common Symptoms of Psychological Trauma
The American Psychological Association describes trauma as an emotional response (or responses) that follows a traumatic, frightening, threatening, or shocking situation. Psychological traumas often last long, disturbing people’s ability to live a normal life.
After experiencing bad situations, you know you are traumatized when these symptoms occur:
A traumatic situation shatters one’s perception of safety. Your first reaction could be disbelief or even denial as if the situation shouldn’t have happened.
A sudden calamity or disaster can wreck your ability to think rationally because everything happens so fast. You may experience confusion, distracted mind, and difficulties in focusing or concentrating.
Anger, along with irritability and mood swings, are very common reactions toward negative situations. This anger can last long and be triggered by the smallest things.
Guilt, shame, and self-blame often happen to survivors of a disaster, war, or crime that end in people’s death.
Feeling hopeless, sad, and aimless are common reactions toward the aftermath of a traumatic situation. They can become part of your personality if you experience chronic stress or long-term abuse.
A traumatic experience can result in numbness or disconnected feeling. These are the results of your brain’s effort to shield you from the extreme effects of trauma.
There are also physical symptoms, such as shortness of breath, insomnia, muscle tension, increasing heartbeats, fatigue, and catatonic.
When to Ask for Help?
There are no rules about what trauma symptoms someone can experience. There is no “right” or “wrong” reaction because everyone faces traumatic experiences differently.
Some trauma symptoms can heal with time. However, you need to know when to ask for help. After experiencing a traumatic experience, ask these questions to yourself:
- Does my professional and social life get affected by this situation?
- Does my relationship get worse? Am I unable to keep a meaningful relationship for long?
- Do I have an unhealthy mindset toward problems?
- Do I try to cope by abusing cigarettes, drugs, or alcohol?
- Do I experience an inability to sleep, take good rest, or self-care?
- Does my health condition deteriorate rapidly?
If you answer “yes” in all or several of these questions, it means your trauma has affected you in a serious way. Consider looking for help and starting a journey to heal your mental state.
How to Recover from Trauma Symptoms
Once you recognize the trauma, it is important to start the journey toward recovery.
The first thing you must do is connecting to a professional and trusted person. Asking for help is the key to recover from trauma because you are in a fragile state. A therapist guides you through the steps of recovery, while a trusted person helps you going through the process.
During the healing process, you should keep a journal. Start writing about all your worries, sadness, and other negative feelings. Write down your progress during the treatment process. This helps you see your problem in a clearer way.
Tips to Further Recover from Trauma
Visiting a therapist and connecting to reliable people are just the first steps toward recovery. If you want to be 100 percent healed, you must control the trauma symptoms. The change should root from inside your mind, not just from other people’s words.
The best thing you can do are controlling the symptoms when they come. Here is how you can do it:
· Practice self-care
When you are stressed, you tend to neglect self-care. Start doing it again regularly. Take time to do something you like every day, such as reading, painting, watching movies, or gardening. Have a nice spa session, even if it is just at home.
· Start volunteering
Volunteering or doing other activities causes have a great effect on the traumatized mind. They provide a positive feeling by shifting your point of view and providing a dopamine effect from helping others.
· Look for a support group
Ask your therapist about the support group, especially if your trauma came from a specific occurrence. Talking with others who experienced the same thing will make you feel less alone.
· Do physical activities
Researchers have proven the positive effects of exercises for depression and anxiety. Start doing at least 15 minutes of exercise every day. It can be a simple walking, jogging, swimming, or dancing.
Finally, try practicing mindfulness in your everyday life. Focus your mind on your breath and the movements of your body. Mindfulness is important to give you a sense of grounding. It keeps your mind from getting anxious.
Trauma symptoms are unpleasant and affecting your daily life. Recognizing them is important to start the recovery process and get your life back on track.