Revisiting important themes: Understanding trauma

In general, trauma can be defined as a psychological, emotional response to an event or an experience that is deeply distressing or disturbing. … Everyone processes a traumatic event differently because we all face them through the lens of prior experiences in our lives.

There are three main types of trauma are acute, chronic, or complex.

Acute trauma results from a single incident.

Chronic trauma is repeated and prolonged such as domestic violence or abuse.

Complex trauma is exposure to varied and multiple traumatic events, often of an invasive, interpersonal nature.

Symptoms of psychological trauma:

Shock, denial, or disbelief.

Confusion, difficulty concentrating.

Anger, irritability, mood swings.

Anxiety and fear.

Guilt, shame, self-blame.

Withdrawing from others.

Feeling sad or hopeless.

Feeling disconnected or numb.

Helping with trauma:

Find out as much as you can about distress, so you can understand something about what to expect.

Allow the person to talk about what happened, even if they become upset.

Don’t insist they need professional help – not everyone who experiences a traumatic event needs therapy.

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