A trauma is a strong, persistent, negative emotional response to a past event, or reminders of it.
Trauma usually has three common elements: it was unexpected, the person was not adequately prepared to deal with and it was completely out of the person’s control.
Some causes of trauma are:
- Armed robberies
- Car accidents
- Domestic abuse
- Life threatening illness
- Sexual abuse
A traumatic event can be any experience that leaves an individual feeling overwhelmed and alone. It does not necessarily have to involve physical harm or a life-threatening situation.
After experiencing a trauma, an individual can experience many different symptoms.
The emotional symptoms are often a feeling of shock, denial, or disbelief. It can also lead to intense feelings of guilt or anger. A traumatic event can also cause depression and disconnectedness from the world. Many people withdraw into themselves and become aloof and anxious.
The physical symptoms can also have a big impact on a person’s daily functioning. Insomnia or nightmares are common after a traumatic experience, as well as flashbacks, rapid heartbeat, panic attacks, fatigue and trouble concentrating during the day.
As the after effects of trauma become more difficult to bear, many people turn to drugs, alcohol or gambling. They use these to try escape the overwhelming feelings. Unfortunately, it is easier to use a self-destructive coping mechanism than to deal with the issue at hand.
If trauma is not treated timeously, it can also lead to PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). PTSD is a debilitating mental illness that needs intense treatment and often medication.
Trauma debriefing soon after the event can minimise these reactions.
The optimal time for trauma counselling to take place is at least 24 hours after the event. After that, it’s a case of the sooner the better.
If you need a Trauma Counsellor, please contact me for more information.
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MA PSYCHOLOGY (NWU)
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