Trauma is the brain’s normal reaction to any event that shatters your safe world so that it is no longer safe. It is an overwhelming emotional reaction which leads to the inability to function, and it is not a sign of personal weakness. Instead our brain engages survival responses whenever we’re faced with these events in the form of fight, flight or freeze responses.
When experiencing trauma, we may be unable to sleep, think, work, be confident, trust or relax. We lose the ability to think and feel. All kinds of trauma create stress reactions. Common ones can include depression, anger, drug and substance abuse, shame, fear, lying, screaming, nightmares and/or tiredness, just to name a few.
There are several types of trauma, however we will take a closer look into psychological/emotional trauma. This form is a result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless in a dangerous world. Psychological trauma can leave a person struggling with upsetting emotions, memories, and anxiety that won’t go away. As well as feelings of numbness, disconnected, and unable to trust other people.
Emotional and psychological trauma can be caused by:
We all react to trauma in different ways, experiencing a wide range of physical and emotional reactions. But what heals trauma? Trauma symptoms typically last from a few days to a few months, gradually fading as you process the unsettling event. But even when you’re feeling better, you may be troubled from time to time by painful memories or emotions—especially in response to triggers such as an anniversary of the event or something that reminds you of the trauma.
We must feel to heal! Sometimes the trauma reactions (depression, anger, substance abuse, etc.) can keep us stuck. By becoming aware of our reactions, we can understand them and learn how to make them work for us and not against us. The painful memories need to be processed to eliminate intrusive thoughts and negative beliefs, to increase self-esteem and personal empowerment, to feel validated and understood and to reduce trauma symptoms.
In some ways, we’re like a sponge for stress and trauma. And like a sponge, we accumulate it until there is no space to accumulate any more.