Are you concerned that you or a loved one may be struggling with trauma? Learn about the causes, signs, and effects to identify whether professional treatment may be necessary.
Learn about trauma
Traumatic experiences are sudden and unexpected and happen without an individual being able to control them. These experiences can be emotionally and physically upsetting and can cause long-term feelings of anxiety. Some traumatic experiences include unexpected loss, family or community violence, accidents, injury, physical or sexual assault, and medical emergencies. For an experience to be traumatic, it must cause feelings of terror and loss of control. In some cases, individuals might experience repeated traumatic events.
Trauma can alter an individual’s perspective on life. In some cases, untreated trauma can lead to a trauma or stressor-related disorder like posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Those afflicted with this condition might work to numb themselves or forget traumatic memories through the abuse of substances or other risky behaviors. Trauma might cause individuals to look for comfort, fight or run from real or perceived threats, or experience anxiety and/or panic. If trauma has happened within an individual’s life, it is critical that he or she obtains therapeutic care in a secure setting.
Some examples of traumatic experiences can include:
- Exposure to natural disasters, such as fires, earthquakes, or deadly storms
- Experience of imprisonment, kidnapping, rape, sex trafficking, or sexual assault
- Being a victim of domestic violence
- Experiencing verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse
- Witnessing a terrorist attack
- Being kidnapped or held hostage
- Witnessing or experiencing abuse or violence at home or in the community
- Experiencing or witnessing a severe automobile accident
- Medical emergencies or medical accidents
- Experience as a prisoner of war, or witnessing war
Even if a catastrophic event occurred a long time ago, the impact can last for years if the appropriate treatment is not available to help manage the pain. As experts continue to learn more about the impact of untreated trauma on the brain, methods of treatment increase the ability for individuals to return to a happier lifestyle without struggling from the upsetting symptoms of trauma.
Trauma treatment helps reduce the consistent fear and anxiety that one experiences, and can help an individual develop healthier coping skills. Even if traumatic experiences were intense, healing and hope are possible.
As much as 70% of Americans have gone through a traumatic event. 5% of those individuals will go on to develop a trauma-related disorder like PTSD. Instances of rape, physical violence, sexual assault, automobile accidents, and unexpected death of loved ones account for the majority of PTSD and trauma-related disorders.
Signs and symptoms of trauma
Trauma might impact an individual’s ability to live a happy life, but the effects of trauma might not present themselves until long after the trauma has occurred. These responses to trauma might appear similar to normal reactions. However, as time moves on and the trauma response does not change, it can be beneficial to obtain treatment.
Reminders or trauma can trigger trauma-related reactions. Below are some of the common symptoms and signs of a problem with trauma:
- Strong and immediate startle response
- Body pains and aches or unexplained illnesses
- Difficulty breathing or hyperventilation
- Problems falling asleep or getting a solid night of sleep
- Chronic fatigue or exhaustion
- Muscle and body tension
- Pounding heart or shaking hands in response to trauma reminders
- Avoiding other people, isolating self
- Reacting compulsively to avoid fears or emotions
- Starting conflicts or arguments
- Agitation and restlessness
- Acting out with dangerous, risky, or irrational behavior
- Behaving inappropriately in social situations
- Using alcohol or drugs to avoid negative thoughts and emotions
- Avoiding previously enjoyable activities
- Sudden anger, rage, or mood swings
- Poor self-image
- Excessive anxiety, fear, or worry
- Lack of interest in enjoyable activities
- Hopelessness or sadness
- Shame, guilt, or self-blame
- Difficulty staying on task or concentrating
- Forgetfulness of time and place
- Powerful intrusive memories
- Flashbacks, or re-experiencing the trauma
- Derealization, or confused thinking
- Disturbing or upsetting dreams
- “Out of body” feelings, or depersonalization
Effects of trauma
Trauma undoubtedly requires treatment. A solid support system or treatment team can alter the entire outcome of an individual’s life. When trauma goes untreated, the following upsetting experiences can develop:
- Illnesses or physical problems
- Thoughts of death or suicide, suicidal ideation, or suicide attempts
- Conflicts within relationships and friendships
- Consequences due to anger or impulsive decisions
- Financial difficulties
- Development of posttraumatic stress disorder, chronic anxiety, depression, or other mental illnesses
- Illnesses or physical health issues
- Job loss or inability to gain employment
- Substance abuse, addiction, or dependency on substances
Trauma and co-occurring disorders
Unfortunately, many people who experience trauma struggle with multiple mental health conditions. The likelihood of co-occurring disorders increases when an individual has had trauma in their lives. Additionally, pre-existing mental health conditions can grow worse.
Some mental health conditions that can occur alongside trauma and that we treat at our hospital include:
- Bipolar disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Anxiety disorders
Why consider treatment for trauma at Belmont Behavioral Hospital in Philadelphia, PA
Traumatic experiences can take over an individual’s life. Most people will walk away from trauma feeling sad, anxious, out of control, or possibly even guilty or shameful. These feelings can occur at the same time, or they might cycle, and they often continue even when the individual knows they are illogical.
Trauma symptoms can affect an individual’s happiness, and they might also bring about distrust and wariness about one’s surroundings. Without effective treatment, these symptoms will continue, and can result in a life that is lonely. An individual’s quality of life, physical and psychological health, and the lives of his or her family members will improve significantly with treatment.
Inpatient care is safe and effective and can help an individual defeat trauma. With the help of evidence-based treatments and individualized care plans, the professionals at our treatment center can help reduce symptoms within weeks. Treatments including cognitive behavior therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), somatic experience therapy, and dialectical behavioral therapy can help an individual develop a much more balanced life.
It is possible to heal from trauma. Scientists are beginning to understand how trauma re-wires the brain, allowing therapists to help those who are traumatized undo the destructive patterns of terror and help the individual release him- or herself from the upsetting thoughts and emotions surrounding the event. Many treatments are effective, and patients do not have to continue to re-live the pain that they experienced before so they can heal.
Since our trauma treatment center offers 24/7 care, it is a very effective means to start healing. No matter how serious a person’s trauma is, at our treatment center in Philadelphia, recovery is possible.