Traumatic experiences can leave an individual with upsetting emotions, nightmares, frightening memories, or a constant sense of danger. Feeling numb or disconnected can also be an aftereffect of an intensely disturbing experience.
When an individual feels overwhelmed or that his/her life is in danger, the neurological system is overloaded much like the electrical system of a home. When the circuits are overloaded by too much energy, they shut down to protect the system. When the human system is overwhelmed, as in trauma, it also shuts down. This is how humans can protect themselves yet are able to function in horrific circumstances (e.g. floods, fires, etc).
Emotional trauma can be different for each individual. Any situation that leaves someone feeling overwhelmed can be traumatic to varying degrees. People typically think of trauma as a highly intense situation but there are various forms of trauma.
- Victim of Violence
- Witness to Violence
- Death of Loved One
- Catastrophe (e.g. terror attack, weather)
Other Significant Traumas
- Auto Accident
- Serious Illness or Surgery
- Humiliating Experience
- Loss of a Significant Relationship
A history of early childhood trauma can leave an individual more at risk for later trauma reactions.
Childhood trauma include:
- Serious Illness
- Sexual, Physical or Verbal Abuse
- Separation or Loss of a Parent
Emotional Symptoms related to Trauma:
- Shock, Denial
- Anger, agitation
- Guilt, Shame
- Sadness, Hopelessness
- Anxiety or Fear
- Withdrawal from Others
- Feeling Disconnected
- Difficulty with Concentration
- Hypervigilance (intense and exaggerated arousal)
Recovering from a trauma takes time and individuals heal at their own pace. Over time, the shock of the event may dissipate as well as nightmares or intruding memories. It is important that the individual or victim of a trauma receive support from friends and family. Individuals who continue to experience symptoms that interfere with their lives should seek professional help.
- Having Trouble functioning at home, work or school
- Suffering from Fear, Anxiety or Depression
- Intruding Memories or Nightmares
- Feeling Emotionally Numb or Disconnected
- Using Alcohol or Drugs to cope with or avoid symptoms
What is most important in treating trauma is creating a safe environment where the individual can openly share past memories. Individuals may carry shame or embarrassment, so our therapists do not judge but create a warm and trusting alliance. Research has demonstrated that there are effective ways to treat trauma, particularly with EMDR and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Therapists at The Institute for Change have training and experience in these modalities of treatment.
Please call us at (973) 734.0780 for a consultation.