Trauma is the emotional response after a terrible accident. Longer-term trauma reactions include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships and even physical symptoms like headaches or nausea. The response or reaction may not be serious to the third person but must have affected you more than normal. And carrying on with properly dealing and solving the issue can lead to difficulties at work and in your personal life. It is important to talk and get professional help when facing such issues.
To understand more on unresolved trauma with individuals, TC46 connected with Psychologist, Hirak Patel. Here, she shares 8 signs that an individual might be deal with unresolved trauma and tips to deal with it.
1. Traumatic events can lead to anxiety and depression
Our lives consist of both positive and negative experiences. As we enjoy positive experiences, we also face negative events. Some negative events can be more intense and severe than usual, which can be traumatic to an individual. A traumatic event is an event that is emotionally, physically and psychologically distressing, where the person finds it difficult to cope and deal with the trauma. It often involves a threat to the life or safety of an individual, which is an overwhelming experience. It does not necessarily involve physical harm. The trauma can arise due to an event that can be either one time or an ongoing event. Some examples of traumatic events are – the death of a family member or loved one, serious illness, financial loss or loss of a person, accident, rape, abuse (physical, psychological or sexual), terrorism or natural disaster. A traumatic event can lead to mental health concerns like anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or depression. However, one needs to take into consideration that not everyone experiencing stress or emotional distress will experience trauma.
2. Unresolved trauma can affect your current relations, both professional and personal
A traumatic event can impact an individual in different ways. As it becomes difficult to deal with the experience, it is also likely to create an impact in an individual’s life in various ways and domains. The person can develop a variety of physical, psychological or emotional symptoms that impacts the person. The person can also feel difficulties at work as they may not be able to concentrate or focus on the task, experience feeling of hopelessness and not finding any motivation or interest to work & indulge themselves in different activities. Not wanting to interact or discuss with people, wanting to stay alone, aloof, anger, frequent emotional outburst, feelings of not been understood by others and insecurity can affect relationships that the person shares with others.
3. Know what triggers your trauma
There would be moments or situations where you would feel anxious, overwhelmed, and feel like you are reliving the traumatic event. Identify the triggers by understanding the events like birthdays or anniversary, place, or person who reminds you about the trauma that makes you feel anxious. By identifying specific types of thoughts, feelings and situations, one can identify the triggers and deal with them.
4. Trauma can manifest as both emotional and psychological symptoms
A person who is experiencing trauma can feel a range of emotional or psychological symptoms immediately and they can continue for the long term. Trauma can manifest in different ways which can include emotional and psychological symptoms. The person feels shocked, helpless and overwhelmed.
Everyone reacts to trauma in different ways, the person can experience several symptoms like:
- Difficulty in concentrating
- The feeling of being isolated
- Loss of interest in the activities
- Anger or frequent outburst
- Mood swings
- Feeling anxious
- Poor self-esteem
- Nightmares and insomnia
- Extreme emotional reactions
- Drastic change and loss of appetite
If it persists for a longer period of time, then the person can also develop mental health concerns like PTSD, anxiety or depression.
5. Traumatic events can affect the individual’s bodily functions and cause muscle tensions and nausea
A traumatic event can also affect an individual physically along with emotional and psychological symptoms. A person can also manifest physical symptoms that could include headaches, fatigue, sweating, indigestion or nausea. If the person is going through some medical condition, then the trauma could worsen the condition cause muscle tension and a racing heartbeat.
6. It’s vital to look out for warning signs of unhealed trauma in an individual
A traumatic experience does impact a person, but can also lead to emotional, psychological or physical symptoms. When the person is not able to cope or heal, even after a long time, it can lead to mental health concerns. It can also create difficulties for the person in their daily functioning.
There are certain signs that show that an individual has not been able to heal from the traumatic event, and is struggling to deal with it. Some of the signs can be:
- Not feeling good about anything happening around, entangled with negative thoughts for most of the time
- The person can become fearful of any change, thus any sort of change frightens the individual. The person becomes resistant and finds it difficult to adjust to any change.
- The person may feel difficult to ask for help, communicate and discuss the traumatic event, struggles in revisiting situations, place or person that reminds the person of the traumatic event
- There are certain unexplainable symptoms, or feeling of loneliness, staying aloof, frequent emotional outburst, feeling of emptiness, doubting self, as trauma can create a negative self-image
- Unable to control negative thoughts
- Similar situations creating anxiety. It is important to understand and not avoid or ignore any signs which show that the person is still struggling to deal with the trauma so that appropriate help can be provided at the time
7. Seek professional help at the right time to deal with things better
Persistence of symptoms for a longer period and inability to cope with the event would require professional intervention. As everyone takes their own time to heal from trauma and has different coping styles, at times it becomes overwhelming and it is suggestible that person seeks professional help to deal with the trauma. It can be dealt with therapy which would focus on developing resilience and healthy coping mechanisms. There are several signs like uncontrollable sadness, anger, emotional distress, feelings of helplessness. If the symptoms persist for a longer period of time, the symptoms and individual could get worse. The symptoms affect the individual in their daily functioning and create more stress and increased feelings of anxiety and depression. It is always better to seek professional help at an appropriate time to deal with the trauma in a better way and build upon several skills that can be implemented in day to day life.
8. Patience and self-love go a long way in helping resolve trauma
Experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event is likely to develop a fear, threat and make the person feel extremely overwhelmed. The risk factors associated with it can also depend on severity, proximity and the frequent exposure of the traumatic event. If trauma is unresolved, it may interfere with the daily functioning of the person. It is important that the person is given some time to mourn, breathe and react to the loss as it is a natural process. It is normal to experience such emotions and reactions given the nature of the event. As healing takes time, one needs to be patient and allow some time without being harsh on oneself. Having an open discussion, letting your emotions out can also help, instead of avoiding addressing the concern. It is better that you keep yourself occupied and involved as much as you can in other things, however, do not pressure yourself into something.
For people who are around the individual experiencing any traumatic event or is trying to deal with it, they can help in three ways:
- They can provide support by being there for the individual when there is a need.
- Listen so that the person safely express their feelings.
- Be patient with them, help the person relax and socialize as much as you can.
Not being harsh on yourself and allowing yourself to feel the way you are feeling and allowing space and time to cope and build resilience, is the best step ahead. Remember to seek professional help without hesitating.