Trauma & PTSD Symptoms, Signs, Causes & Effects

The symptoms of trauma and PTSD can take away your ability to enjoy life, and cause you to experience pain on many levels, but when you choose to come to Blue Ridge Mountain Recovery Center, you can begin to build a more promising future.

What is Trauma & PTSD

Learn More About Trauma & PTSD

Trauma is an intense emotional response to a traumatic, severe, and horrible event such as an accident, brutal attack, or natural disaster. Trauma may also be caused by more minor events, such as a car accident or sports injury. A traumatic event typically involves a single or repeated pattern of events that overwhelm an individual’s ability to cope or integrate the emotions involved in the traumatic experience. The feeling of being overwhelmed can last days to years, even as the individual begins to process the trauma.

While trauma & PTSD may be caused by a number of events, there are a few common aspects to a traumatic event. Often, an individual’s ideas about the world and their rights are violated by the trauma, placing the person in a state of insecurity and confusion. Emotional and psychological trauma occur after an individual has experienced a stressful event that has destroyed their sense of safety. Usually the individual feels that this experience has threatened their life or sense of security.

Psychological trauma may be accompanied by physical trauma or not. It is the emotional experience of the event for an individual that determines if it is traumatic or not. The more frightened and helpless you feel the more likely you are to be traumatized or develop PTSD. It’s not the objective facts of the trauma-induced situation that matter, but the subjective emotional experience of the event.

An event may be stressful especially if the following apply to the event:

  • It happened repeatedly
  • It occurred in childhood
  • You suffered an intense emotional reaction
  • The event was unexpected
  • You felt powerless to prevent it
  • It was highly cruel

Emotional and psychological trauma can occur after a one time horrible event or can be caused by ongoing stress. While not all potentially traumatic events lead to emotional and psychological damage, some individuals are left devastated by certain experiences. Often times an individual will experience shock and denial immediately following the event. While it is normal to experience feelings or periods of unpredictable emotions, some individuals are unable to move on with their lives after experiencing trauma and need to seek help for recovery.

Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-Occurring Disorders and the Complexity of Trauma & PTSD

Certain mental illnesses predispose individuals to trauma or PTSD. These co-occurring disorders may include:

  • Substance abuse disorders
  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Mood disorders
  • Attachment disorders
  • Eating disorders


Causes of Trauma & PTSD

No one can say for sure why some individuals have lasting emotional and psychological damage as a result of trauma or PTSD, but some events have the potential to be more traumatic than others. Some of these events may include:

  • Sexual abuse
  • Falls or sport injuries
  • Life-threatening illness
  • Surgery
  • Car accidents
  • Sudden death of loved one
  • Natural disasters
  • Domestic violence

There are some contributing factors to the development of trauma & PTSD for some individuals. These include:

  • Intense amounts of stress
  • Previous losses – especially in childhood
  • Poor coping skills
  • A number of losses in recent past
  • Substance abuse
  • Total devastation
  • Abuse

Signs & Symptoms

Signs & Symptoms of Trauma & PTSD

After an individual experiences a traumatic event or has been exposed to repeated trauma there are a variety of physical and emotional emotions that may be experienced. Some of these symptoms may include:

Mood and Psychological symptoms:

  • Shock, denial, disbelief
  • Feeling disconnected or numb
  • Anger or irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety and fear
  • Guilt or shame
  • Sadness
  • Emotional numbing
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Depression
  • Hopelessness

Physical symptoms:

  • Insomnia
  • Nightmares
  • Muscles tension
  • Hypervigilant
  • Easily startled
  • Fatigue
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Aches and pains
  • Headaches
  • Nausea

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Withdrawing from others
  • Being on edge
  • Agitated
  • Avoiding things that may remind you of the trauma
  • Social isolation


Effects of Trauma & PTSD

Some long-term reactions to an experienced trauma may include:

  • Unpredictable emotions
  • Flashbacks
  • Strained relationships
  • Trouble functioning at home or work
  • Severe depression
  • Alcohol or other substance abuse
  • Terrifying memories or nightmares
  • Emotionally numb or disconnected
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Suicide
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