Trauma may refer to a fear based response due to an incident involving a traumatic and stressful experience (psychological trauma) or a severe physical injury (physical trauma) which can cause permanent and/or life threatening issues.
Simply put trauma is a severe experience that can leave an individual feeling mentally unstable or in a severely debilitated physical state.
Both psychological and physical trauma can be treated with therapy, medication and time.
Those who have suffered from psychological trauma may seek out a therapist, psychologist or mental health specialist to help them deal with their situation while individuals suffering from physical trauma may choose to work with a rehabilitation center or physical therapist to help them recover from their injury.
Here is a description of the two primary types of trauma an individual may receive and how it can affect their lives.
Psychological trauma is often fear based and the individual suffering from the trauma may either be conscious or unconscious of the driving forces behind the deep emotional/psychological conflicts they face due to the trauma.
Trauma often disrupts an individual’s sense of safety and security to a detrimental extent and causes the individual to feel overwhelmed and unable to respond to current and future stresses that are similar in nature.
Those who experience severe psychologically traumatic situations may develop negative beliefs, perceptions and habits that may make it difficult for them to develop healthy relationships, maintain high self-esteem and lead happy and healthy lives.
Mental trauma is often caused by a highly emotional and/or stressful experience that leaves the individual feeling unable to cope with certain situations that were caused by the traumatic experience in which they would have no issue coping with or dealing with the same situation.
Mental trauma is not always caused by continues negative exposure to an event.
Sometimes it can be caused by a single exposure such as those who have been a victim of rape or witnessed a murder.
A single exposure to a traumatic experience is all it takes to cause long-lasting damage to an individuals psyche.
In fact a single or a few exposures is all that is required to trigger a psychological connection between the negative experience and the trauma that the individual is suffering from.
Psychological trauma may also lead to a state depression (a long-lasting feeling of hopelessness that is often combined with low self-esteem) which causes individuals to maintain their negative emotional state for long periods of time rather than during specific trauma inducing events.
Note: Trauma may cause an individual to relapse or go into a strong negative emotional state (which prevents the individual from being able to make a decision or react to an event) when they experience a trauma inducing event such as witnessing a car accident that brings up memories of an accident they were involved in or when an individual was traumatized by spiders as a child and becomes extremely frightened whenever they come into contact with a spider while depression is a long-lasting feeling of hopelessness which can last for a long period of time and may or may not be triggered by a specific event.
To give you a better understanding of what can cause an individual to suffer from a psychologically traumatizing experience here are some examples of situations that may cause mental trauma:
Rape – Trauma is often associated with rape victims who have been physically and/or mentally abused.
Victims may experience a severe loss of control and inability to protect themselves due to being physically assaulted and can develop unhealthy beliefs that may interfere with their ability to form healthy relationships, trust people and develop healthy mental/emotional coping mechanisms in important areas of their life due to this traumatic experience.
This type of trauma can alter an individual’s perception of reality causing them to become insecure around other well-intentioned individuals.
Crime – Individuals who live in high crime areas, have witnessed a crime or were victims of a crime may develop unhealthy perceptions of people, have difficulty communicating with others and be unable to form close relationships because of a fear of becoming a victim of a future crime.
Mental/Physical abuse – Trauma can be caused by mental and/or physical abuse within a household or community.
This form of abuse may cause an individual to develop negative beliefs about him or herself and lead to low self-esteem and a sense of worthlessness.
These forms are often caused by households that have abusive parents and/or family members and in communities where an individual may be bullied such as at a school.
Strong emotional/physiological experiences – Those who are suffering from trauma due to a strong emotional and/or psychological experience may or may not have been involved directly in the experience, but may have witnessed the event and become unsettled by what they saw, heard or experienced.
This can include experiencing situations where a friend may have been severely injured in a fight or car/bike accident, during a situation in which a child or young adult experienced another family member being abused or in a career setting where violence or severe injuries can occur on a regular basis such as being a police officer, fire fighter or UFC competitor.
Exposure to War, death & conflict – Trauma is often experienced by those who have been in a war or experienced death.
Both new recruits and war veterans may experience trauma due to the experiences they’ve faced in war rather it was seeing their close friend killed or having to kill someone else in order to survive.
These forms of trauma can often cause life long psychological conflicts which may make it difficult to live a happy and healthy life once they go back to the society of everyday living.
In each of these cases an individual may suffer from a traumatic experience that can lead to difficulty coping with normal parts of their lives and while not always the case the more severe a situation is the worse the trauma can become and the fewer exposures necessary to cause mental trauma in an individual.
Physical trauma generally occurs when an individual receives a serious injury that can cause significant health problems or even death if untreated.
Physical trauma can occur when a person receives a strong blow from a blunt object, when an individual is involved in a serious accident such as a car accident, when a person suffers from a sudden severe cardiovascular failure, when an individual has a heart attack or seizure and when a person receives a brain injury due to head trauma as well as a number of other physical situations that may lead to trauma.
Here a few of the common causes of physical trauma:
Physical abuse/assault – Trauma may be caused by a physical assault from a fight or an attack. It can also be caused in situations where a child or adult is being physically abused by another individual.
Automobile accident – A large number of traumas occur during automobile accidents such as when a car collides with another solid object causing the individuals in the automobile to suffer from injuries when their body collides with a part of the vehicle and/or due to undue strain on the muscles and tendons of the body from the high velocity of movement that occurs during an accident.
Collision with a blunt object – An individual may suffer from a trauma due to a collision with a blunt object such as falling down a flight of steps or being hit with a hard object.
These types of collisions may cause either body or brain trauma depending on the part of the body that is injured during the collision.
Sports accidents – Sports accidents are known to cause trauma, especially in high contact sports such as football or in sports where players may be traveling at a high speed such as skiing events.
Slips and falls – Trauma can be caused by a hard fall such as when a person slips on ice or trips over a curb.
As with psychological trauma those who suffer from long-lasting physical trauma may develop feelings of depression due to a lack of mobility and an inability to perform regular and/or demanding physical tasks.
This sometimes occurs in sports athletes that have a strong desire to be mobile and participate in sports.
A physically debilitating traumatic event may cause them to begin feeling depressed as they are no longer able to participate in the same physical activities they once enjoyed.
In conclusion, trauma is an event in which an individual suffers from a strong negative response to an experience that has the potential to cause a long-lasting negative impact on his/her life in a psychologically or physically debilitating way.
With proper medical care consisting of therapy, medication and time the effects of a trauma may be reduced or even eliminated depending on the type of trauma an individual is faced with.
Without proper medical care an individual’s trauma may worsen or lead an individual into a state of depression and an inability to cope with their condition.