What is Trauma?

Experiencing frightening, distressing, or stressful events can be referred to as trauma. Emotional, or psychological trauma refers to situations or events we find traumatic and how these experiences impact us. Traumatic events can happen at any stage of life and can cause long-lasting harm. Everyone has a different reaction to trauma, so you might notice any effects quickly, or a long time afterwards. 

Experiencing new trauma may trigger memories to surface making present problems even harder to cope with. Events that feel traumatic are unique to each individual, no one can judge your experiences and truly understand if they were traumatic for you. We may experience things similarly to others but be affected very differently. Trauma can include situations where you have felt fear, under threat, humiliated, abandoned, rejected, ashamed, the list goes on.   

Trauma can be in consequence of a one-off event that involves you directly, witnessing harm to another, living within a traumatic environment or hearing traumatic accounts from a third party. Your experience of trauma might relate to parts of your identity, including if you've been harassed, bullied or discriminated against. 

When our body feels under threat, we release hormones called cortisol and adrenaline. This is the body's automatic way of preparing to respond to danger, we have no control over it. This is where our fight, flight, freeze, flop and fawn response is formed. 

-The fight response is struggling and protesting 

-The freeze is where you are rooted to the spot, unable to move. 

-The flight is to move or run away or avoid situations all together. 

-The flop is where your muscles become loose so physical pain can be reduced. 

-The fawn is the people pleasing response, trying to befriend the person who is harming you. 

These responses can play out in everyday life and lead to constantly being a people pleaser or a flight response where everyday tasks are avoided and replaced with less helpful behaviours such as addiction whether that be exercise, food, promiscuity or alcohol and substance abuse. 

Even though the trauma is over, the effects can still have an impact years on. It can cause a feeling of constantly being on one’s guard; this is termed hypervigilance. Constantly feeling under threat can cause social anxiety and problems sleeping. You may experience flash backs to the original event. 

If you feel impacted by traumatic events, we can explore these together to understand the effect they are having today and identify coping strategies to deal with these.