Trauma is the physical, emotional and psychological response that is triggered within us when we experience heightened fear or extreme anxiety with no opportunity to remove ourselves from the situation.
When an animal comes under threat in the wild, for example, they will “fight or flee”. Once the danger has passed, animals will often “shake off” the experience. However, for some people, this stress response may continue and the experience will tend to stay with the person and remain unresolved – as if the danger never went away. When there are multiple and/or long-term experiences of trauma this can develop into a problem of Complex Trauma. In complex trauma the heightened experience of threat can, for some people, result in a lifestyle of coping with symptoms.
This is how we develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can
present itself in a number of ways, including:
- Flashbacks and/or nightmares of the traumatic event
- Heightened levels of fear and anxiety
- Disconnection from our emotions (general feeling of “numbness”)
- Lowered self-esteem or sense of self worth
- Feelings of shame
- Strong urge to avoid the location of the traumatic event
- Physical issues stemming from the stress and anxiety of the trauma
- Suicidal thoughts