How Traumatic Events Can Impact Your Psyche
Trauma is more common than you know.
According to the National Council for Behavioral Health, 70% of American adults will experience a traumatic event in their lifetimes. That is hundreds of millions of people. When you factor in the fact that over 30% of youth will experience trauma, then the picture becomes clear (https://www.thenationalcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Trauma-infographic.pdf?daf=375ateTbd56). The majority of Americans will experience some type of traumatic event.
Trauma is an emotional response to a terrible or surprising event. It can negatively impact your well-being or physical safety. Trauma can be a physical event, such as a car crash or assault. It can also be an emotional event, like having someone threaten you.
Examples of potentially traumatic experiences include sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, car accident, war, witnessing a terrifying event, or living through a natural disaster. It can be a one-off event, but it can also be an ongoing trauma such as domestic violence.
As per dictionary.com, the psyche is defined as the human mind, spirit, or soul (https://www.dictionary.com/browse/psyche). It's essentially your psychological or mental structure. Bear this in mind as we discuss trauma and how it influences your life. It will soon become clear that if left unresolved, it will impact your mind, spirit, and soul.
The Signs of Trauma
Trauma is unique to each person who experiences it, but the most common reactions include feeling very little or feeling emotions strongly. You may be unable to control crying spells, overwhelmed by negative emotions. Or you might feel entirely unable to experience pain or pleasure.
You may also experience shame or guilt when trauma begins to set in. In the case of a natural disaster or major event, survivors often experience survivor's guilt. The feeling of guilt that comes from surviving when other people didn't. This is a normal response to trauma such as this, however, if it lingers for a month or more, then you need assistance with processing your trauma.
Trauma may lead you to:
Experience flashbacks when you think about the trauma or are reminded of it.
Struggle with relating to friends, co-workers, and family.
Experience physical symptoms such as nausea, headaches, and chest pain.
Deal with strong emotions. For example, you may experience strong feelings at inappropriate times such as experiencing intense fear even though you're at home nowhere near where the traumatic event occurred. Or you may feel extreme sadness or anger while at work, though it's unrelated to your trauma.
Feel sensitive to new smells, noises, sights, or things occurring around you.
Have trouble sleeping.
Sleep a lot.
Experience changes in appetite.
Lack enjoyment in the things you always loved before.
While you have likely heard the term PTSD, not everyone who experiences trauma will develop post-traumatic stress disorder. That doesn't mean a traumatic event hasn't impacted your psyche. All of the issues detailed above influence your psyche.
Dealing With Trauma
The first way to address trauma is to understand that you have experienced trauma and therefore will have an emotional response. Once you accept this you can reach out to a medical expert to guide you through the healing process if your trauma lingers and starts to impact your daily life.
One of the most beneficial approaches to coping with trauma is to relieve stress as stress often exacerbates the after-effects of trauma. Exercise, meditation, deep breathing, and yoga are all excellent tools to combat stress. As is spending time with your friends, family, and the people in your community.
The majority of people will bounce back in time. The key is allowing yourself the time and space to heal and knowing when to seek professional help.