We all feel overwhelmed and traumatized at times. But when things reach a breaking point, it is important to recognize the signs of trauma in yourself and in others.
Most people don’t realize that trauma can manifest itself in various physical and mental symptoms. If these sound familiar, it may be time to take a closer look at the symptoms of trauma.
Continue reading to learn more!
Physical Symptoms of Trauma
Physical symptoms of trauma are often the most apparent and often the most troubling. Common physical symptoms include the following.
Body Aches and Pain
Body aches and pains can affect individuals who have experienced trauma. These types of physical sensations are often underlying trauma symptoms of psychological distress. This can worsen over time and interfere with day-to-day functioning.
Common body aches and pains associated with trauma include:
- chest tightness
- back and neck pain
- stomach cramping
- general feelings of fatigue
Generally, these types of physical sensations may be accompanied by other signs of trauma. Examples are flashbacks, behavioral changes, sleep disturbances, and intense feelings of fear and anxiety.
In addition, body aches and pain can worsen with physical stressors. It becomes more frequent or severe when triggered by specific situations.
Sleep Disturbances and Fatigue
Sleep disturbances and fatigue are common symptoms of trauma. Trauma can disrupt a person’s sleep/wake cycle. This leads to difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, nightmares, and early awakening.
Over time, a lack of sufficient restorative sleep can cause:
- decreased energy
- problems with focus and memory
Additionally, trauma can cause physical and emotional exhaustion and make it difficult to find the energy to complete day-to-day tasks. It can also be difficult to take pleasure in activities that may have been enjoyable in the past.
Digestive Issues and Appetite Changes
Those who are suffering from psychological trauma might experience digestive distress, including the following:
- abdominal pain
They might also suffer from appetite changes such as an inability to eat, reduced hunger, or feeling full after small meals. Other food-related issues, such as avoiding certain types of food, may also be caused by trauma.
These symptoms can be temporary, though in some cases, they can persist for weeks or months and even cause permanent damage.
Cardiovascular and Respiratory Symptoms
Heart rate may increase or fluctuate erratically in response to trauma. Deep and erratic breathing may be experienced due to high levels of stress and anxiety or an increase in levels of adrenaline.
Symptoms such as chest tightness, lack of energy, confusion, and dizziness also occur after a traumatic event. In some cases, cardiovascular or respiratory distress may be further compounded by traumatic injuries to the chest.
Pain around the chest area and increased pulse or breathing rate can further contribute to physical distress. In extreme cases, cardiovascular and respiratory symptoms of trauma can include:
- respiratory distress
- oxygen deprivation
- cardiac arrest
Emotional Symptoms of Trauma
Emotional symptoms of trauma often manifest after a traumatic event. These symptoms can interfere with daily life and relationships. Here are a few symptoms to look out for:
Overwhelming Anxiety and Fear
These symptoms may be experienced as a flashback or a physical or emotional reaction in response to a traumatic event or memory. The fear and anxiety can become so intense that it affects the person’s ability to go about their daily life.
Numbness and Detachment
Numbness and detachment are common symptoms of trauma. People who have experienced traumatic events often feel disconnected and emotionally isolated from others. It can be difficult to engage in meaningful relationships.
Anger and Irritability
Anger and irritability are common signs of trauma. A person suffering from trauma may quickly become angry or may lash out in a seemingly uncontrolled manner.
It’s important to understand that these outbursts are usually caused by an emotional response to a terrifying experience. Trauma often causes survivors to be hyper-vigilant or on guard for possible danger.
As a result, survivors can become extremely sensitive to perceived threats and become angry quickly. In addition, other signs of trauma-related anger can be defensive posturing, hurtful comments, or physical aggression.
Trauma survivors may also feel like they cannot control their anger or their behavior at the moment. It can be important to remember that these behaviors are natural survival responses to an intense, overwhelming, and frightening experience.
Hypervigilance and Hyperarousal
Hypervigilance and hyperarousal are two common symptoms of trauma. Hypervigilance refers to heightened awareness and alertness. It is often accompanied by an exaggerated response to perceived threats.
Such reactions can include:
- extreme irritability
- a feeling of always being on guard
- erratic behavior
- excessive primping
Hyperarousal is the second common symptom of trauma. It involves an individual becoming physically and emotionally aroused more easily and intensely than would otherwise be expected in a situation.
Symptoms of hyperarousal can present as follows:
- difficulty sleeping
- difficulty focusing
- aggressive outbursts
- panic attacks
- racing heartbeat
- sudden mood shifts
- feelings of extreme anxiety and dread
It is important to note that while these symptoms might be the same across the board, the intensity and manifestation can vary from person to person.
PTSD treatments can help individuals manage their trauma. With the help of professionals, the path to recovery is possible.
Learning the Symptoms of Trauma
Trauma is an extremely complex and individualized experience. It can show up in many different ways, from feelings of guilt and fear to episodes of flashbacks and nightmares.
It’s important to remember that symptoms of trauma vary greatly from person to person. If you or someone you know is struggling with the effects of trauma, please consult a mental health professional.
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