There are so many forms of psychological trauma, and each one has its own damages. Have you endured trauma? Let’s learn how to deal with it.
From as far back as I can remember, there were “bad things”. When I was 18 years old, my long list of psychological trauma made my therapist cringe. She asked, “How could you have endured so many things at such a young age?”
Maybe my therapist was just saying something to make me feel strong, but then again, maybe my psychological trauma really did seem daunting. Either way, I am now 43 and the list is enormous, so much so that I wrote a book about it. Along with all that, I have these “damages”, as I have grown accustomed to calling them, symptoms or effects that lingered in my life long after the trauma ended. I have grown so used to them that I sometimes forget they are abnormal. I expect everyone to endure this torture.
Psychological trauma really does leave these scars. Not only do some traumatic experiences leave physical scars, but they also leave mental ones as well, scars so deep that, yes, a therapist might be intimidated by your “long list of damages.” So, let me tell you about some of the effects of psychological trauma, and then I will show you how to deal with them.
Let’s look at one of the obvious effects first. PTSD is well-known as a negative result of combat in wartime. Many soldiers experience post-traumatic stress disorder in forms of insomnia, anxiety, and fear. Some of these symptoms can be so severe that outside help and support is the only way to heal.
Now, here’s what many don’t know about PTSD. It can also affect those who have suffered from non-combative events like child abuse and even prolonged relationship abuse as well. These same symptoms and more are present and can last a lifetime in certain cases.
Although this may not seem problematic, it can cause quite a bit of damage. Many people who have experienced trauma for long periods of time will avoid people, places, and things. Avoidance is easier for them than facing potential problems because they’ve simply endured enough trauma already and would rather not deal with anything else.
This is a classic response to many relationship problems as one partner will avoid having a sensitive conversation, thus avoiding the topic. Unfortunately, seeing as communication is key in relationships, avoidance is relationship suicide.
Feelings of depression often happen to those who have endured trauma, whether it’s in the past or still happening. As for psychological forms of trauma, it’s much easier to fall into depths of depression because there is already a significant amount of cognitive damage done.
Traumatic experiences, especially if prolonged, can alter chemicals in the brain. For instance, changes can occur in the limbic system and the pituitary glands affecting the brain and causing sleeplessness and hyperarousal. Depression can either occur due to chemical changes or as a feeling of hopelessness and not being able to regulate those changes that affect other areas of basic functioning.
Unfortunately, trauma affects the memory. Due to drastic emotional scars, many incidences of abuse have been lost in repression, also known as dissociative amnesia. Memory loss also works its damage in other ways as it affects how we retain information later in life too. Because some psychological trauma is so bad, irreparable damage can be done to the basic structures of the brain causing memory loss to occur.
Although mental trauma starts with the mind and emotions, it often results in physical ailments later on. The trauma of this sort can cause so many chemical imbalances that, in time, physical problems such as high blood pressure, digestive issues, and even migraine headaches can become the norm. Unfortunately, some of these ailments become permanent fixtures in your life.
Because trauma is sometimes so severe, it can cause anxiety disorders to develop. There are triggers which can transport the mind back to the moment of the trauma and cause symptoms of anxiety to occur – these symptoms usually include, increased heart rate, shaking, and suffocating fear. These symptoms, along with many others, can cause the sufferer to experience panic attacks which can sometimes be difficult to maintain.
Hallucinations and delusions
Although hallucinations are not as common as some of the other effects, they can prove to be quite dangerous. Because trauma has left such a deep imprint upon the mind, it’s safe to say that the mind starts to work differently, sending and receiving strange signals. These signals have a way of creating false pictures and other fantastic stimuli for the senses. You can also experience a false sense of superiority as well after living through traumatic events.
One of the most dangerous effects of psychological trauma is self-harm. This can be considered anything from cutting to addictive scratching. Even nail-biting is considered self-harm in some circumstances. Trauma causes a few mindsets to emerge including the need to punish yourself because you feel the trauma was your fault, or the need to quell the mental pain with physical pain. Self-harm can also be seen as an outward manifestation of anxiety, useless but necessary, like an addiction.
Is there hope for victims of psychological trauma?
There is hope, yes. There are a few things you can try in order to start the healing process. The first thing you must do is understand the root of the problem. When did the abuse happen? Who was the perpetrator? How long did the abuse continue? All these factors will help you determine the best route to recovery. For now, here are a few basics.
Find the root
Again, you must first learn the root of your behavior. If you cannot remember things from the past, but feel like something significantly bad has happened to you, talk to relatives and family friends. This first step will be difficult if you cannot remember. As the memories rush in, you will need a good support system to keep you grounded.
Another initial step will be to seek professional help. I know you’ve heard this before, but I couldn’t stress this more. A professional usually has extensive experience in dealing with these things, and will also be able to help you get started on your journey to recovery.
Eliminate negative influences
If you feel like you are surrounded by abusive people or anyone who seems bad for you, then you might want to consider ending these associations. If someone is abusing you again, you will never be able to heal. I personally had to get away from a loved one in order to start my life over. I noticed a drastic improvement when I did so.
Most of all, learn to love yourself. You are a wonderful person and you deserve the best that life has to offer. Seek things you love to do and do more of them. Appreciate your opinions and tastes. Understand that life is a journey and you need to find your place on the path you decide to take.
Psychological trauma is something that can either make or break you in life. I know some of you don’t want to hear me say, “it’s up to you”, but it really is. No one will have the desire to be happy for you, so you must take charge of your life. Yes, the trauma may have changed you, but you can use this change as rebirth!
Copyright © 2012-2023 Learning Mind. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint, contact us.