Trauma & its Effects - Great Health Guide
Trauma & its Effects

Trauma & its Effects

Written by Susie Flashman Jarvis

Trauma can occur in our lives due to a variety of circumstances; witnessing the death of loved one or a stranger. It could occur because of abuse when young or an event that resulted in a near death experience. It could be because of rape or an abortion. The truth is that we are all individuals and how we experience stress is unique to each of us as well. However, there are symptoms that we have in common.

The problem with trauma and its effects, is that it manifests itself in a variety of ways and can result in some long-term problems that may need therapeutic support. While trauma is a normal reaction to a horrible event, the effects can be so severe that they interfere with an individual’s ability to live a normal life.

What are the symptoms of trauma?

They are often characterised into four groups: denial, feelings, behaviours and physical effects.

1. Denial: a powerful defence mechanism

2. Feelings: ranging from pointlessness, anxiety, depression, guilt of survival, fear of crowds, fear of recurrence of event, loss of confidence and even the inability to feel at all, i.e. numbness

3. Behaviours: unable to concentrate, impulsivity, disturbed sleep, isolating behaviour, irritability, manic episodes

4. Physical effects: ranging from, headaches, stomach pains, listlessness, hyperactivity, increased drinking of alcohol or drugs and heart palpitations.

Some victims of trauma, may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is because we all react to trauma in different ways. Those who do develop it may find that it disappears within some weeks after the event, whilst some PTDS symptoms do not develop until months or years after the event.

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms.

  • flashbacks

  • avoiding reminders

  • being on guard – hypervigilant

  • general symptoms such as depression and anxiety

  • self-destructive behaviour such as alcohol abuse, suicidal thoughts, risky sexual behaviour

  • life-threatening behaviour such as driving at extreme speeds.

Who is at risk of developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Anyone who has been victimised or witnessed a violent act. They can be survivors of domestic abuse, victims of rape and muggings, car accidents, neglected children, survivors of bomb blasts, veterans, police, fire-fighters, military or even someone who has had an invasive medical procedure.

For many years I have worked with men and women whose lives have been blighted by events that took place when they were young. It may have been a one-off event or a series of events. The effect is the same, a traumatised inner child that may never have been able to speak, never been able to tell the secret that is locked within the adult. It is as space and time is given that the child, supporting them to speak, that the adult experiences freedom. It is a specific way of working and needs someone trained to work with victims of trauma. It does however bring freedom.

I have also worked with women who have seen someone die or have been victims of domestic abuse. Once again, the sanctity of the therapeutic alliance, the relationship between client and therapist can enable someone to speak and begin the journey of freedom.

I have sat with clients who have had a close family member die with them in a car crash. The process that gradually brought them through the trauma was time, a space to talk, to remember, a place to risk their feelings with someone safe. It was that they felt the guilt at having survived and then chose to live when they were restored.

If you are affected by this article, do seek help, it is there. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and you can make it through.

Author of this article:
Susie Flashman Jarvis is an accredited counsellor, speaker and ambassador for the charity Restored working towards bringing an end to violence against women. Check out Susie’s latest radio interview here. Susie’s novel, At Therapy’s End, tackles the issue of domestic abuse. Susie is also an executive coach based in the UK and is available for skype sessions. Susie may be contacted via her website.

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