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Five Facts about Trauma

Experiencing a trauma is never easy, and it often takes a lot of time and energy to heal from it. Everyone experiences trauma in a way that is unique to them, and therefore each experience involves a unique healing process.


No one ever really knows what to expect after experiencing trauma. Will life be the same? Will things ever feel normal again? What do I do now? These are commonly asked questions, and the answers are different for everyone. Some people are able to move on relatively quickly and others may struggle for months or even years. There is no one "right" way to process trauma.


It’s important to give yourself time and space to heal. This may mean being off of work for a while, spending extra time with family and friends, or just being gentle with yourself as you’re going about your day-to-day, remembering to do some much-needed self-reflection to ensure you’re in a good state of mind.


Whatever you do, make sure you are taking care of yourself both physically and emotionally.

And, if you are struggling to cope with trauma, please reach out for help. There are many resources available to you. You are not alone.

If you’re looking to know more about trauma because you went through something that you feel has changed your life or you know someone who has been through it, there are a few things that you should know. Here are some little-known facts about trauma that can jumpstart the healing process:


There is both Big T and little t.

Many people who use the word trauma often do not realize that there are different categories, or levels if you will, that get assigned after the experience. “Big T” describes trauma that occurs from large traumatic events, such as a car accident or war. “Little t,” on the other hand, describes events that are not “life threatening,” such as a death of a loved one or getting a divorce. Both types of traumas are difficult to deal with and affect everyone differently, so the assignment of either Big T or little t is going to vary from person to person.


Trauma can cause physical pain symptoms.

People assume that since trauma has to largely with one’s mental state it could not possibly affect a person physically. However, people who have experienced trauma have reported some very real physical effects. The physical symptoms of trauma can vary depending on the individual and the type of trauma experienced. But some common physical symptoms of trauma include headaches; dizziness; nausea; fatigue; muscle pain; difficulty sleeping; difficulty concentrating. These symptoms can be caused by the stress of the trauma itself, or by other factors like anxiety or depression. Most of the physical symptoms are a result of the impact trauma has on the central nervous system. If you experience PTSD, you may feel physical symptoms, and this is because, when your mind is panicking, your body often reacts by preparing it for fight or flight.


There is a strong link between trauma and substance abuse.

Coping with trauma can be incredibly difficult, especially if you don’t have access to resources such as therapy or medication. Many people turn to substances, like alcohol or drugs, to numb both the mental and physical pain. Drugs and alcohol can help temporarily relieve the effects of trauma, but in return, these things create an addiction over time that can add to your struggles. If you or someone you know is struggling with trauma and substance abuse, it is important to seek help. There are many resources available to help you heal and recover. You don’t have to suffer alone.


The body has five natural survival defenses.

In school, most of us learn about fight or flight as our body’s way of dealing with experiences that could potentially put us in danger. However, our bodies actually have five different natural survival defenses that can occur in a distressing situation. They are as follows: fight, flight, freeze, submit (also called “fawn”), and attach. As many of us know, the fight and flight defense mechanism is when our body either decides to flee from the situation or fight it. Freeze is when our nervous system makes the decision for our body to simply stop fighting or fleeing, causing one to freeze up. Submit is when the freeze method doesn't work so a person decides to just go along with what is happening to prevent further danger. Finally, attach is when we try to gain empathy from our attacker by attempting to connect with them. Understanding the body’s different natural survival defense mechanisms may give you a better understanding of why you react the way you do during traumatic experiences.


Trembling is normal during a traumatic event

If you have ever experienced a traumatic event, you may have started to tremble in response. This is our bodies natural way of preparing our body for defense. The trembling will subside, and you can make it subside sooner by practicing deep breathing until your body is able to relax again.


There are just a few little-known facts about trauma that can help you better understand what happened and why you reacted the way you did, as well as how to heal moving forward.

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