Even in today’s world, people in our society are not aware of what exactly is trauma, or examples of trauma and are unable to comprehend the severity of traumatic impact. Also, most people are unable to recognize or distinguish which kind of events are traumatic.
Everyone in their lifetime is bound to experience traumatic events which may vary in intensity. Trauma is the lasting impact that any traumatic experience or event, either physical abuse or mental abuse has on our nervous system. The affected person feels overwhelmed, helpless, and trapped in such situations because they are out of control.
Trauma can lead to PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder). Its duration depends on the type of traumatic experience. In this article, we will be discussing 10 well-known examples of trauma, symptoms that trauma may cause, and types of trauma.
10 Well-Known Examples of Trauma
1. Childhood Trauma
Childhood trauma, if not treated on time, has a great chance to impact adult life. It can be traumatic due to incidences like sexual abuse, child neglect due to workaholic parents, absence of biological parents, disturbed household, domestic violence, parents who’re emotionally or physically abusive to each other, parents with convict history or who’re still doing jail time, and bullying of any form.
These childhood traumatic events may lead to symptoms like short-term or long-term cases of PTSD, adversely affecting the adult life. It leads to a lack of self-confidence, social isolation, and trust issues later on in life.
2. Trauma due to Natural Disasters
Trauma due to natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, wildfires, and more, is among other examples of trauma that can leave a lasting impact on someone’s mind. Victims of floods may develop a fear of water, earthquake victims may become claustrophobic, and victims of wildfire may be afraid to do any work related to fire.
Loss of loved ones, family possessions, shelters multiplies the intensity of grieve. These life-threatening traumatic events added with the above-mentioned losses multiply the traumatic impact which often stays for a long period.
3. Trauma due to Medical Complications
Complicated medical procedures or even simple ones like fear of the dentist can turn into a traumatic experience for some people. Mothers mostly after child-birth get diagnosed with post-natal depression or the person with chronic disease also fell emotional toll because of the long medical procedure.
4. Trauma due to Domestic Violence
We all know physical, sexual, and emotional abuse in any relationship leaves lasting scars on a person’s physical & mental health. The victim lost his/her self-confidence. They feel uncomfortable being touched or in some severe cases don’t want to be touched at all. They have difficulty building a sexual relationship. This traumatic event discourages most victims from forging any kind of intimate relationship.
5. Trauma due to Vehicle Accidents
A person who has been in vehicle mishaps is most likely to avoid self-driving in the future or sometimes forgo riding altogether for some duration. In case of life loss, people close to the deceased person may develop phobia related to riding or driving any transport.
These other examples of trauma may leave a lasting effect but can be treated with the help of a professional therapist.
6. Trauma due to Violent Incidences in the Community
Incidences like race hate crimes, gun violence, terrorist attacks, etc not only affect victims but also people living in that community.
These violent events may create mistrust amongst the community residents, criticism towards a particular group of religion, etc.
7. Trauma due to Witnessing Violent Incidences
People who are not victims of any kind of trauma but who witnessed others may also develop traumatic symptoms. Those kinds of people are mostly are sensitive and the traumatic impact doesn’t last long.
Those incidences can be physical assaults, robberies, terrorist attacks, gun violence, etc.
8. Trauma due to Sudden Death of Loved One
In the events connected to the death of a loved one, people are not prepared for the sudden loss. The reason for life loss can be death by sudden vehicle accidents, suicide, road rage, gun violence, etc.
These examples of trauma leave life long impact on loved ones. Total numbness, overwhelmed emotions are some of the extreme symptoms victims may experience.
9. Trauma due to Sexual Assault
Physical abuses like child sexual abuse, marital rape, other cases of rape, workplace sexual molestation have a huge psychological impact on victims’ mental health. As a result, they become socially awkward, don’t trust easily, avoid establishing sexual relationships, their work progress goes downhill, and their emotions may run high or low.
These examples of trauma mostly leave a lasting effect but can be treated with the help of professional therapists and proper medication.
10. Trauma due to War
Military veterans always face some sort of difficulty after returning from war and sometimes it evolves into long-term or short-term PTSD. They struggle to cope with everyday routine. All the violence they face during wars, leave a very profound impact on these veterans’ life.
Signs & Symptoms of Trauma
- Shame or Guilt
- Problem establishing sexual relationships
- Social isolation
- Crying spell
- Total numbness
- Mood Swings
- Aggressive behavior
- Trust issues
- Low self-esteem
- Sleeping irregularities
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Physical symptoms like excess weight gain, excess weight loss, etc
- Difficulty concentrating on day to day activities
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Excess intake of alcohol or drug use
Types of Trauma
1. Acute Trauma
Under acute trauma, the person went through only one traumatic event in his/her lifetime. Examples of trauma under it can be anyone we mentioned above but it may or may not lead to PTSD, depending upon the severity of the event. Symptoms of the traumatic event can be anyone from mentioned above or it can be entirely different.
2. Chronic Trauma
With chronic trauma, individuals experience more than one type of trauma in their lifetime. It can be one trauma that is ongoing for a prolonged period or it can be multiple trauma.
3. Complex Trauma
Victims experience more than one type of trauma under complex trauma too but they’re interpersonal and are ongoing over a long period. It means the person who is traumatizing is one of your family members. As a result, the victim loses all kinds of security & trust, who else is he/she going to trust when his/her caregiver is hurting them.
Examples of trauma that come under this can be sexual abuse by closed ones or physical and emotional abuse by closed ones.
Symptoms of this trauma can be anything from trust issues, avoiding building an intimate relationship, depression, anxiety, etc.
4. Vicarious Trauma
Trauma victims aren’t the only ones who get affected by trauma but trauma workers also get affected during the recounting of the experiences by victims. It can be anyone from psychotherapists, social workers to humanitarian workers.
The trauma workers can develop symptoms similar to their clients but in lesser intensity. These symptoms can be sadness, mood swings, irritative nature, etc.
Treatments for Trauma
There are some professionally advised & proven therapies that are helpful in the treating above-mentioned various examples of trauma.
1. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)
Since traumatic experience creates certain memories that are very depressing and patient is unable to process them during the occurrence of traumatic events. Until these emotional memories are appropriately processed, a person can’t function at their best and EMDR is all about resolving those unprocessed traumatic experiences.
EMDR psychotherapy consists of 8 phases & focus on 3 stages of trauma for complete processing of information to resolve traumatic memories:
- 1st focus is on the memory of when trauma has occurred and dealing with it.
- 2nd focus is on dealing with the present distress that unprocessed trauma is causing in the person’s day-to-day life.
- The final focus is on developing positive coping strategies to smooth the person’s future life.
Professional therapists use bilateral stimulation such as eye movements, auditory tactile, visual-tactile while asking a patient to go through his/her past traumatic event in his/her mind. This technique allows the subconscious mind to go in somewhat of a hypnotic state that helps relax the conscious mind enough so the patient can go deeper into their subconscious mind and safely bring up the repressed traumatic memories.
It’s been believed that patients become suggestible to dealing with things that are in her/his subconscious mind because in that zone conscious mind is less guarded hence becoming able to bring up unprocessed parts of traumatic memory.
EMDR therapy has evidence of providing a very positive response than any other therapy towards letting go of past distress and enabling patients to lead a fulfilling life.
2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is problem-focused therapy and helps take actions to resolve them. This therapy, led by professionals, is a great help in the less severe forms of anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other mental health disorders.
We all know our thinking and behavior affect our life, actions we take, how we see ourselves. Through CBT, therapists help patients deal with those negative thoughts or behavior by replacing them with positive ones in a particular period.
3. Somatic Therapy
Somatic therapy, like CBT, doesn’t only focus on the mind but it’s also body-centric. Professionals use meditation, dance, breathing exercises, along with talk therapy to resolve physical or mental traumas.
So, trauma is a normal reaction to abnormal events which are out of our control. With the proper professional help and support of our friends and family, we can learn to cope with it better and lead a much happier life. Also, we need to make everyone aware of other various examples of trauma so that they can talk amongst each other and learn to cope with them better.
Content is medically reviewed periodically by professionals for accuracy and relevance. Reviewers include doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, and even medical students.