Trauma is an emotional or psychological response that occurs when a person experiences something deeply distressing or disturbing. We usually associate trauma with a "big" event, such as a frightening accident, death of a child, or an assault. But trauma can also result from undergoing a childhood medical procedure, enduring bullying at school, or facing a hostile work environment. These (and other situations) can be as traumatizing as a head-on collision.
When you experience trauma, you carry the memory of that event into the present. It can affect family life and other relationships, work, sleep, and the ability to enjoy life.
Symptoms of Unresolved Trauma
- Recurring and distressing memories of the event. In young children, you may notice repetitive play where they act out aspects of the trauma.
- Recurring, upsetting dreams of the event. Children may have frightening dreams without recognizable content.
- Flashbacks or hallucinations
- Physical, mental, or emotional distress when something triggers a memory of the traumatic event
- Doing all you can to avoid thinking or talking about the trauma
- Doing all you can to avoid activities, places, or people that stir up memories of the trauma
- Trouble remembering an important aspect of the trauma
- Loss of interest in meaningful activities
- Guilt or shame
- Sadness and hopelessness
- Trouble concentrating
- Overreaction to noises and movements
Good News for You
Past trauma does not have to cause ongoing distress. I use a highly effective tool called EMDR, which works to place the past in the past--where it belongs--and allows you to live in the now. Patients report that the traumatic memories become distant, and the related emotions grow less troubling, allowing them to move forward and heal from the trauma.