Society tends to look down on those who struggle with trauma and disorders that stem from it, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In general, public ideas about mental health disorders, in general, are steeped in misinformation and myths that only serve to make it harder for people to seek help for their troubles. It is vital to understand the facts of trauma, who can be affected by trauma, and how someone can advocate for those struggling with trauma.
What Is Trauma?
Trauma is the emotional result of someone experiencing an event that is shocking, frightening, or confusing. Some examples of events that may cause trauma include:
- Natural Disasters
- Living through or participating in a war
- Experiencing abuse
- Being attacked by a person or animal
- The sudden death of a loved one
- Undergoing invasive medical procedures
Many things can cause trauma, and they are surprisingly more common than one might think. According to the National Center for PTSD, out of 100 average people, about 6 of them will develop PTSD at some stage of their life. Many more live with trauma that do not develop into PTSD.
Trauma is not the same as PTSD. Trauma is the emotional experience someone has from a traumatic event. PTSD is a diagnosable trauma-based disorder that has a consistently negative impact on their life. Some people who experience trauma go on to develop PTSD, but it is not always the case.
People who struggle with trauma often experience one or more known persistent emotions, such as:
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Feelings of anxiety or depression
- Feelings of guilt and self-blame
- Outbursts of anger and shame.
- A feeling of numbness and development of self-destructive behavior
- Feelings of fear and confusion
Sometimes these emotions are intensive enough to cause physical symptoms, which can include:
- Issues with digestion such as lack of appetite and stomach pain
- Headaches and increased feelings of fatigue
- Racing heart and feelings of dread and panic
- Excessive sweating
A Few Common Myths About Trauma
Myth: Only soldiers and people who are abused can experience trauma.
Truth: Anyone from young children to the elderly can experience trauma. Soldiers may be the most well-known and talked about example, but anyone at any time can experience trauma. War and abuse are not the only things that can cause trauma. Several life events that may seem mundane to someone can be deeply traumatizing to someone else.
Myth: Trauma breaks a person beyond repair.
Truth: Just because someone has experienced trauma does not make them a broken person. A person who experienced trauma is still deserving of care and treatment like any other person. For some who struggle with trauma, they may feel like they are broken and can never heal. Undergoing treatment gives these people the tools they need to recover from trauma and live happy and successful lives.
Myth: If you are strong enough, you can just “get over” trauma.
Truth: Healing from trauma takes a lot of time and work to accomplish. Many people do not know how to deal with trauma in healthy ways and require help from psychotherapy to help learn how to do so. Getting help is not a sign of weakness. You would not just ignore a broken leg and hope it heals on its own, the same can be said about the mind. This myth only serves to make people suffer in silence when help is but a phone call away and is perhaps one of the most damaging myths about trauma out there.
Myth: You need to talk about or not talk about trauma to heal.
Truth: There is no singular right way to treat trauma. For some people, talking about their trauma right away can cause them to re-traumatize themselves. For some, never talking about their trauma increases feelings of hopelessness and pain, bottling up these feelings until they explode in a self-destructive way. It is up to each person and their therapist to discover the right way to safely treat and encourage coping skills for that individual.
Myth: A person is traumatized by “that?” Wow, they must be weak or sheltered to be traumatized by [traumatic event].
Truth: Every person is different, and how they handle traumatic events is just as different. Just because one person may have been able to handle an event does not mean that other people have the same ability. On the reverse, a person may be traumatized by something others may see as silly and subsequently judged by it.
How You Can Help
The best way for people to help those who live with trauma is to offer help that contains no judgment. This is a person who needs someone supportive that will listen to their needs and help them, not someone that will make them feel bad for reaching out for help. If an individual knows someone who has experienced a traumatic event, it is important to let them know that they love them and will always be there to help them.
Sometimes such a person may need help that individuals cannot provide them. In this instance, individuals can gently point them in the direction of professional help. If individuals are there to encourage them and provide support, they have a higher chance of receiving professional care in their healing process. Trusted individuals can also advocate for them and help them research the best options available to give them the best care that they deserve.
If someone is passing off a myth as fact, individuals must correct them politely. Misinformation should be stopped before it can spread to other people.
Knowledge is power, and together, individuals can de-stigmatize trauma, and encourage people to reach out for the help they need and deserve.
Trauma can be experienced by anyone at any time. Trauma can make you feel helpless and weak, and sometimes you fear being judged for it. Here at Acera Health in Costa Mesa, California, we understand what trauma is and how best to help you heal from such terrible events.
Here, we offer care where you are never judged for the circumstances of your trauma nor for the symptoms that you experience from it. Everyone’s trauma and mind are different, and we have several kinds of therapies and treatments that can be custom-tailored to your specific needs and goals.
Trauma is no laughing matter, and if you or someone you love is struggling with a traumatic event in the past or present, call (949) 649-2339 today to speak with one of our highly trained professionals. Nobody deserves to deal with trauma alone, and here, you will never have to struggle alone.
Melody is a highly skilled proactive clinical administrator, with more than 17 years of experience serving the community in the behavioral health field.
Her clinical management career started in 2011 as a compliance manager and program director. In 2018, she became an executive as chief clinical officer (CCO). She is a seasoned licensed marriage & family therapist.