Trauma can be described as an emotional reaction to a shocking or terrible event in someone’s life. Examples of events that may cause trauma are endless, but they can range from an accident or incident that could seem innocuous to someone else, to experiences of rape, wars or natural disasters.
Initially, shock and denial are common symptoms, whilst the long term effects can include: flashbacks, unpredictable emotions, difficulties maintaining relationships, as well as physical responses such as headaches, nausea and panic attacks.
As humans, we are extremely complex creatures, with differing reactions to trauma to match. For example: a victim of a severe accident may be relatively unaffected by the experience, while a witness or a first responder may suffer from the effects of trauma. It is impossible to tell how someone will deal with an event, until it actually happens to them.
In the majority of cases the effects of trauma begin to fade away over time. Unfortunately, for some people this is not the case. In these cases their belief systems and basic perceptions are shaken immeasurably, often leaving them feeling disturbed, mistrusting and fearful. The sufferer may deliberately replay events over and over in their mind, hoping to achieve a different outcome through imagining different scenarios.
As with many psychological issues, the treatment needs to begin by getting to the root cause of the problem. The distressing event itself may have actually been compounded by other events or an experience earlier on in the sufferer’s life. Either way, the person needs to understand why they are feeling the way they do, before they can begin the process of recovery.
Normally, trauma treatment is carried out through ‘talk’ therapies. However, if the patient is suffering so severely that they are unable to verbally communicate their true feelings other treatments may be used, such as art therapy. Art therapy can be useful in allowing a patient to reconnect with feelings and emotions that they may have subconsciously chosen to bury or supress.