What Is Trauma?
What comes to mind when you hear the word trauma? Perhaps it’s something catastrophic such as a natural disaster. Often times thoughts of abuse or even death come to mind.
These are definitely traumatic events that occur in our lives. However a traumatic situation can be much more subtle than you realize. Most human beings have experienced something that could be considered traumatic.
Traumatic Events Are Quite Common
Somewhere in your life experience you have most likely experienced something that could be considered a trauma . The loss of a loved one, going through a divorce, losing a pet, an injury or illness in your life.
What your mind and body experiences as traumatic is pretty subjective. Two people can experience a similar event and one person may struggle with the memories of that event, while the other person can easily move on.
As a unique human being you will respond to stressful situations differently than other people. This is what makes trauma a subjective experience.
Trauma is a word that is often misunderstood. Many of us often associate trauma with a horrible, life changing event. While this can be a definition of trauma, it’s important to realize that trauma can be much more common than we realize.
Trauma Affects The Mind and Body
When you experience a stressful event in your life, your brain has a natural way of taking in that experience and processing it. It files away the memories from that experience, and typically you can move on without too much difficulty.
A problem can occur when your brain isn’t able to process these events or memories. Sometimes this natural processing can’t occur for some reason and that memory is basically frozen in your mind and body.
This “frozen memory” is why the symptoms of trauma often occur. Your brain wants to process this information but it just can’t seem to happen.
The symptoms from trauma can look different for different people. Anxiety, depression, anger, and addiction can all be symptoms that occur from trauma. For people that experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD these symptoms can be nightmares or flashbacks of the traumatic event.
Trauma Can Be The Root For Mental Health Problems
It’s important to broaden our understanding of trauma because it can often be at the root of many mental health problems.
PTSD can be a very difficult mental health problem. But we can easily overlook the other problems that arise from the negative and traumatic experiences in our lives.
As a Denver counselor I work with many people struggling to control their anger. Often times people tell me stories of abuse, and a family history of angry people. When we begin unraveling some their past life experiences it begins to make sense why these problems are occurring in their lives.
If you are experiencing symptoms of PTSD it can be important to talk with a mental health professional that can help you work through these difficult problems. If you are experiencing other problems such as anxiety, depression, or addiction it can be helpful to consider how your past experiences in life may be contributing to these problems.
Cody Mitts, MA, NCC
Cody is a therapist located in Denver, Colorado that helps people recover from the negative experiences in life. He specializes in problems related to anger, anxiety and dealing with the effects of trauma and abuse.
Ipseity Counseling Clinic
Ipseity Counseling Clinic is dedicated to helping people overcome the painful parts of life. We focus on empowering you to live confidently and with purpose!