What is Trauma? Part 1

This week at Imagine Hope we are discussing what trauma is—symptoms, causes, how to address it, and more.  If you’ve ever suffered from the residual effects of a negative experience in your life, make sure to tune in each day for information.

Trauma Defined

Trauma typically begins with an incident—it can be a one-time occurrence or something that lasts for many, many years.  It may have occurred twenty years ago or just yesterday.  The experience often involves a threat to your life and makes you feel unsafe.  Trauma is not just the event itself, but how it made you feel.  The stronger emotional reaction you have, the worse the trauma feels.

Trauma leaves with you a lasting impact that can be difficult to process.  It may cause you to have strong negative emotions, flashbacks, or nightmares.   Trauma may make it difficult to trust others, build relationships, and leave you feeling helpless.

Common Causes

-You felt powerless

-It occurred unexpectedly

-It happened in childhood

-It happened repeatedly

-Someone hurt you

-You couldn’t prepare for it

Trauma can occur in everyday situations.  Often, we think of situations such as witnessing a crime or being the victim of sexual abuse as being reasons for experiencing trauma.  While those are legitimate traumatic events, there are other incidents that can also bring on trauma.  The loss of a loved one, a car accident, a break-up or divorce, surgery, an injury, a natural disaster, loss of a job, a humiliating experience, or even a scary medical diagnosis can cause trauma.

Risk Factors

You are more likely to be traumatized by an incident if you are already under a large amount of stress in your life.  If you have already experienced trauma before in your life, you are more likely to be traumatized again.

Experiencing trauma in your childhood leaves you more vulnerable as an adult.  When trauma in childhood has not been processed, it carries into adulthood.

Children can view anything that makes them feel unsafe or vulnerable as traumatic.  Some examples of situations that cause trauma are abandonment by a loved one, an unsafe or unstable home, illness, physical abuse and/or neglect, sexual abuse, domestic violence or drug use, emotional or verbal abuse, or even bullying.  Once a child experiences trauma, they view the world very differently and lose their sense of security.

Check back this week as we provide more information about trauma.

Written by Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW

Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Christy enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Christy also provides family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling.

Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.