Trauma Symptoms

Trauma Symptoms, Sexual, Betrayal, Acute, Complex, Emotional & Psychological Traumas

Head trauma symptoms 

Head trauma refers to any damage to the scalp, skull or brain caused by injury. Head injury may be classified in various different ways according to the type of injury, which structures in the head are damaged or how severe the trauma is.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a sudden injury that causes damage to the brain. It may happen when there is a blow, bump, or jolt to the head. This is a closed head injury. A TBI can also happen when an object penetrates the skull. This is a penetrating injury.

Symptoms of a TBI can be mild, moderate, or severe. Concussions are a type of mild TBI. The effects of a concussion can sometimes be serious, but most people completely recover in time. More severe TBI can lead to serious physical and psychological symptoms, coma, and even death.

Trauma Symptoms
“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.”

What are the head trauma symptoms?

The symptoms of TBI depend on the type of injury and how serious the brain damage is.

The symptoms of mild TBI can include:

  • A brief loss of consciousness in some cases. However, many people with mild TBI remain conscious after the injury.
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision or tired eyes
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Fatigue or lethargy
  • A change in sleep patterns
  • Behavioral or mood changes
  • Trouble with memory, concentration, attention, or thinking

If you have a moderate or severe TBI, you may have those same symptoms. You may also have other symptoms such as:

  • A headache that gets worse or does not go away
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Not being able to wake up from sleep
  • Larger than normal pupil (dark center) of one or both eyes. This is called dilation of the pupil.
  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness or numbness in the arms and legs
  • Loss of coordination
  • Increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation

Symptoms of childhood trauma in adults 

There are several ways symptoms can show for adults living with childhood trauma. Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut recipe to follow when diagnosing an adult with immediate signs of trauma. However, trauma victims may have some common physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms. Listed below are just a few common warning signs of someone living with trauma.

Emotional Symptoms

  • Anger
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Anxiety
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Depression
  • Panic Attacks

Physical Symptoms

  • Poor Concentration
  • Shakiness
  • Night Terrors
  • Lack of Energy
  • Physical Illness
  • Sleep Disturbances

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Compulsion
  • Eating Disorders
  • Impulsiveness
  • Isolation
  • Numbness or Callousness
  • General disorientation

Keep in mind that these are just a few common symptoms of trauma victims, and often many people can exhibit a number of these symptoms or may even show none at all. If you or someone you know are showing signs of trauma, it is crucial to seek immediate professional help. There are trauma and PTSD treatment centers that can help you.

What is sexual trauma?

The term “sexual assault” refers to a range of behaviors that involve unwanted, coercive, or even forceful sexual contact or conduct. Sexual assault can include rape, attempted rape, and any form of unwanted sexual touching.

Sexual assault occurs with alarming frequency in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) [1], one in three women and one in four men will experience sexual violence that includes unwanted physical contact at some point in their lives. Additionally, survivors of childhood sexual assault have an increased likelihood of being assaulted again in adulthood.

A person who has been sexually assaulted will generally experience high levels of distress immediately afterward. The trauma of being assaulted can leave you feeling scared, angry, guilty, anxious, and sad. The stigma associated with sexual assault may cause some to feel embarrassed or ashamed.

Sexual trauma symptoms 

Survivors of sexual assault can experience severe and chronic symptoms of trauma, such as:

  • Body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Flashbacks
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Nightmares

Their experience might include:

  • Avoidance, such as avoiding thoughts or feelings of the traumatic event (emotional avoidance); staying away from reminders of the trauma such as people, places, objects, or situations; and resisting conversations about what happened
  • Intrusive symptoms, such as repeated, unwanted memories of the event, recurrent nightmares, and flashbacks
  • Increased arousal, such as trouble falling or staying asleep, being easily startled or fearful, trouble concentrating, and hypervigilance to surroundings and potential threats to safety
  • Changes in thoughts and feelings, such as ongoing, distorted beliefs about yourself or others; recurrent feelings of fear, horror, anger, guilt, shame, or hopelessness; loss of interest in once enjoyable activities; feeling detached from others or struggling to maintain close relationships; and difficulty experiencing positive feelings like joy or satisfaction

Betrayal trauma symptoms 

Betrayal trauma was first introduced as a concept by psychologist Jennifer Freyd in 1991. She described it as a specific trauma in key social relationships where the betrayed person needs to maintain a relationship with the betrayer for support or protection.

Betrayal trauma theory suggests harm within attachment relationships, like relationships between a parent and child or between romantic partners, can cause lasting trauma.

People often respond to betrayal by pulling away from the person who betrayed them. But when you depend on someone to meet certain needs, this response might not be feasible.

Similarly, someone who lacks financial or social resources outside of their relationship may fear that acknowledging the betrayal and leaving the relationship could put their safety at risk.

This fear of the potential consequences of acknowledging the betrayal might prompt the betrayed person to bury the trauma. As a result, they may not fully process the betrayal or remember it correctly, especially if it happens in childhood.

The trauma of betrayal can affect physical and mental health, but the specific effects can vary depending on the type of trauma. Keep in mind that not everyone experiences trauma in the same way, either.

The effects of betrayal can show up shortly after the trauma and persist into adulthood.

Key betrayal trauma symptoms include:

  • Trouble recognizing, expressing, or managing emotions
  • Anxiety, depression, and other mental health symptoms
  • Nightmares
  • Physical pain or stomach distress
  • Panic attacks
  • thoughts of suicide
  • Difficulty trusting others
  • Attachment issues
  • Eating disorders
  • Substance abuse
Trauma Symptoms
“We don’t heal in isolation, but in community.”

Complex trauma symptoms 

Complex trauma may be diagnosed in individuals who have repeatedly experienced traumatic events, such as violence, neglect or abuse.

Complex trauma symptoms may include:

  • Feelings of shame or guilt
  • Difficulty controlling your emotions
  • Periods of losing attention and concentration (dissociation)
  • Physical symptoms, such as headaches, dizziness, chest pains and stomach aches
  • Cutting yourself off from friends and family
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Destructive or risky behavior, such as self-harm, alcohol misuse or drug abuse
  • Suicidal thoughts

What is emotional and psychological trauma?

Emotional and psychological trauma results from extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless in a dangerous world. Psychological trauma can leave you struggling with upsetting emotions, memories, and anxiety that won’t go away. It can also leave you feeling numb, disconnected, and unable to trust other people.

Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety, but any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and isolated can result in trauma, even if it doesn’t involve physical harm. It’s not the objective circumstances that determine whether an event is traumatic, but your subjective emotional experience of the event. The more frightened and helpless you feel, the more likely you are to be traumatized.

Symptoms of psychological trauma

We all react to trauma in different ways, experiencing a wide range of physical and emotional reactions. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to think, feel, or respond, so don’t judge your own reactions or those of other people. Your responses are normal reactions to abnormal events.

Emotional & psychological symptoms:

  • Shock, denial, or disbelief
  • Confusion, difficulty concentrating
  • Anger, irritability, mood swings
  • Anxiety and fear
  • Guilt, shame, self-blame
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Feeling sad or hopeless
  • Feeling disconnected or numb

Physical symptoms:

  • Insomnia or nightmares
  • Fatigue
  • Being startled easily
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Edginess and agitation
  • Aches and pains
  • Muscle tension

Risk factors

People of all ages can have post-traumatic stress disorder. However, some factors may make you more likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic event, such as:

  • Experiencing intense or long-lasting trauma
  • Having experienced other trauma earlier in life, such as childhood abuse
  • Having a job that increases your risk of being exposed to traumatic events, such as military personnel and first responders
  • Having other mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression
  • Having problems with substance misuse, such as excess drinking or drug use
  • Lacking a good support system of family and friends
  • Having blood relatives with mental health problems, including anxiety or depression

Kinds of traumatic events

The most common events leading to the development of PTSD include:

  • Combat exposure
  • Childhood physical abuse
  • Sexual violence
  • Physical assault
  • Being threatened with a weapon
  • An accident

Many other traumatic events also can lead to PTSD, such as fire, natural disaster, mugging, robbery, plane crash, torture, kidnapping, life-threatening medical diagnosis, terrorist attack, and other extreme or life-threatening events.

trauma symptoms
Trauma is personal. It does not disappear if it is not validated. When it is ignored or invalidated the silent screams continue internally heard only by the one held captive. When someone enters the pain and hears the screams healing can begin.”

Cognitions and Trauma

The following examples reflect some of the types of cognitive or thought-process changes in response to traumatic stress.

Cognitive errors: Misinterpreting a current situation as dangerous because it resembles, even remotely, a previous trauma (e.g., a client overreacting to an overturned canoe in 8 inches of water, as if she and her paddle companion would drown, due to her previous experience of nearly drowning in a rip current five years earlier) [2].

Excessive or inappropriate guilt: Attempting to make sense cognitively and gain control over a traumatic experience by assuming responsibility or possessing survivor’s guilt, because others who experienced the same trauma did not survive.

Idealization: Demonstrating inaccurate rationalizations, idealizations, or justifications of the perpetrator’s behavior, particularly if the perpetrator is or was a caregiver. Other similar reactions mirror idealization; traumatic bonding is an emotional attachment that develops (in part to secure survival) between perpetrators who engage in interpersonal trauma and their victims, and Stockholm syndrome involves compassion and loyalty toward hostage-takers.

Trauma-induced hallucinations or delusions: Experiencing hallucinations and delusions that, although they are biological in origin, contain cognitions that are congruent with trauma content (e.g., a woman believes that a person stepping onto her bus is her father, who had sexually abused her repeatedly as child because he wore shoes similar to those her father once wore).

Intrusive thoughts and memories: Experiencing, without warning or desire, thoughts and memories associated with the trauma. These intrusive thoughts and memories can easily trigger strong emotional and behavioral reactions as if the trauma was recurring in the present. 

For instance, individuals who inadvertently are retraumatized due to program or clinical practices may have a surge of intrusive thoughts of past trauma, thus making it difficult to discern what is happening now versus what happened then. 

Whenever counseling focuses on trauma, the client will likely experience intrusive thoughts and memories. Therefore, it is essential to develop coping strategies before, as much as possible, and during the delivery of trauma-informed and trauma-specific treatment.

Advice to Counselors: Understanding the Nature of Combat Stress 

Combat stress, also known as battle fatigue, is a common response to the mental and emotional strain that can result from dangerous and traumatic experiences. It is a natural reaction to the wear and tear of the body and mind after extended and demanding operations [3].

Recognizing combat stress and stress symptoms

It can be difficult to detect combat stress because the symptoms include a range of physical, behavioral and emotional signs. However, there are some key symptoms, which include:

  • Irritability and anger outbursts
  • Excessive fear and worry
  • Headaches and fatigue
  • Depression and apathy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Problems sleeping
  • Changes in behavior or personality

Acute stress disorder 

Acute stress disorder is an intense, unpleasant, and dysfunctional reaction beginning shortly after an overwhelming traumatic event and lasting less than a month. If symptoms persist longer than a month, people are diagnosed as having posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

People with acute stress disorder have been exposed to a terrifying event. They may experience it directly or indirectly. For example, direct exposure may involve experiencing a severe injury, violence, or death threat. Indirect exposure may involve witnessing events happening to others or learning of events that occurred to close family members or friends. People mentally re-experience the traumatic event, avoid things that remind them of it, and have increased anxiety.

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, or rape or who have been threatened with death, sexual violence or serious injury [4].

People with PTSD have intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience that last long after the traumatic event has ended. They may relive the event through flashbacks or nightmares; they may feel sadness, fear or anger; and they may feel detached or estranged from other people. People with PTSD may avoid situations or people that remind them of the traumatic event, and they may have strong negative reactions to something as ordinary as a loud noise or an accidental touch.

If you or your loved one suffer from trauma symtoms, professional anxiety disorder treatment can become necessary. To learn more, contact us today at the We Level Up FL Treatment Facility, we provide utmost care with doctors and medical staff available 24/7 for life-changing and lasting recovery. We can help provide an enhanced opportunity to return to a fulfilling and productive life.

trauma symptoms
How To Help Someone With Trauma Symptoms
Sources:

[1] CDC – https://www.cdc.gov/injury/features/sexual-violence/index.html

[2] NCBI – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK207191/

[3] US Department of Deffence – https://www.militaryonesource.mil/health-wellness/wounded-warriors/ptsd-and-traumatic-brain-injury/understanding-and-dealing-with-combat-stress-and-ptsd/

[4] NCBI – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5381967/