What Are The Different Types of Trauma?

What Are The Different Types of Trauma?

Trauma is something the majority of Americans (including adults and children) have in common. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about 50% of adults in America have experienced or will experience some level of trauma during their lifetime. 

Extreme cases of trauma are labeled Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD occurs more frequently in women than me and only a small percentage of those experiencing trauma will experience it.

Examples of Trauma 

Trauma can be caused by an event or series of events that have lasting mental, physical, or emotional effects on adults or children. Events in which people feel their life is in danger, or that cause highly emotional or painful reactions, can be labeled as traumatic ones. 

There are many different types of trauma that one can experience. Some examples of trauma include, but are not limited to:

  • Childhood trauma (bullying/cyberbullying, separation from a caregiver, chaotic household, etc.)
  • Sexual assault
  • Verbal, mental, or emotional abuse
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Death or illness of a friend or loved one
  • Community violence (public shootings, terrorist acts, etc)
  • Medical trauma (physical, emotional, or psychological responses to pain, injury, or treatments, etc.)
  • Natural disasters (hurricanes, floods, tornados, etc.)

It is important to note that someone can experience trauma even if the event does not happen directly to them. 

Secondhand Trauma

When an individual experiences emotional, physical, or mental duress when hearing about the traumatic events of others, this is known as secondhand traumatic stress. It is trauma resulting from indirect experiences. 

Signs and symptoms of secondhand trauma include:

  • Substance abuse
  • Extreme fatigue/exhaustion
  • Lack of empathy
  • Low morale
  • Poor performance in job tasks and responsibilities
  • Withdrawal from family and friends

This type of stress is not uncommon among first responders, caregivers, therapists, medical professionals, teachers, counselors, and others. Children can also suffer from secondhand trauma.

How to Deal With Trauma

Experiencing traumatic stress is a normal reaction to an upsetting or unsettling event. Some individuals may be able to cope with trauma on their own. Things you can do to help you manage trauma without medical or professional help include:

  • Be or become active: Exercise at the gym, go for a walk, play with your pets.
  • Ask for support: Maintain contact with your support system of family and friends and ask them for extra support.
  • Prioritize self-care: Take time to do things for yourself that promote mental, physical, and emotional well-being.
  • Be patient: Healing from trauma does not happen overnight. Be patient and give yourself the time you need to heal properly.

There is no timeline to heal from trauma. However, if trauma is negatively impacting your daily life, or is causing disruption within your circle of friends and family, you may need to seek professional help. 

When to Seek Professional Help 

Professional assistance may be important to help you process trauma if your symptoms do not begin to improve after an extended period of time. 

Here are some signs that you need to seek medical or professional help:

  • If you’re self-medicating to feel better or to numb feelings
  • If you experience increased isolation and withdrawal from your support system and/or daily routines
  • If you’re suffering from severe depression, anxiety, or fear
  • If you have continued trouble focusing at work or home

Traumatic stress is one of the leading causes of substance abuse. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse, seek professional help as soon as possible.