Trauma: Explaining The Different Types

Trauma is a psychological reaction to an event or series of events that cause physical, emotional, and/or mental harm. Trauma can have short or long-term consequences, and the severity varies depending on the individual. Trauma can affect everyone differently, according to research. There are several types of trauma to be aware of. Continue reading to find out more about each of them.

What Are the Different Kinds of Trauma?

When we think about psychological trauma, we frequently think of a single occurrence that causes significant injury or pain. Yet, other forms of trauma might occur throughout our lives. Trauma is not confined to physical events; it can also be emotional or psychological in origin. Some common trauma symptoms include:

  • traumatic event flashbacks or intrusive recollections
  • Dreams about the incident
  • Avoidance of people, places, objects, or situations that bring back memories of the incident
  • Numbness or feeling distant from others
  • Concentration issues
  • Irritability
  • Hypervigilance
  • Confusion
  • Exhaustion
  • Agitation
  • Sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Dissociation
  • Chronic pain
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • angry outbursts
  • Depression
  • Abuse of substances
  • Self-harming behaviors
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempt
  • Thinking that the world is a hazardous place where you can’t put your trust in anyone.
  • Feeling unable to experience pleasure

While most people understand the concept of trauma, many are unaware of the various types of trauma. Acute, chronic, or complex trauma can all be classified.

Trauma Quiz

Completing a trauma questionnaire might help you determine whether you need professional treatment.

1. Acute trauma

Acute trauma is a type of psychological trauma that occurs due to a single, extremely stressful event. For example, it may occur following a natural disaster, witnessing a bad car accident, or witnessing violence. If not properly addressed, acute trauma can lead to long-term mental health problems.

Acute trauma examples

A single event threatening your life or safety can cause acute trauma. It can also result from being the victim of violence or witnessing a traumatic event happen to someone else.

This type of trauma can result in acute stress disorder (ASD), a mental health condition that typically appears within three days of a traumatic event and can last up to a month.

2. Chronic trauma

Chronic trauma is a reaction to recurring or ongoing traumatic experiences. In this regard, it differs from acute trauma, which occurs after only one traumatic experience or event.

Chronic trauma examples

Chronic trauma can be caused by any of the following:

  • Physical abuse: Physical abusers frequently use force to control their victims. They may hit, kick, choke, or throw objects at them — the list is endless. Physical abusers frequently threaten their victims and use fear and intimidation to control them.
  • Sexual abuse: Sexual abusers frequently take advantage of people who are weaker than them. They may have power over their victim, making it easier to coerce or force them into sexual acts. Victims of sexual abuse frequently experience flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety disorders, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), even years after the initial event.
  • Emotional abuse: Emotional abusers try to undermine their victims’ self-esteem by constantly putting them down or making them feel bad about themselves.
  • Domestic violence: Domestic violence can result in long-term trauma. It isn’t always physical abuse; mental and emotional torture can be as damaging. Domestic violence attempts to control every aspect of a person’s life. It leaves long-term scars that can be difficult to overcome even years after the abuse has stopped.
  • Poverty: Growing up in poverty can lead to chronic trauma. Children who grow up in poverty are likelier to witness violence, see drug use and lack adequate food and shelter. This can have long-term consequences such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other symptoms.

3. Complex trauma

Complex trauma is a type of stress similar to generational trauma that can occur when someone is exposed to traumatic events on multiple, chronic, or long-term occasions. Both children and adults are susceptible. Complex traumas, such as abandonment trauma, are more common among those who were abused or neglected as children.

Complex trauma can result in long-term physical and mental health issues. Forming and maintaining healthy relationships can be isolating and difficult.

Complex trauma examples

Because of the repeated, ongoing traumatization, complex trauma can be harmful to both mental and physical health. It could be the result of factors such as:

  • Abuse or neglect in childhood
  • Domestic violence
  • Sexual assault
  • Wartime experiences

Pic: Trauma

Common Trauma Causes

Trauma can arise from a variety of sources or experiences. It can happen to anyone at any time and has long-term consequences. The following are some examples of trauma sources:

  • Witnessing or being a victim of violence

Being a witness to or directly involved in a violent act can be traumatic. It could include witnessing or experiencing domestic abuse, sexual assault, child abuse, war combat, or any other graphic and violent activity.

  • Participating in or witnessing a serious accident

A shocking accident can be upsetting and traumatizing, whether you are directly involved or simply witness to it.

  • Abuse 

Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse can all trigger a traumatic response.

  • Assault

Rape or a violent assault can cause a traumatic reaction, whether you were the victim of the attack or someone close to you was.

  • Natural catastrophes

Earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, wildfires, and other natural disasters can be terrifying. They can be traumatic, particularly if they result in death, displacement, or food or shelter insecurity.

  • Death

The death of a loved one, especially if it is sudden or unexpected, can be traumatic for anyone to deal with.

If you or someone you care about has been through any of the traumas discussed here, seeking professional help can be beneficial in learning to cope with the aftermath and healing. Trauma does not have to be experienced alone, and certain coping mechanisms, such as trauma dumping, can cause more harm than good.

Understand How to Cope with Trauma

It is crucial that you comprehend the various types of trauma so that you can understand how they may impact your mental and physical health. Please know that you are not alone if you are dealing with the aftereffects of trauma. Many people have gone through similar experiences and understand what you’re going through, and therapy can help you heal.

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