Trauma – Common Symptoms

When we think of trauma, we usually think of vets having PTSD when a car backfires or waking up in a cold sweat.  But for many people, the signs and symptoms of their trauma are much less dramatic than what we might see on tv.  Remember that so much of trauma literature or education has been about vets, rape and assault victims, etc.  The trauma that’s experienced due to multiple losses, illness, multiple accidents, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse or secondary traumatization that comes with working in fields with traumatized people can be much more subtle.

These symptoms can include:

  • Hypervigilance
  • Intrusive imagery or flashbacks
  • Extreme sensitivity to light or sound
  • Hyperactivity
  • Exaggerated emotional and startled responses
  • Nightmares and night terrors or other difficulties sleeping
  • Reduced ability to deal with stress
  • Abrupt mood swings, rage, temper tantrums, crying
  • Panic attacks
  • Phobias
  • Avoidance behavior
  • Attraction to dangerous situations
  • Amnesia or forgetfulness
  • Loss of sustaining beliefs
  • Excessive shyness
  • Diminished emotional responses
  • Inability to make commitments
  • Chronic fatigue or very low physical energy
  • Immune System Problems
  • Migraines
  • Environmental sensitivies
  • Chronic Pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Asthma
  • Digestive Problems
  • Depression
  • Reduced ability to formulate plans

It should be noted that just because you have some of these symptoms does not mean that you have suffered a trauma.  You could also have another reason for having any of these symptoms — for example, you might have migraines because you have increased pressure in your spinal column from excessive spinal fluid.  This list is a partial list to give you an idea of what symptoms may indicate that there is something wrong and that you should work with a qualified mental health professional to get to the root of the problem.  Seeking help from a social worker, therapist, psychiatrist, primary doctor, etc is appropriate if you are suffering from any of these problems.  Check with your insurance or call your local mental health agency if you are not sure how to find a referral.

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