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What is trauma?

Psychological trauma is an emotional response to a distressing event or events, in which a person may have felt threatened, humiliated, rejected, abandoned, invalidated, unsafe, trapped, ashamed or powerless.


These experiences may impact negatively on emotions, self-worth or relationships and result in unhelpful ways of coping such as avoidance, self-harming or alcohol misuse.


Sometimes a person isn’t aware that these distressing events are the underlying cause or have contributed to their problems.










Types of traumatic experiences 

Below is a list of common traumatic experiences. However, a person can experience psychological trauma in response to a number of distressing events and therefore this is not an exhaustive list. 

  • Physical assault

  • Sexual assualt

  • Experiencing violence, abuse or neglect in childhood or as an adult

  • Bullying 

  • Witnessing violence in the home or community

  • Growing up with a parent with mental health problems, substance misuse or other instability 

  • Experiencing an act of violence such as robbery

  • Involvement in a serious accident

  • Living through a life-threatening natural disaster

  • Loss of a loved one

  • Sustaining personal injury or developing a debilitating health condition

  • Traumatic birth 

  • War 









How trauma can affect you 

There are a number of ways traumatic experiences can impact on mental health, wellbeing and relationships. Here is a list of common difficulties noticed in people who have experienced trauma:

  • Depression

  • Anger

  • Severe anxiety

  • Isolation and loneliness 

  • Flashbacks 

  • Nightmares 

  • Avoidance 

  • Irritability 

  • Low self worth 

  • Feeling numb 

  • Hypervigilant 

  • Alcohol or drug use 

  • Self-harming or suicidal thoughts 

Individuals that have experienced traumatic events may have reached out to mental health services and received a diagnosis. This could be a diagnosis of depression, anxiety, mood disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), complex PTSD or personality disorder. Regardless of your diagnosis, understanding and learning ways to manage difficulties associated with trauma can improve your mental health and wellbeing. 

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