Trauma can occur after experiencing a dangerous, frightening, or shocking event. While it is natural to feel fear during and immediately after such an event, persistent symptoms of trauma months or even years later may indicate the need for mental health trauma treatment.
Symptoms of Trauma
Symptoms of trauma can vary from person to person, but they typically last for at least one year or more after the traumatic event. These symptoms can significantly impact relationships, work, family life, and other daily activities. Many individuals struggling with untreated trauma also face co-occurring conditions like anxiety disorders, depression, or substance abuse.
Without proper mental health trauma treatment, symptoms of trauma can manifest as hypervigilance. Traumatic events trigger an adrenaline rush, a biological response to danger. Under normal circumstances, adrenaline levels return to normal once the danger has passed. However, without treatment, trauma symptoms can include heightened resting levels of adrenaline, which can have detrimental effects on physical and mental health. It also perpetuates a state of hypervigilance, where one constantly assesses threats in their surroundings, never feeling safe and expecting traumatic events to occur again.
An effective way to understand this is by imagining levels of awareness and danger as a ladder:
- The bottom rung of the ladder represents feeling safe at home, surrounded by family, in your pajamas, watching a movie.
- The next rung is when you hear a noise outside, causing you to look and listen for the source. If it turns out to be something harmless like your neighbors putting out their trash, you return to the bottom rung. However, if you can’t determine the source of the noise, you may remain at the second rung.
- The next level is when you hear additional sounds or screams outside, prompting you to investigate further, possibly with a flashlight or weapon.
- If you encounter someone acting strangely in your driveway, a legitimate danger is present, elevating your alertness. If you can establish that they were involved in a car accident and sought help from the nearest house, you may move back down the ladder towards feeling safe.
- The top level of the ladder is when the person in your driveway does not leave and instead tries to attack you. This triggers the highest level of adrenaline for fighting or fleeing.
In cases of trauma, symptoms can keep your body at higher rungs of the ladder, with elevated adrenaline levels that make it difficult to feel safe and at ease even in your own home.
One common symptom of trauma is experiencing flashbacks. Flashbacks can occur suddenly, often triggered by something in your immediate environment that reminds you of the trauma. These triggers can involve any of the five senses, such as hearing crying or a scream, smelling a particular scent, tasting blood, feeling a touch, or seeing someone resembling the perpetrator. Flashbacks can also happen without any direct trigger, causing physical and mental distress as you feel transported back to the traumatic moment. Symptoms can include shaking, crying, hyperventilating, panic attacks, sweating, racing thoughts, or ringing in the ears.
Trauma symptoms often affect sleep and appetite, with insomnia and nightmares being common. Individuals struggling with sleep problems or experiencing nightmares may turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate and facilitate sleep. Seeking mental health trauma treatment is crucial in these cases.
Mental Health Trauma Treatment at Water Gap Wellness Center
Water Gap Wellness Center specializes in mental health programs for trauma. Trained counselors lead our trauma therapy, and our mental health treatment and rehab center have on-site psychiatrists available every day of the week. We offer private counseling sessions and group counseling sessions as part of our comprehensive care. With various levels of outpatient care, we can find a program that helps you overcome trauma symptoms and regain control over your life.
Contact us today to learn more about our trauma therapy programs and take the first step toward healing.