What Exactly is Trauma and Can I Mentally Recover?

 

The very definition of trauma is a psychological, emotional and behavioral response to a terrible event.

 

Examples of traumatic experiences that can result in a trauma reaction:

  • Accidents

  • Grief and loss

  • Invasive and/or recurring medical procedures

  • Severe bodily injury

  • Experiencing or witnessing violence (one time or many times)

  • Adverse childhood experiences (ACE’s)

 

Typically there is an immediate response to a scary situation which is often characterized by shock and possibly denial. This immediate response is commonly known as an acute stress reaction. For some people, the acute reaction lingers for days or weeks.

 

When the impact of trauma becomes long-term - meaning it is ongoing for months or possibly years - this is known as a chronic condition. An example of a chronic condition and mental health diagnosis is post-traumatic stress disorder.

 

Experiencing long-lasting, chronic, effects of a traumatic experience has implications for significant psychological, emotional and physical health problems.

 

Childhood abuse and neglect is a traumatic event with the potential for chronic effects. Over the years, professionals have come to understand exactly how adverse childhood experiences, commonly called ACE’s, can result in chronic problems in adulthood. In the past 15-20 years, research has gained a better understanding of how ACE's impact the lives of adults in all areas like physical health to relationships to parenting.

 

Examples of adverse childhood experiences (ACE's): 

  • physical abuse 

  • sexual abuse 

  • neglect 

  • being exposed to domestic violence and violence in the community

  • having a parent/caregiver who used drugs or alcohol 

  • living with a parent/caregiver with poorly treated mental health issues 

  • having a parent in jail or prison

 

​Experiencing four or more ACE's puts you at greater risk of experiencing challenges with relationships, mental health concerns, and physical health problems as an adult. 

 

If you are experiencing a chronic response to a traumatic event, understanding how to reduce the distress is possible with support of a therapist.

 

Dr. Erika

Smooth Rock Psychological Services, LLC

Smoothrockpsychological.com

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