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A trauma arises after a severe event. Memories keep intruding, and you suffer from anxious thoughts and flashbacks to the specific moment. Find more information about when you have a trauma, the possible causes, and what you can do if you have a trauma.

What Is Trauma?

Trauma is psychological damage resulting from a severe, traumatic event. In short, that is the meaning of trauma. Everyone experiences something overwhelming at times. But sometimes, an event can leave such a deep impression on you that you become traumatized by it.

The shocking moment keeps recurring in your thoughts as a flashback, causing you to feel anxious. You may also suffer from nightmares related to this event. Some people startle more easily than usual or avoid certain situations.

There are two types of trauma: a single trauma and a multiple or complex trauma.

⮕ Read more about the different types of trauma and associated symptoms.


Trauma & Stress

Post-traumatic stress is the result of a trauma. When you cannot properly process an event from your life, it leads to a psychological injury. This injury causes stress. If a trauma is not properly processed, it can result in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


What Causes Trauma?

A trauma is the result of a distressing event. Examples include:

  • A life-threatening situation
  • Becoming seriously ill
  • Experiencing sexual abuse or physical abuse
  • Loss of a loved one


Early signals of trauma

There are various symptoms that can occur after a traumatic event. If you recognize yourself in the following characteristics, you might be experiencing trauma:

  • You experience stress and have anxious thoughts.
  • You repeatedly relive the event in your mind. This can happen during the day as an intrusive memory, but also at night in the form of a nightmare.
  • You avoid things related to the negative event, such as a place, certain people, or objects.
  • You suffer from negative thoughts and a low mood.
  • It’s as if your body is continuously in a state of alertness, ready for danger that usually no longer exists.
  • You are afraid of the fear itself, worried that you will experience these feelings of fear again.
  • You have difficulty concentrating.
  • You may suffer from dizziness.
  • Additionally, sleep problems or outbursts of anger can occur.

Note that the symptoms of trauma are not the same for everyone. Each person reacts differently.

⮕ Read more detailed information about the symptoms of different types of trauma.


Risks involved

The symptoms that arise as a result of trauma can greatly impact your life.

  • You no longer feel like yourself.
  • You change because you interact with others differently.
  • You have less control over your behavior.
  • You feel extra sensitive and vulnerable.
  • You often isolate yourself from others.
  • You may perform poorly at work or during studies.

In addition, trauma also brings mental health risks:

These symptoms can also make you more vulnerable to physical health risks, such as the flu.


What Can You Do to Help Yourself Process Trauma?

There are various things you can do to help yourself process trauma:

  • Talk it through
    Find someone close to you who you can trust. Talking helps you to organize your thoughts and it can be a huge relief.
  • Write it down
    Do you find it hard to talk about your feelings? Maybe you’re the kind of person who prefers to write things down? That’s fine too. This also really helps.
  • Allow yourself to relax
    Relaxation gives your mind and body the chance to recover.
  • Make space for sadness and unpleasant memories
    You’re allowed to feel this way. It’s okay to have a good cry sometimes.
  • Make sure you’re getting enough exercise
    Exercise and sport help to clear your head.

Do you feel like you can’t process your trauma by yourself? Or are you still experiencing symptoms? If you’ve been experiencing symptoms of trauma for over a month since the traumatic event, then there’s an increased likelihood that you’re suffering with long-term post-traumatic stress. This means it’s wise to seek help. Learn more about treatments for trauma.


More info & help

Do you need help or a listening ear? A psychologist can help. Read more about the treatment of trauma.

The first step in dealing with a trauma is to share what happened with someone you trust.
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