Trauma is a physiological and psychological response to a deeply upsetting or threatening situation. Traumatic events can be isolated or repeated, ongoing events. A person can also experience trauma after witnessing something traumatic happening to someone else.

A traumatized individual can feel a range of emotions both immediately after the event and in the long term. They may feel overwhelmed, helpless, shocked, or have difficulty processing their experiences.

Emotional & psychological symptoms:

  • Shock, denial, or disbelief
  • Confusion, difficulty concentrating
  • Anger, irritability, mood swings
  • Anxiety and fear
  • Guilt, shame, self-blame
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Feeling sad or hopeless
  • Feeling disconnected or numb

Physical symptoms:

  • Insomnia or nightmares
  • Fatigue
  • Being startled easily
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Edginess and agitation
  • Aches and pains
  • Muscle tension

Trauma symptoms gradually fade away as you process the unsettling event. It’s important to understand that it might take a while to get over the pain and feel safe again. 

Trauma-informed care shifts the focus from “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?”