When you consider signs of trauma, what do you think of?
It’s easy to imagine someone curled up in a ball, paralyzed with fear. But that is more of a stereotype than reality.
Yes, the fear response is certainly one trauma symptom and does play a significant role. Yet, there are many signs of trauma that are more subtle and not nearly so obvious.
In fact, you can be struggling with the effects of trauma without even realizing that they are occurring. Or, you might notice something is off, but associate the symptoms with another emotional problem.
That’s an issue because not recognizing the signs of trauma can prolong suffering and cause a delay in care. Often, unresolved trauma isn’t so easy to spot. To help you avoid this, consider some not-so-obvious symptoms.
Pay Attention to These Lesser-known Signs of Trauma
Feeling Overwhelmed Often
People who experience trauma will often experience a sense of overwhelm. They find themselves in a situation that triggers a traumatic memory. That memory quickly dominates their thinking.
If you’re experiencing this, juggling all of the other responsibilities of the day feels impossible at times. Your attention turns to the trauma trigger and the wave of emotions it causes. Externally, others might see you as frequently flustered, chronically anxious, or agitated.
Another lesser-known symptom of trauma is general mood swings. For instance, you might be talking to a friend, having a pleasant conversation. Suddenly, your mood darkens. It feels as if a switch has been flipped. You feel angry or anxious and stressed.
What happened? As with feeling overwhelmed, traumatic memories or sensations can arise without warning. You sense danger and feel upset but the feeling is general and may or may not be linked to past trauma. To others, you may seem frustratingly unstable or unpredictable.
One of the signs of trauma more difficult to notice is numbing to your own emotions. What does this mean? Emotional numbing is a form of self-protection that can look like indifference to those on the outside. Your feelings, thoughts, and emotions associated with trauma are so painful that you actively avoid them. Unfortunately, this symptom is often misunderstood as other people may think that you are “spaced out”, forgetful, or uncaring.
This is called dissociation and leaves you feeling disconnected from the world and isolated. You are actually walling off your emotions from the rest of your mind. That way, you don’t have to re-experience your trauma-related negativity. For instance, it might be difficult to experience joy or happiness, as you are detached from your positive feelings too.
When someone experiences a disturbing situation, even a mild one, they may lack cognitive clarity. For example, trying to make sound decisions regarding your career, relationships, and goals may be impaired. Managing stress may be severely affected. The impact on your self-image may be deeply impacted too. You may allow others to make your choices or feel incapable of directing your own life well.
Also, coping with uncertainty or demonstrating good judgment may be complicated as you experience confusion and feel flustered. That may be off-putting to others who don’t realize that the trauma underlies your behavior.
What to Do about Signs of Trauma
Even though these signs of trauma are less obvious, that doesn’t mean they are any less impactful. When you struggle with trauma symptoms, they can markedly affect the quality of your life. Untreated, unresolved trauma symptoms can lead to other problems. But you don’t have to suffer, the past no longer has to cause distress or fear.
The answer for addressing these issues is often trauma therapy. Using therapeutic techniques such as neurofeedback or EMDR, you can get to the root cause of the trauma and move forward. Let’s resolve trauma symptoms and finally recover from your worst experiences together. Contact me today to learn more about how trauma therapy can provide relief.