Trauma is a response to any event which overwhelms the nervous system leaving a person frightened for their safety or the safety of others. Some examples these types of events include natural disasters, car accident, violent attacks, rape or serious illness to name a few. Everyone has a different capacity for dealing with traumatic events.
Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD):
PTSD is characterized by symptoms that may appear days after the event and remain beyond one month. In some cases, PTSD symptoms may not emerge for several months or years. The symptoms can be have a negative impact on many areas of life and can include intrusive and disturbing memories of the event; disturbing dreams of the event; flashback; disturbed or distressing thoughts, feelings or emotions when exposed to reminders of the event; disassociation; and physical reactions when exposed to reminders of the event.
Other symptoms include sleep disturbance, exaggerated startle response, irritability, difficulty with concentration and reckless or self -destructive behavior.
Often those suffering from PTSD will self-medicate to relieve some of the symptoms. New problems such as alcohol abuse, drug abuse, over eating, isolation, shame or self-blame and relationship problems can cause further distress.
Sometimes traumatic events happen throughout a lifetime having a profound effect on development and the way one views themselves and the world. Abandonment, physical or sexual abuse, rejection, neglect, betrayal and exploitation leave their imprint on the developing psyche and set up the victim for further traumatization.
Chronic trauma can actually interfere with physical development and have profound effects on the structure of the brain and the nervous system. Low self- esteem, a sense of shame, detachment from others, problems in relationships, perfectionism, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, personality disorders and drug/alcohol abuse or other compulsive behaviors often occur with Complex Trauma.