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  • Carlien Serfontein

Trauma (and you)

Trauma is the experience of severe psychological distress following a critical event (Psychology Today, 2020). When we are physically wounded or injured in some way, the natural action to take would be to see a doctor. It is therefore easier to think of trauma as a physical wound, but in stead of referring to a doctor, you would consult a professional that could assist with your emotional wellbeing. Unlike a physical wound however, trauma can sometimes be dormant for years before it starts affecting the individual.


When a traumatic event takes place, there are physiological and psychological consequences. Emotional disturbances like extreme anxiety, anger, sadness, guilt and shame may be present for the individual every day (Psychology Today, 2020). Most importantly, if the trauma is not properly dealt with, every time a similar situation triggers the individual, it will feel like they are reliving the trauma all over again. This will cause long-lasting harm for the individual emotionally and physiologically as their sympathetic nervous system never finds release.


As trauma is such a personal experience, there is no way to specifically identify which events can result in traumatic triggering for an individual. The most common types of traumatic events include: death, accidents, being assaulted or attacked, violence in any form, threat on life, ongoing physical or psychological abuse, bullying to name just a few. It is therefore very important to have no judgement as to what a person experiences as trauma. No matter how soft or small the event may be, it could result in long-lasting changes in emotional


Due to residual trauma, individuals find that they experience ongoing problems with sleep, sometimes physical pain, issues with personal or professional relationships and often a diminished sense of self-worth (Psychology Today, 2020).


Trauma is a very personal journey and will we treated as such. With trauma, there is no set timeline or recipe as each individual reacts and precesses differently. Most individuals experience the effects of trauma in a non-diagnostic way, meaning the symptoms shown are not enough to diagnose a disorder and yet more than nothing. That is why seeing a counsellor for trauma would be so beneficial. Trauma can be subtle, insidious and destructive if is not dealt with professionally.


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