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By Katie Bailey, MA, LPC

Usually when we think of trauma, we think of big events, like a sexual assault, mass shooting or plane crash. These events are of course very traumatic; however, seemingly smaller events can also cause a trauma response. Many people minimize their own experience saying to themselves, “It wasn’t THAT bad. Other people have it worse.” While it’s true that some events have greater impact than others, it doesn’t mean that some painful experiences don’t require help healing.

What is a trauma?

A trauma is any event or experience that overwhelms a person’s ability to cope, most often involving a threat to your life or safety. This may or may not include physical harm. How traumatic an experience is really depends on the person’s perspective: the more helpless and scared the person feels, the greater likelihood of a traumatic response.

Traumas can be one-time events like a car accident, a sexual assault, or an attack by a dog. More complex traumas happen from reoccurring stressful situations like living in a home with domestic violence or emotional abuse, bullying, or childhood neglect. Loss can also bring about trauma such as the death of a loved one, a divorce or end of an important relationship, or losing a job.

How Do I Know If I Experienced Trauma?

We all respond differently to stressful events, and everyone’s response is okay. There’s not a right or a wrong way to respond to trauma. Here are some common signs of trauma.

· Feeling anxious or fearful

· Easily startled

· Isolating yourself from others

· Difficulty sleeping

· Feeling hopeless

· Fatigue

· Difficulty concentrating

· Muscle tension

· Agitated or irritable

· Guilt or shame

· Nightmares/flashbacks

How Do I Heal from Trauma?

When recovering from a traumatic experience you need to take care of yourself. Regular exercise and regular sleep are essential. Don’t hide and avoid friends. A big factor in healing from trauma is supportive, healthy relationships – whether or not you talk about the trauma, spend time with people who matter to you. Try mindfulness exercises to help regulate your nervous system; my favorite app to help with mindfulness is Headspace. Write your thoughts out in a journal. Eat regularly and good food to help your body take care of itself.

Don’t numb the pain. Ignoring the trauma feelings only makes your situations worse. Don’t try to feel better with drugs, alcohol, sex, shopping, or over doing anything else not helpful. The only way to feel better is to face the trauma and work through it.

If you have symptoms of trauma that don’t get better, or even get worse, you likely need help from an experienced therapist. If you can’t go to work or do your normal daily activities, have panic attacks, can’t sleep, or can’t keep your relationships, you need to get help from a trauma counselor.

So, if you are telling yourself your stressful experience isn’t really THAT bad, but you are still having trauma reactions, please seek help. You don’t have to keep living trapped in the cycle of fear and pain, you can find freedom.

Trauma Therapy in Montgomery County, PA

At Lime Tree Counseling, our team specializes in trauma recovery. We want to hear your story; everyone’s story matters and needs to be told. At our office, we offer you a safe place to face your trauma and work through it in order to find healing and freedom to move forward with life. Please contact us today to set up a free consultation phone call or your initial appointment. We want to help you live life as you were made to live.