The American Psychological Association (APA) defines trauma as a “an emotional response” to a terrible event like an accident, rape or natural disaster. You may have directly experienced a terrible event, learned about a terrible event happening to a close friend/ family member, or had a frightening experience in which there was actual or threatened death, injury, or violence.
Additional Examples of Terrible Events Include (but are not limited to):
• Physical & sexual assault
• School, workplace, & community violence
• Abuse, bullying & violence within relationships
• Death, homicide, & suicide
• Serious injuries, major surgeries, or life-threatening illnesses
• Acts of war, terrorism, or political violence
Trauma can overwhelm the body’s response to where the fight-flight-freeze kicks into gear. This is the body’s natural protective response that has prepared us for survival. It an automatic response that takes place in the body, directly impacting physiological responses when there is exposure to a trauma-triggering event.
Emotional reactions to trauma can include fear, anger, feelings of helplessness, and numbing of emotions. Anxiety and sadness are sadness common, along with guilt and shame.
These responses can impact sleep, thought processes, memory, and concentration. Nightmares, intrusive/ distressing thoughts, and dissociative symptoms may be present. You may feel alone, struggle with relationships, and/ or may have thoughts about hurting yourself or others. You may find yourself turning to unhelpful strategies to cope such as substance use and risky or reckless behaviors. If you are currently experiencing a mental health crisis, please reach out.
Mental Health Crisis Services:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
Text: MN to 741741
Metro Area Mental Health Crisis Response
Ramsey: adults – 651-266-7900, children – 651-774-7000
Hennepin: adults – 612-596-1223, children – 612-348-2233
There are a variety of options available to help treat trauma with typically includes a “talk” therapy, medication, or a combination of both. Therapy for trauma typically focuses on safety and stabilization and developing coping skills before processing the trauma. Many common modalities of treatment include psychoeducation, cognitive-behavioral strategies for cognitive processing of one’s trauma story, exposure for avoidance, and body-centered techniques.
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