Violent or abusive experiences can overwhelm a person’s ability to cope and cause trauma. Unresolved trauma can be forgotten over time, but can still cause mysterious emotional and behavioral symptoms. Those with conditions such as drug or alcohol use disorder may find that treatment has not worked for them in the past. Identifying unresolved trauma and treating it along with the co-occurring conditions can help promote healing and foster lasting recovery.
There are many different kinds of events that can lead to trauma and affect the mental and physical health of survivors, their families and their communities. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration cites some of the most common forms of trauma:
- Sexual abuse or assault
- Physical abuse or assault
- Emotional abuse or psychological maltreatment
- Serious accident, illness or medical procedure
- Victim or witness to domestic violence
- Victim or witness to community violence
- Historical trauma
- School violence
- Natural or manmade disasters
- Forced displacement
- War, terrorism or political violence
- Military trauma
- Victim or witness to extreme personal or interpersonal violence
- Traumatic grief or separation
- System-induced trauma and re-traumatization
Not all forms of trauma are as overt or obvious as the ones above. For example, even a brief nonverbal communication between two people can be traumatic, depending on the meaning that communication held for that person. Subtle trauma is more likely to go unrecognized, so those who have experienced such trauma may not receive the support and understanding they need to process what happened to them.
The Effects Of Trauma On Women
Common symptoms after trauma include sleep problems, nightmares, exaggerated startle response, hypervigilance, avoidance of trauma reminders, and other symptoms. According to the American Psychological Association, post-traumatic stress may occur in conjunction with psychological disorders, such as depression, anxiety and substance use disorders. Women also experience physical symptoms, too, such as gastrointestinal problems, headaches and sexual dysfunction.
Women are twice as likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than men and to experience a longer duration of symptoms, particularly hypersensitivity to stimuli that remind them of the event. Yet women often delay seeking treatment or never receive it at all.
Trauma-informed care can help to identify unresolved trauma in all of its forms, based on the impact it has on the physical and psychosocial functioning of the survivor. In addition to trauma-informed care, some treatment centers have specialized trauma programs, in which a team of trauma experts help patients work through their trauma and underlying or co-occurring conditions using evidenced-based treatment modalities.