Trauma can be one or more events or experiences that leave someone with significant negative emotions that impact their mental, emotional, social, physical, and spiritual well-being. The effects of trauma are long-lasting and often have devastating effects on every aspect of a person’s life, from their relationship with themselves and others, to how they function in everyday activities.
Trauma can be difficult to recognize and treat due to some outdated perceptions of what a traumatic event or experience is, and who can or may people struggling with more masked forms of trauma. When people think of traumatic experiences, oftentimes it brings to mind the brutality of war or physical abuse. While these forms of violence are significant factors in the development of trauma, it is important to acknowledge that trauma can also be more subtle. Sometimes it may even involve repeated exposure to traumatic experiences and interactions over time, causing trauma to build up in the mind and body.
Examples of Trauma
Some examples of traumatic experiences include:
Witnessing a violent crime
Loss of a loved one
Put-downs by parents
Verbal and emotional abuse
Sudden loss of a loved one
The breakup of a significant relationship
Disconnecting from unhealthy relationships
A humiliating experience
Deeply disappointing experience
Discrimination and oppression
Who Is Affected by Trauma?
Anyone and everyone can be affected by trauma. Trauma does not discriminate by way of any identifying factors such as age, gender identity, socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. Incidentally, there are groups of people who are at a higher risk of exposure to trauma.
According to the National Council for Behavioral Health, 70% (223.4 million) of adults in the United States have experienced a traumatic event at least once in their life. Moreover, as noted by the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS), children are at high risk for adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), as 62% of U.S. adults reported at least one ACE, and 25% of U.S. adults reported three or more ACEs. In addition, marginalized groups such as people of color, women, and LGBTQ+ are at a higher risk of trauma and other disorders due to discrimination and oppression.
Trauma and Mental Health Disorders
The relationship between trauma and mental health disorders is deeply intertwined. Experiencing trauma has a profound impact on mental, emotional, and physical health as it changes the way someone thinks about themselves, others, and the world. Exposure to physical and/or emotional trauma puts people at a greater risk for mental health disorders. Emotional responses to triggers related to trauma can change the way a person thinks, participates in activities, completes tasks, and interacts with others.
Mental Health Disorders
Some mental health disorders that can develop from trauma include, but are not limited to:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Anxiety disorders
- Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
- Mood disorders
- Acute stress disorder (ASD)
- Eating disorders
Substance Use Disorder and Trauma
Trauma is one of the leading risk factors for the development of substance use disorder (SUD). According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 57, many people use unprescribed substances to self-medicate trauma-related symptoms. For example, experiencing things like abuse, violent crime, or excessive stress can cause feelings of guilt, shame, anxiety, or anger. When those negative feelings loom over every thought and interaction, it can lead people to seek comfort or avoid those negative emotions with substances like alcohol.
In addition, SUD also increases the chances of exposure to traumatic experiences, which creates an unhealthy cycle of trauma and SUD reinforcing one another. As noted in an article from the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS), trauma and co-occurring disorders behave like a Venn diagram in which trauma, mental health conditions, and SUD overlap and interconnect.
Some examples of trauma and co-occurring disorders include:
- Alcohol abuse
- Marijuana abuse
- Cocaine abuse
- Misuse of prescription medication
- Acute stress disorder
- Anxiety disorders
- Panic attacks
- Ruminating thoughts
- Mood disorders
- Disruptive behavior disorders (DBD)
- Chronic health issues
To learn more about SUD treatment at Emerge Recovery TX, visit our Substance Abuse Treatment page.
How Can Recovery Help With Trauma?
Trauma-focused therapy and healing is an important aspect of the journey to recovery and long-term wellness. While the path to recovery looks different for each person, research has shown that seeking support in healing from traumatic experiences can aid in the recovery process, leading to healthier lifelong outcomes in comparison with those who attempt to ignore or self-medicate their symptoms.
At Emerge Recovery TX, we believe in supporting the whole person in body, mind, and spirit. We support clients in trauma recovery and help them emerge as the best version of themselves with healthy principles and coping strategies found in our clinical framework: acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). Through ACT, clients can reconnect with themselves and their loved ones as they build healthier thinking and behavior patterns.
To learn more about trauma recovery at Emerge Recovery TX, visit our Trauma Recovery page.
Trauma can make daily life and relationships difficult to manage, but we can help you heal and build a fulfilling life in long-term recovery as you reconnect with yourself and your loved ones. At Emerge Recovery TX, we believe in supporting the whole person in body, mind, and spirit with ACT to support you in learning and building the skills you need to lead a healthier life in recovery. Call us at (737) 237-9663 to learn more today.