Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of Emotional & Psychological Trauma
Psychological trauma may result when a person experiences or witnesses an incredibly disturbing or scary event. Mental trauma typically impacts one’s ability to cope and function normally. Understanding more about the signs of trauma, how it affects the brain, and how it’s treated can help you or a loved one recognize the problem and begin taking steps toward recovery.
Emotional Trauma Symptoms
Not everyone responds to trauma in exactly the same way, but here are some common signs:
- Cognitive Changes: Intrusive thoughts, nightmares, and flashbacks of the event, confusion, difficulty with memory and concentration, and mood swings
- Altered Behavioral Patterns: Avoiding people and places that remind you of the experience, and withdrawing from family, friends, and activities you once enjoyed
- Psychological Concerns: Anxiety and panic attacks, fear, anger, irritability, obsessions and compulsions, shock and disbelief, emotional numbing and detachment, depression, shame and guilt (especially if the person dealing with the trauma survived while others didn’t)
- Physical Problems: Difficulty falling or staying asleep, becoming easily started, hypervigilance and edginess, rapid heartbeat, unexplained aches and pains, sexual dysfunction, altered eating patterns, muscle tension, and extreme exhaustion
How Does Psychological Trauma Affect the Brain
The advent of digital imaging has enabled clinicians to learn more about how trauma impacts the brain. When the lingering effects of trauma persist, they set the autonomic nervous system off-balance, creating a prolonged “fight or flight” response. The parasympathetic nervous system, in turn, either checks out when it should be active or kicks into high gear when it should be at rest, causing the symptoms listed above. Researchers have compared the brains of trauma survivors to those of the general population. They’ve concluded that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects parts of the brain associated with memory, emotion, thought, sense of self, and conflict resolution. These areas include the hippocampus, amygdala, and the anterior cingulate cortex. Changes in metabolic activity, neurotransmitter levels, and neuron health may contribute to the heightened levels of stress that trauma survivors experience.
Recovering From Emotional Trauma: Beginning The Healing Process
If you or a loved one is dealing with persistent trauma symptoms, there’s good news: Recovery is possible. Medications may be prescribed to alleviate symptoms, while psychotherapy helps patients process painful events and learn appropriate coping strategies.
Lake Behavioral Hospital provides comprehensive treatment for psychological trauma. After patients undergo a thorough evaluation, they may receive inpatient care, partial hospitalization, and/or intensive outpatient counseling.
2615 Washington Street
Waukegan, IL 60085
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Via I-94 to IL-120 E / Belvidere Rd. in Warren Township.
Take the IL – 120 E / Belvidere Rd. exit from I-94 W.
Continue on Belvidere Rd. Drive to Washington St. in Waukegan.
Lake Behavioral Hospital will be on the right, located at previous Vista Medical Center West campus.