World Mental Health Day: How Trauma Can Affect Your Mental Health

world mental health day

Anyone can experience trauma. But, of course, no one wants to; no one chooses to. Trauma can ruin a person’s life by bringing a dark cloud over experiences and moments in life that were once enjoyable. Once the dark cloud of trauma comes over people, it can haunt them forever. For some people, trauma can turn into the mental illness of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Suffering from PTSD can then cause people to develop other co-occurring disorders made from mental illnesses and substance use disorders

While trauma does have the ability to negatively affect your mental health and well-being, there are ways that you can prevent this from happening. One of the key ways to treat the effects of trauma and PTSD is to attend mental health treatment.

If you suffer from PTSD and a substance use disorder, you can treat both disorders simultaneously through co-occurring disorders treatment. While completing trauma-related treatment is difficult, it’s worth it once you start to notice the dark cloud that it once had over your life go away.

In honor of World Mental Health Day, we are going to acknowledge all of the people that have to live with trauma every day, and the strength that they possess. We are also going to go over the symptoms of trauma and how to treat it. By talking about trauma and mental health today, we hope to help remove the negative stigma that is associated with mental illness. 

What is Trauma?

Trauma is a terrible event or situation that is threatening or harmful. As a result of a traumatic event, an individual can have a psychological, physiological, or emotional response. Examples of terrible events that can cause trauma are abuse, a natural disaster, or the death of a loved one. 

Not all negative or stressful life experiences cause trauma and not all people experience trauma in the same way. The symptoms of trauma can be physical or emotional. Trauma can also occur over a short period of time or over a long period of time. There are even different types of trauma.

Types of Trauma

Trauma comes in many different forms. Depending on the type of trauma that you are going through, your symptoms might last for a short period of time or for a lifetime. It’s even possible to experience second-hand trauma from others.

Acute Trauma

Acute trauma is a series of negative mental, emotional, or physiological responses that a person gets immediately after a single traumatic event. Many people find it easier to treat acute trauma than other forms of trauma.

Chronic Trauma

Chronic trauma is a series of negative mental, emotional, or physiological responses that a person gets from repeated or prolonged exposure to traumatic events. Examples of chronic trauma include repeated abuse or bullying. 

Complex Trauma

Complex trauma is a series of mental, emotional, or physiological responses that a person experiences due to multiple traumatic events that he or she has gone through. 

Secondary or Vicarious Trauma

Secondary or vicarious trauma is when a person experiences trauma symptoms due to being close to a person that went through a traumatic experience. For example, a sister of a person that experienced a traumatic event can start to experience secondary trauma out of concern for her sibling. 

Symptoms of Trauma

Not all people that go experience trauma have the same symptoms. The number of trauma symptoms that a person experiences can also range. Some people with trauma may just experience one or two trauma symptoms, while others might experience multiple.

Physical Trauma Symptoms

Some of the most common physical symptoms o trauma are:

  • Headaches
  • Digestive issues
  • Heart palpitations
  • Excessive sweating
  • Jumpiness
  • Fatigue

Emotional Trauma Symptoms

People that experience emotional trauma symptoms often feel one of the following emotions:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Sadness
  • Shame
  • Confusion
  • Guilt
  • Hopelessness
  • Numbness
  • Irritability

Psychological Trauma Symptoms

When you experience trauma it affects your mind as much as it does your body or emotions. The psychological symptoms that are often associated with trauma include:

Trauma vs. PTSD

Some research states that 60% – 75% of people in North America will experience a traumatic event in their lifetime. 20% of people that experienced trauma will also develop PTSD in their lifetime. 

While a majority of people in North America experience trauma, even if it’s acute, at some point in their life, not many people know what it’s like to experience full-fledged post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In fact, post-traumatic stress disorder only affects 3.5% of the U.S. population. The percentage of people with PTSD in other countries is even lower. 

PTSD is a more severe, overwhelming, and persistent version of trauma. The traumatic symptoms of PTSD are so severe that they interfere with a person’s ability to function and build relationships in day-to-day life. Some people with PTSD may even try to commit suicide to cope. Once your level of trauma becomes bad enough to turn into PTSD, you must seek out treatment. 

Symptoms of PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder often presents these characteristics: 

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Depression 
  • Severe anxiety
  • Stomachaches
  • Previous trauma
  • Heart palpitations
  • Excessive sweating
  • Physical pain or injury
  • Experiencing flashbacks
  • Experiencing nightmares
  • Persistent memories of traumatic events
  • Avoidance of traumatic events or triggers

PTSD and Trauma

Trauma and PTSD go hand and hand. To learn just how much of an effect certain traumatic events can have on a person’s mental health, here are some statistics on the rates at which different forms of trauma turn into PTSD. According to the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Alliance:

  • 49% of rape victims develop PTSD
  • 15.4% of stabbing or shooting victims develop PTSD
  • Almost 32% of serious physical assault victims develop PTSD
  • 14.3% of people that lose a loved one to death develop PTSD
  • 3.8% of people that experience natural disasters develop PTSD
  • 10.4% of parents of children with life-threatening illnesses develop PTSD
  • 7.3% of people that witness a murder or serious injury experience PTSD
  • 16.8% of people involved in serious accidents like those related to cars or trains develop PTSD

PTSD in Adults

People whose trauma symptoms turn into PTSD go through months and years of their lives constantly worrying that the traumatic experiences that they went through will occur again. Even people who aren’t necessarily worried about their past traumatic experiences occurring again, will experience sudden flashbacks or nightmares that force them to relive their past traumas. 

Adults that work jobs that put their lives or the lives of others at risk tend to experience more PTSD than adults that don’t work life-risking jobs. For example, police officers, nurses, and firefighters tend to experience higher PTSD rates. The adults that experience the highest levels of PTSD are sexual assault survivors, war veterans, and survivors of genocide. 

The severity of an adult’s PTSD is determined by whether it is placed in the mild, moderate, or serious impairment level grouping. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 30.2% of adults suffer from mild PTSD. 33.1% of adults suffer from moderate PTSD and 36.6% of adults suffer from serious post-traumatic stress disorder. 

PTSD in Adolescents 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 5% of adolescents experience PTSD. Out of all the teenagers that experience PTSD, 1.5% of them experience severe post-traumatic stress disorder. Studies show that the percentage of teens with PTSD increases as they go from their early teens to their late teens. For example, 3.7% of teens between the ages of 13-14 experience post-traumatic stress disorder. By the time these teens reach 17-18 years old, the percentage of teens with PTSD jumps to 7%. 

Trauma in Children

PTSD can occur in anyone of any age, including a newborn baby. When children experience trauma at extremely young ages though, it sometimes fades away after a few months or so and then reappears later in life. For some children, trauma experienced at this time won’t turn into post-traumatic stress disorder until their brain further develops. 

PTSD in Women vs. Men 

Like with most mental health disorders, more women suffer from PTSD than men. While more women suffer from PTSD than men, men on average reportedly experience more traumatic events in their lifetime than women. 

PTSD in Veterans

One group of people that experience PTSD at high rates are war veterans. In fact, according to PTSD statistics gathered from the military, approximately 20% of combat veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. On top of all the veterans that experience PTSD due to experiencing war, 71% of female military members develop PTSD due to experiencing sexual assault while serving. 

PTSD and Other Mental Illnesses 

When a person suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, he or she often picks up other mental health disorders. One mental illness that often accompanies PTSD is depression. In fact, according to the National Center of PTSD at the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, people that suffer from PTSD are 3 to 5 times more likely to suffer from depression than those without the disorder. 

Post-traumatic stress disorder in and of itself is a type of anxiety disorder. If PTSD persists and is left untreated, it can even cause someone to think suicidal thoughts, or worse, commit suicide.  

PTSD and Substance Abuse

Many people that suffer from PTSD turn to substances to cope with their disorders. Chronic substance abuse while suffering from PTSD can eventually turn into a co-occurring disorder of PTSD and addiction. Arguably the most common substance that people with PTSD abuse is alcohol. In fact, most people with PTSD will choose to abuse alcohol over drugs like cocaine or heroin

Treatment for Trauma and PTSD

To treat trauma or PTSD, you must attend treatment at a mental health treatment facility. If you suffer from a substance use disorder and PTSD, you must seek out co-occurring disorder treatment at an addiction treatment facility for help. 

According to American Family Physician, people with PTSD that receive treatment shorten the duration of their PTSD symptoms by over 56%. On top of that, most people with PTSD that receive treatment significantly reduce the intensity of their symptoms. 

In fact, one study done by the American Family Physician reports that 46% of people with PTSD improved their condition within just 6 weeks of beginning psychotherapy. Research even shows that as many as 62% of people with PTSD that receive medication for their disorder. 

Daylight Recovery Is Here to Help You Improve Your Life

Why struggle your whole life with trauma, or even worse, PTSD and addiction, when you can receive treatment and live a full life. At Daylight Recovery, we provide a wide variety of addiction and mental health services that can help you. We even provide co-occurring disorders treatment. To learn more about Daylight Recovery and the services that we offer, contact us today.