What is trauma? As a therapist, when I refer to trauma, I am referring to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Here I am going to discuss what this is comprised of and what the determinations are for this diagnosis.
What is Big T Trauma
A lot of people think of dramatic events that have left an imprint that they cannot forget. Veterans, rape victims, victims of horrific crimes, car accidents, are often what people consider trauma. This is Big T trauma.
What is Little t Trauma
Little t trauma can be cumulative small traumas that over time, present the same symptoms of PTSD. Sometimes a lack of good things can result in PTSD. If there is a lack of love or nurturing, a person can suffer from PTSD as well.
Trauma varies and can be different from person to person and trauma symptoms do not necessarily present in someone with big T or little t trauma. There are twin studies where sets of twins experience the same trauma and their responses are completely different. From person to person, there is no rating system. Individuals process trauma differently.
Your perceptions are yours and they are always valid. This is what we focus on in therapy.
What are Trauma Symptoms?
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, what basically everyone uses in mental health for diagnostics, considers trauma symptoms to include
- Intrusive symptoms. Unexpected memories that come in. Repeated flashbacks. Nightmares. Things that you see that are related to the event.
- Dissociative reactions can be as simple as a flashback or feeling like they are in the event, and but the person is not present. Many patients have no recollection of dissociative episodes.
- Physiological response. A person gets scared, anxious, or are exposed to cues or symbols. These can be internal, emotions or thoughts, or external cues, which can be dates, anniversaries etc.
- Avoidance behaviors. This is where people avoid people, places, or things that remind them of the event. I see betrayed partners that avoid a restaurant, hotel, or a part of town.
- Affective Symptoms. Someone who has trouble remembering details of what happened, someone who self blames, someone who has negative beliefs of the world are also exhibiting symptoms of their trauma. People may distance themselves from things they used to enjoy or become angry and resentful.
When I use the term trauma, it is usually small t trauma. Most of the patients I treat suffer from many small events that have impacted their personal development and their function. If you are experiencing symptoms of trauma, I encourage you to find help and talk. I am accepting new clients, click here.
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