5 Little Known Facts About Psychological Trauma

April 20, 2020

Witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event can affect your mental health. If untreated, psychological trauma can cause your whole life to be a mess. Many people go through emotional trauma in their life. It is estimated that over half of the American population will experience something traumatic at least once in their life.

Emotional or psychological trauma is described as an injury or damage to your psyche after experiencing an exceedingly distressing or frightening event. These events could be something that happened once or an ongoing event like domestic violence.

What are the Symptoms of Trauma?

After a traumatic event, you may experience strong emotional or physical reactions. Most people will notice that these feelings are vanishing after a few days or even weeks. However, this does not happen to everyone. Some people experience terrible and longer-lasting negative emotions.

The common symptoms are:


  • Social withdrawal
  • Avoiding the activities that remind you of the event
  • Losing interest in things you liked doing


  • Nightmares
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Mood swings
  • Concentration problems
  • Loss of memory


  • Easily Startled
  • Insomnia
  • Edginess
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Fatigue and exhaustion


  • Shame
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Fear
  • Emotional numbing

Having seen some of the common symptoms of psychological trauma, let’s look at some of the little known facts.

1. Experiencing Physical Pain Is a Common Response to Emotional Trauma

When it comes to emotional trauma, most people only focus on how your mental health is affected. But, physical pain can be accompanied by emotional trauma. This happens because the natural response of trauma has to pass through your nervous system.

When your brain gets the information that you are in danger, it gets your body ready for defense. The nervous system halts non-essential functions such as digestion to channel resources to respond to what the body perceives as threats.

Then energy gets stuck and causes a series of problems, including chronic pain.

2. “Freezing” During Trauma

“Freezing” is one of the survival responses that your body releases during a traumatic event. What happens is that your nervous system responds through your limbic system. The limbic system includes areas of your brain like the hippocampus, amygdala, and hypothalamus, which control your emotions and memory.

The hypothalamus sends an alert to the rest of the body, which freezes the body. For many people, you might think that your body failed to respond. But, the nervous system made a judgment call to save your life through freezing.

3. There are Five Survival Defenses

You might know of the common fight or flight responses of the body during danger or trauma. But, there are three more: freeze, attach and submit survival defenses.

When the fight, flight, or freeze options do not work for you, the submit option becomes available. The nervous system causes the defense system to tell you or the body to comply with the traumatic event to stop you from getting hurt further.

At times, the attach option becomes available where your defense system taps onto the innate urge for you to connect with other humans.

4. Trembling During a Traumatic Event

It is healthy to shake during a traumatic event because this is the time when the stuck energy gets released. The muscles tremble to get you ready for action.

5. The “Big T” and “Little t” Traumas

Traumas indeed come in all forms. However, to make work easier, these traumas can fall either in the “Big T” and “little t” category.

Traumas that fall into the “Big T” category are significant events like car accidents, natural disasters, sexual assault, or war. In other words, these are life-threatening events, and you might have little or no control over the circumstance. The effects after the events are typically life-altering and have lasting mental effects.

On the other hand, “little t” traumas include events that aren’t life-threatening but are challenging to deal with and are distressing. These traumas can be anything like abrupt relocations, conflict with loved ones, divorces adoption, etc.

Even though “little t” traumas aren’t life-threatening, they can cause significant mental health problems. This happens when you experience these traumas successively, and they add up. Over time, they have a massive impact on your psyche.

Irrespective of the type of trauma you are facing, you should know that your experiences and feelings are valid. If you are experiencing the symptoms of psychological trauma, you must seek help. Contact Memorial Heights ER, where we are capable of helping you get the help you need.

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