Trauma is a multi-layered experience

Have you experienced a trauma first hand? Witnessed the aftermath a loved one has experienced from one? Or, is your knowledge based on reading or hearing experiences of individuals via newspaper, book, or television?  

It’s not a subject to be taken lightly and it certainly needs more public awareness and understanding. “Trauma is a public health issue.”* 

The gravity of trauma cannot be measured. The experience, feelings, emotions, and aftermath are as individualized as can be. 

Various conditions, events, occurrences can amount to trauma. If the traumatic event involved pain, we know that the pain scale is also subjective. 

“Population-based data from various countries indicate that a majority of adults will experience a traumatic event at some point in their lives.”*

This is grim to think about, but I believe it’s better to know about these things than not. A basic understanding that impacts the masses is paramount to successful outcomes. 

The cause of trauma? Well, it varies. As traumatic events “do not only occur at random, but can be influenced by individual characteristics, peer group relationships, community characteristics, and socio-political factors.”*

Trauma has the ability to be an everlasting struggle in a person’s life.  It can likely be triggered by seeing or hearing something that reminds a person of the event. Undoubtedly it can permeate through an individual’s entire life. It has what they call a domino effect. 

It can impact an individual emotionally, mentally, physically, and in going about their daily life (health, relationships, work, and lifestyle). 

What are some types of initial reactions to trauma? ***


  • Shock
  • Confusion
  • Exhaustion
  • Sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Numbness
  • Blunted affect
  • Agitation
  • Disassociation

My focus in this article is trauma as is relates to individual health.   

“Traumatic stress reactions are normal reactions to abnormal circumstances.”***

This can’t be underscored enough.  Your reaction, fear, confusion, whatever you are feeling is normal.

“Survivors’ immediate reactions in the aftermath of trauma are quite complicated and are affected by:

  • their own experiences,
  • the accessibility of natural supports and healers,
  • their coping and life skills and those of immediate family, and
  • the responses of the larger community in which they live.”***

Physical symptoms can arise as a result of trauma. Choosing the right primary care doctor for you from the starting gates or firing your doctor and pairing with the right one – is vital.

As “primary care may be the first and only door through which individuals seek assistance for trauma-related symptoms.”*** Though, this can be applied to any health condition.

Don’t you want your primary care to identify practical solutions to your health issues or refer you to a specialist or doctor who can? The health team you choose is one of the most important decisions you can make for your health and wellbeing. 

Reported physical symptoms and disorders from traumatic experiences can manifest in***:

  • sleep disturbances
  • gastrointestinal distress
  • cardiovascular symptoms
  • respiratory issues
  • urological signs
  • substance use disorders
  • neurological
  • dermatological
  • musculoskeletal

Branching out particularly on sleep, “Trauma survivors with and without PTSD frequently report a variety of sleep disturbances, consisting of trauma-related nightmares, autonomic hyper-arousal, and excessive movements.”**

There has been a noted correlation between sleep, anxiety, mood and PTSD.

Waking up in a cold sweat, having flashbacks, being afraid to fall asleep – to put it bluntly, trauma continues to terrorize.

Trauma and PTSD co-mingle. 

In my interview with Dr. Debra Kaysen, she explained how multi-faceted PTSD, treatment options, and up to date statistics.

“Individuals seek to understand major upheavals in their lives.  Although a natural way of understanding traumas is by talking with others, many upsetting events cannot easily be discussed.”****

I hope that this piece reminds you about the very realness of trauma and PTSD. Often times as the popular phrase goes, “You never know what someone is going through. Be kind. Always.”





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