BlogWhat is trauma?

What is trauma?

By the Options Wellbeing Team


When we go through stressful or distressing events, we might refer back to these as traumatic times. These events can happen at any time, at any age, and to anyone and can cause long-lasting issues.

What is a traumatic event?

Trauma and what is traumatic is very personal to each person. Two people might experience the same event, but they might be affected by it differently.

Events that can lead to trauma, could be frightening, humiliating, isolating and leave you feeling scared, threatened, invalidated, abandoned, unsupported, or powerless.

Ways trauma can happen include you being harmed directly or witnessing someone else being harmed, one-off or ongoing events, or living in a traumatic atmosphere.

Effects of trauma

Our bodies have an automatic response to feeling stressed or threatened. We produce cortisol and adrenaline, and we have no control over this.
When the body does this, we go into ‘fight, flight or freeze’ mode. We may feel paralysed or unable to move, we may fight and protest, we may hide or move away, or we might do what we’re told without protest.

Stress signals can continue long after the trauma or traumatic event is over, affecting our mind and body as well as how we think, feel and behave.

Trauma and mental health

Trauma can make people more vulnerable to developing mental health issues. It can also cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Some common effects of trauma can include flashbacks, where you might relive aspects of the traumatic event, panic attacks, which is a type of fear response or dissociation, which is the mind’s way of coping with overwhelming stress by causing you to feel numb, spaced out or detached from your body. You might also feel anxious, suffer from sleep problems or low self-esteem.

To try and cope with these emotions, many people will turn to alcohol, drugs, or self-harm to try and cope.

How we can help

If you’re suffering from the effects of trauma or a traumatic event, we can help with our range of counselling and wellbeing services. From anxiety, stress and depression to trauma, bereavement, relationships and life changing events, we’re here for you. For more info, please click here.

We offer a free, initial 20-minute introductory call where one of our trained counsellors can work with you to figure out the best way to support you.