What Are the Core Elements of Trauma?

What Are the Core Elements of Trauma?

Receiving a trauma diagnosis can feel either overwhelming or relieving. A person with this condition will need support to process the traumatic event and to avoid developing complications due to unresolved feelings. Mild cases of trauma can heal without the need of much additional help; but, in the cases of severe trauma or a resulting anxiety disorder, the problem could escalate until it impacts everyday life, leads to further complications like addiction or simply makes happiness seem like a far-away goal.

The National Institute of Mental Health states that, despite many people who recover quickly after a traumatic loss or event, others will need additional help to overcome painful situations. The article explains that people with the following problems might need extra attention to recover from a traumatic occurrence:

  • Recurring experiences of the traumatic event through strong memories or dreams
  • A history of past traumatic experiences
  • High anxiety or stress levels
  • An intense loss of control during the trauma
  • An inability to process the event with the support of family and friends

If you survived trauma and experience any of the above issues, then seek help as soon as possible.

What Is Trauma and Why Does it Happen?

Upsetting emotions are a core element among those who are diagnosed with trauma. People could suffer for months or even years from bad memories or feelings of constant danger. For that reason, trauma is often defined as a loss of the sense of security, a state of vulnerability, an overwhelming feeling of helplessness and considerable shock due to an unexpected incident.

However, it is important to note that not everyone will react in the same way after they experience the same or even similar events. For example, the National Institute on Mental Health explains that not everyone who is affected by a negative or dangerous event will experience trauma or develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The publication divides symptoms of PTSD and trauma into the following three groups:

  • Re-experiencing the event through dreams or flashbacks, negative thoughts related to the event, reliving what happened after seeing an object or hearing a sound and etc.
  • Avoidance, which are symptoms of numbness and isolation that often accompany depression. The sufferer can also avoid things that remind him of the event, or he might even block that memory (even though the negative consequences of trauma persist).
  • Hyperarousal, which means she feels constant negative symptoms on a day-to-day basis, even when she is safe. Examples of these symptoms are being tense, easily startled or having problems with daily tasks, such as concentrating or sleeping.

A patient diagnosed with PTSD has these symptoms, so he probably experienced a traumatic event and has severe chronic symptoms as a consequence. However, some individuals might not show these symptoms for weeks or even months after the incident.

Also, someone might experience trauma if an event meets any of the following qualities:

  • Unexpected
  • Happened several times
  • Made the person feel a strong loss of safety
  • Involved a breach of trust

In such cases, the trauma survivor then holds on to the negative feelings generated by the event and keeps them “unprocessed,” which hinders the ability to heal, recover and move on. Recovery from trauma involves reconnecting with safety and one’s self while processing what happened in a safe, non-judgmental environment. To that end, a patient might need the help of a professional therapist or health care professional who will diagnose and prescribe the best treatment according to her specific needs.

Addiction and Trauma – The Dangers of Letting Time Pass

It is easy to understand how addiction and trauma are related. Someone who suffers from negative feelings due to unprocessed trauma and who avoid professional help might resort to addictive substances to cope with his detrimental state. This response to trauma is extremely dangerous for several reasons. First of all, the person who struggles with trauma could develop addiction, which means he will now need Dual Diagnosis treatment to recover from his co-occurring disorders. Also, most psychoactive drugs (such as opioids and benzodiazepines) have side effects that could increase the symptoms of trauma.

Research has found a clear link between past traumatic experiences and substance abuse. The statistics show that the degree of substance abuse closely correlates with the degree of the traumatic event. The best option for someone who suffers from both addiction and trauma is to obtain help from a Dual Diagnosis treatment center. These treatment centers address both conditions at the same time, because, without letting time pass, both illnesses receive attention, so the possibility of a relapse decreases significantly.

How to Find Addiction Help

Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline right now for more information about what to do if you or someone you love is in need of help for addiction and/or trauma. Our admissions coordinators are ready to answer your questions and to help you create a complete plan for recovery.