Is it trauma?

Some people aren’t sure if what they experienced qualifies as trauma. They associate PTSD with combat veterans or assault victims. Yes, war is certainly traumatic. But so is childhood abandonment, neglect, and abuse (physical, emotional, or sexual).  Even medical issues and procedures that occurred in infancy can be traumatic. Trauma can be defined as anything that exceeded your ability to cope. There are "Big T" traumas (like war) and "little t" traumas (like being abandoned by a parent).  Then there's complex developmental trauma, where the abuses are repeated over and over until they seem normal.

Some of the signs of post-traumatic stress include:

  • Overreacting to things that would seem minor to anyone else
  • Flashbacks, where emotions are re-experienced as intensely as they felt when the event occurred
  • Inability to trust
  • Avoiding anything that reminds you of the pain
  • Difficulty feeling your emotions because you buried them for so long
  • Difficulty establishing true connection with people
  • Self-medicating with substances or behaviors
  • Anxiety and fear
  • Depression and hopelessness
  • Insomnia or nightmares

The painful event lives on in our thoughts, feelings, and body sensations.