Effects of Trauma


Sarah Jongejan, Journalist

Trauma is the emotional and mental response to a terrible event that could lead to emotional, physical, spiritual, or psychological harm. Any incident could lead to serious mental health issues that can affect someone’s daily life.

There are many different events that could cause trauma, such as being a victim of sexual or physical assault, witnessing a shooting or a murder, wars, natural disasters, a sudden death, terrorism, survivors’ guilt, and many more. These incidents can occur at any time, which makes it uncommon for a person to not experience any form of a traumatic event in their life. A survey that was conducted in 24 countries showed that over 70% of the people who responded had experienced trauma in their lifetime. In the United States, over 87% of the population responded that they have experienced a traumatic event.

The brain has its own way of reacting during and after a traumatic event. To keep a sense of danger, the brain relies on negative memories from the past, which can be useful in different situations. When experiencing trauma, the brain activates its sympathetic nervous system and the part of the brain that processes emotions. It releases stress hormones and activates the “fight or flight” response to help the brain survive this traumatic event. During the traumatic event, this reaction is important to survival, but as the event moves on, the brain could trap the brain in a “survival mode” which could interfere with its way of healing.

Experiencing trauma can affect the brain, causing mental health issues, and other mental responses. People who have trauma often have anxiety, depression, nightmares, panic attacks, memory issues, poor concentration, insomnia, and anger. After experiencing a traumatic event, people sometimes resort to using drugs or alcohol as their escape. Of course, there are many other effects of a traumatic event.

PTSD is one of the many mental health issues that can be a result of a traumatic experience. It stands for post-traumatic stress disorder, and its main symptoms are re-living the traumatic event, avoiding anything that could be a reminder of that event, and having trouble concentrating and sleeping. According to the National Center for PTSD, 8/100 people will experience PTSD in their life. People with PTSD can often feel a higher sense of danger because their “fight or flight” response has changed due to what caused their PTSD. The National Center for PTSD also states that 15% of Vietnam War veterans have post-traumatic stress disorder.

Traumatic events cause the brain to activate its “fight or flight” mode to help with survival but can end up causing mental health issues and different ways of responding to the trauma. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a commonly known mental disorder that can be a reaction to a traumatic event. Trauma can affect the brain and its way of responding in life.


SOURCES USED: https://www.apa.org/topics/trauma#:~:text=Trauma%20is%20an%20emotional%20response,symptoms%20like%20headaches%20or%20nausea