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  • Jessica Kennedy

Understanding Trauma

Updated: Sep 7, 2021

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that's triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.*

Acute stress; a person with acute stress disorder (ASD) has severe stress symptoms during the first month after the traumatic event. Often, this involves feeling afraid or on edge, flashbacks or nightmares, difficulty sleeping, or other symptoms.*

To understand trauma in anyone's life first we must understand Big T trauma and little t trauma.

Trauma isn't always a life threatening event, trauma often results from repeated events such as bullying, child abuse, emotional neglect.

What is Big T trauma for one person may feel like little t trauma to another. These experiences are very personal.


How do we respond?


The best response to someone in a Big T or little t trauma is to listen. Let this person feel as though they have been heard. On easy way of doing that is repeating back important things they have said, like this: "What I am hearing is you feel alone and abandoned by those close to you, how difficult it must be to hold those feelings."Allow this person to feel their feelings. It is so important for them to validate their feelings but also have those feelings validated.


If the person begins to talk about suicide, this is the time to seek outside help. Either help this person get a referral to an outpatient therapist or call 911 if you believe this person is at risk of an attempt.


Talking about trauma is not going to make the situation worse. In many cases it will allow a person to voice feelings they may be suppressing.



* https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355967

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/expert-answers/post-traumatic-stress/faq-20057756


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