Trauma and its Effects

The effects of being traumatized are very individual, and people who have experienced trauma are impacted physically, emotionally, behaviorally, cognitively, spiritually, neurobiologically and relationally.

Trauma can result in:

  • changes to the brain
  • compromised immune systems
  • increased physical and mental stress
  • decreased trust
  • attachment difficulties and conflictual relationships
  • hyper arousal and hyper-vigilance
  • rigid or chaotic behavior

The effects of trauma can be experienced across the lifespan.  Click here for a list of the Fight / Freeze / Flight responses to trauma.

For additional information about the effects of trauma, click on the tabs below:

  • difficulty feeling love, trust in relationships
  • decreased interest in sexual activity
  • emotional distancing from others
  • relationships may be characterized by anger and mistrust
  • unable to maintain relationships
  • parenting difficulties
shutterstock_83549866An overproduction of stress hormones that when activated do not return to normal but can endure for hours or days as identified below:
  • Jittery, trembling
  • Exaggerated startle response
  • Alarm system in the brain remains "on"; creating difficulty in reading faces and social cues; misinterpreting other people's behaviour or events as threatening, sleep difficulty and the need to avoid situations that are perceived to be frightening
  • part of the brain systems change by becoming smaller or bigger than they are supposed to be
  • Fight, flight, freeze response (which may look different from person to person)
  • Responses are involuntary
Click here to view the Trauma and the Brain Flow Chart.
  • feeling that life has little purpose and meaning
  • questioning the presence of a power greater than ourselves
  • questioning one’s purpose
  • questioning "who am I", "where am I going", "do I really matter"
  • thoughts of being evil, especially when abuse is perpetrated by Clergy
  • feeling disconnected from the world around us
  • feeling that as well as the individual, the whole race or culture is bad
  • memory lapses, especially about the trauma
  • loss of time
  • being flooded and overwhelmed with recollections of the trauma
  • difficulty making decisions
  • decreased ability to concentrate
  • feeling distracted
  • withdrawal from normal routine
  • thoughts of suicide
  • self-harm such as cutting
  • substance abuse
  • alcohol abuse
  • gambling
  • self-destructive behaviours
  • isolation
  • choosing friends that may be unhealthy
  • suicidal behaviour
  • depression
  • feelings of despair and hopelessness and helplessness
  • guild
  • shame
  • self-blame
  • self hatred
  • feeling damaged
  • feeling like a "bad" person
  • anxiety
  • extreme vulnerability
  • panic attacks
  • fearfulness
  • compulsive and obsessive behaviours
  • feeling out of control
  • irritability, anger and resentment
  • emotional numbness
  • frightening thoughts
  • difficulties in relationships
  • Alcoholism and alcohol abuse
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Depression
  • Fetal death
  • Health-related quality of life
  • Illicit drug use
  • Ischemic heart disease (IHD)
  • Liver disease
  • Risk for intimate partner violence
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
  • Smoking
  • Suicide attempts
  • Unintended pregnancies
  • Early initiation of smoking
  • Early initiation of sexual activity
  • Adolescent pregnancy

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