Causes and Symptoms of Trauma...And How to Move Forward

Man dealing with traumaMany people have heard the term trauma and know a bit about what it is. However, they’re not always sure of what it associates with or exactly how it is caused. This is a common theme, but understanding trauma can help those coping with the conditions, as well as those who know someone dealing with trauma.

Typically, the term trauma is associated with the longer form, post-traumatic stress disorder. This is the common condition experienced by soldiers who return from war and often relive the memories on a regular basis. However, that is not the only cause of trauma.

There are various other situations that can cause trauma and the symptoms involved. Here are some things you need to know about how trauma is caused, what symptoms to look out for, and ways you can move forward if you are suffering from the conditions associated with trauma.

Accidents as a Cause for Trauma

Everyone knows that accidents can result in physical injuries. These are what most personal injury trials focus on. However, that’s not the only harm that can result from a serious auto, motorcycle, truck, or other type of accident. There’s emotional hardships that can also occur.

Trauma is caused by the experience of an emotional event that often leads to long-term memories that impact how a person lives their life. The event can be damaging in a number of ways, but it typically leads to fear and anxiety in the future when a survivor is put in a similar situation.

During a car accident, the mind works in a different way than it typically does with the emotional reaction taking over and evoking feelings of shock, anxiety, and fear. The memory sensors often misplace some of the facts of the event, leading to flashbacks in the future, many of which are combined with an irrational fear of the consequences of the event, despite nothing really happening.

The result is a traumatic experience and the underlying disorder that can develop after exposure to the specific event. While accidents can be potential causes, any other injury-causing incident may also be a potential cause of trauma.

Symptoms You May Want to Look For

The symptoms typically experienced by accident survivors vary and can be categorized based on the way in which they are affected. For instance, this can include physical symptoms or changes in behavior. Either way, it is important to recognize the various symptoms so you understand when anxiety and fear may be taking over.

Physical Signs

Some of the physical signs associated with trauma include trouble sleeping or low energy. This often results in fatigue, especially when the survivor has trouble with their appetite and eating. One other sign can be referred to as phantom pain, which is an unexplainable sensation typically felt at a location on the body that has been harmed before.

Emotional Signs

Typically, anxiety and fear are the two most common symptoms of trauma, resulting in a panic when the survivor is in a situation similar to the event in which they were harmed. Derealization, or feeling like you’re out of your own body, is also an emotional symptom of the trauma.

Cognitive Signs

Cognitive symptoms often disrupt common actions in a survivor’s life. This can include distractions from regular events such as work or a lack of concentration. Memory problems and troubles with decision making can also be common.

Behavioral Signs

Trauma may also impact the way a person behaves such as how they eat, how they communicate with others and the way they approach certain situations. It can cause mood swings and reactions to various things. Compulsion may also result from the trauma.


Flashbacks are some of the most common occurrences you’ll see when it comes to trauma. Whether triggered by a real-time event or a nightmare, sights, sounds, or smells can recreate the memory in the victim’s mind. This often comes along with the feeling of anxiety and fear common when it comes to trauma.

How to Move Forward

Trauma is not easy to overcome, but that doesn’t mean that it is impossible to do so. There are various treatment options available, but there are also plenty of steps a survivor can take in order to lessen the hold it has on your life. Here are some things you can do to cope with trauma.

Keep a Journal

Similar to when a person is injured and keeps a pain journal, documenting times you feel anxious or scared, as well as the related circumstances could help you identify triggers that cause the feelings or flashbacks. Once you identify the triggers, you can confront them and work to overcome the fear and anxiety.

Speak with Others About Your Situation

Sometimes, it’s best to talk about how your feeling and listen to what others have to say. This is especially true in group therapy sessions in which others have experienced traumatic events and can relate to what you’re feeling. They can give tips on ways to deal with the anxiety and stress.

Find Positive Outlets to Occupy Your Mind

Anxiety and fear are often set off by negative reactions or reminders of the injury-causing incident. To help prevent those feelings, you can avoid negative situations and find outlets that keep your mind focused on positive things. Try new activities not related to the incident with people you know support you.

Remember R.A.I.N.

When someone mentions R.A.I.N. in regards to trauma, it means recognize, allow, investigate, and not let it define you. Make sure you recognize your emotions, allow them to exist, investigate why they are there, and not let them define you. Just because you feel something, it isn’t who you are.

Make a List of Outs

If you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, you need to ensure you have ways to get out of it and avoid triggers. This could include breathing exercises for when you deal with a flashback or avoiding the area in which your accident occurred.

The Serious Nature of Trauma

Far too often, people allow trauma to dictate how they live their lives. They avoid certain places or interactions because of the fear and anxiety that results. One form of treatment could be to face the feelings head on with the realization that there is no consequence this time. There will not be an injury.

Trauma is very serious. It impacts the lives of survivors, as well as those around them. It controls many aspects and forces many to live in fear. Overcoming it can be the most victorious feeling a survivor can have because it allows them to move forward without concern of what will happen. There’s no feeling of fear when you recognize that memories are simply that…they are events that have already happened.

As a survivor, you have already lived through one of life’s most difficult situations. You avoided tragedy. You can overcome anything, including the feelings and conditions associated with trauma. And when you need help, there are a number of resources you can utilize to guide you towards a positive, productive, and anxiety-free future. You just have to take the first steps to healing and allowing yourself to live without fear.


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