It’s important to recognize psychological and emotional trauma in adults, and specifically, HOW that trauma is showing up in different aspects of one’s life.
Since everyone who experiences trauma will all have different coping mechanisms, reactions, and recoveries, the symptoms and signs of trauma in adults isn’t as easy to “diagnose” than something like the flu. Especially because traumatic experiences, alone, can widely differ from person to person.
Traumatic events can be caused by many things, whether that’s a singular event or ongoing experiences.
Examples of said traumatic events can be:
- Experiencing a natural disaster like an earthquake or tornado.
- Being in a car accident.
- Going to war.
- Being shot at in an act of violence.
- Losing a loved one to suicide or illness.
- Going through a breakup or divorce.
- Getting surgery.
- Injuring yourself badly.
- Receiving a life-threatening diagnosis.
- Experiencing sexual assault or domestic violence.
What’s important to note here is that the symptoms and signs of trauma in adults isn’t necessarily related to the “scale” of the traumatic event (ie. how life-changing or intrusive or “bad” it was to someone) — because there’s really no comparison when it comes to trauma.
The symptoms and signs of trauma in adults is much more related to the way in which the person who experienced that trauma copes with it.
To explain it simply, there are people out there who might break an arm while running (typically seen as something not as traumatizing as other things), and then experience debilitating signs of trauma for years after; while there are also people out there who've lost a family member to suicide or lost their life savings in a flood (typically seen as something a little more traumatizing than a broken arm), and have minimal or even zero ways that trauma shows in up their future life.
Because it’s not about the scale of the trauma, it’s about the person experiencing it.
So the signs of trauma in adults will look different even if the adults experienced an identical traumatic event.
To really know if the symptoms and signs that you’re experiencing are directly related to a traumatic experience, we recommend speaking to someone in talk therapy, but here are a few common signs of trauma in adults that might help you start addressing it.
8 Signs Of Trauma In Adults:
1) Intrusive Thoughts
Intrusive thoughts can be scary to many. These are spontaneous and unwanted thoughts, images, or “urges” that are triggered by either external or internal stimuli. It’s common for intrusive thoughts to increase with hormonal changes and with increased stress and anxiety in one’s life, hence why trauma can easily trigger them.
2) Mood Swings
I’m sure we've all had mood swings before when our emotional state quickly goes from one extreme to another but when it comes to mood swings related to trauma in adults, these tend to happen more often as well as be triggered by memories, people, places, and other external or internal stimuli. If you’re experiencing more mood swings than normal, it could be a sign of trauma.
The nightmares brought about by trauma are expressions of your body attempting to work through that traumatic experience. The hormonal changes in your brain as well as your physical body reacting to the trauma can cause intense dreams that typically just make your trauma response worse because you’re now afraid to fall asleep. Experiencing nightmares on a regular basis means your body is in survival mode and the trauma you experienced should be dealt with.
Avoidance behaviors can occur when people are trying to escape difficult thoughts or even distract themselves from certain feelings and situations. If you're noticing that your typical routines are getting difficult due to internal struggles, it might be due to this.
Similar to avoidance, withdrawing from the typical things that once made you happy can absolutely be a sign of trauma. Be aware of how your behavioral routines might be changing after a traumatic event in your life.
6) Anxiety & Depression
We've all had bouts of anxiety and depression is our lives. But when the anxiety and/or depression becomes so severe that they're affecting how we think, feel, and act, then it's time to wonder if your psychological changes are a sign of trauma.
7) Sleep Problems & Overwhelming Fatigue
It's true that signs of trauma can absolutely present themselves physically, especially in your sleep schedule. If you're feeling tired more often or if you're having trouble getting and staying to sleep then it might be time to start addressing these symptoms.
8) Unexplained Pain & Muscle Tension
Unexplained pain and muscle tension in your neck, shoulders, and back is a sure sign of trauma. Read more about it in our blog Is Trauma Stored In The Body? How To Release Your Trauma Stored In Your Body. While some of the above signs of trauma like the cognitive and psychological ones require talk therapy, these physical signs of trauma need a more physical approach to begin healing.
So if you're feeling any of these symptoms:
- Digestive Problems
- Headaches & Migraines
- Chronic Pain
- Brain Fog & Lack Of Ability To Focus
- Chronic Fatigue
- Sleep Issues
- Inability To Lose Weight
- Autoimmune Conditions
- Illnesses Nobody Can Officially Diagnose
Then it might be time to try and treat your trauma with somatic healing techniques.
Our somatic healing programs have helped tens of thousands of people heal their physical signs of trauma in just 5-10 minutes a day for 30 days. And we want that for you, too!!