Every day on the news we see images of trauma—storms, earthquakes, war, disease, and famine wreaking havoc on the lives of human beings across the globe. But what we don’t realize is that trauma can and does visit a lot closer to home. The death of a loved one, physical abuse, and social exclusion can all be traumatic. Every human being experiences trauma to one degree or another, but many of us fail to recognize it. Below we explore three different types of trauma and how you may experience it in your life.
Physical trauma is often obvious—we lose a leg or suffer a physical assault, and we immediately know what’s happening and seek help. But physical trauma can also include sexual abuse, spousal abuse, natural disasters and war. Suffering physical trauma can have an impact on your psyche. Maybe you lose your leg in a workplace accident and face the prospect of never walking again. That is trauma. It’s an extraordinary event for which you may not have the resources to cope on our own. That’s why it’s important that you do not ignore the psychological cost of physical trauma and seek the help of a professional even if you don’t immediately feel the effects of trauma. It can often take months, years or even decades for the effects of trauma to manifest.
All traumas have an impact on the mind, but some trauma is caused by psychological assaults. For example, maybe you’re in an abusive relationship where your partner hasn’t physically assaulted you but is emotionally abusive. This is trauma. Psychological trauma usually involves some type of emotional assault and/or is the result of an extremely distressing event that negatively impacts the psyche. This can include bullying, witnessing violence, being forced to participate in violence or degrading acts. As with other types of trauma, psychological trauma may completely overwhelm the individual’s ability to cope and cause extreme mental distress. This distress can also manifest itself in the form of physical disease such as cancer, hypertension, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Social trauma is a type of distressing event or ongoing events an individual experiences in the wider society. For example, repeatedly facing discrimination because of your race or the color of your skin is a form of social trauma. Other forms of social trauma are sexism, ageism, and religious persecution. A person may not feel the impact of this type of trauma until after a suffering through a number of experiences which threaten to overwhelm the person’s ability to cope. Social trauma may also create symptoms of medical or mental illness.
Individuals experiencing psychological distress may suffer from various types of trauma—physical, psychological and social which can compound the person’s suffering and stretch their coping skills to the limit.
Take the time to explore how trauma could be impacting your mental and physical health, and learn what you can do to get healthy.