Recognizing Trauma


The American Psychological Association defines trauma as the emotional response someone has to an extremely negative event. It is also possible to suffer trauma when you are not the victim, but a witness. For some, the effects can be so severe that they interfere with the ability to live a normal life, leaving a lasting effect on mental and emotional stability.

Common symptoms include:

  • Intense and unpredictable feelings. Irritability, mood swings, anxiety, and depression are common
  • Repeated and vivid memories of the event that result in physical reactions such as rapid heartbeat or sweating
  • Fear that the event will be repeated
  • Confusion or difficulty making decisions
  • Sleep and/or eating issues
  • A change in interpersonal relationships, such as an increase in conflict or need to isolate
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea, and chest pain

This list is not exhaustive. Each individual responds to trauma in a different way and the symptoms can manifest days, weeks, or even years after the event. A professional counselor can best assess the need and method of care to alleviate traumatic symptoms. The sooner the trauma is addressed, the better chance of successful and full recovery.

Ann Sheerin MA

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