Trauma-Related Issues

What is psychological trauma?

Many People are exposed to potentially traumatic events at various points across their lifetime. Traumatic events are those that tend to be frightening, shocking, unexpected, sudden and negative. They involve actual, or threat of, serious harm or death of an individual or someone close to them. The exception is in our military and first responders who can experience trauma in response to repeated exposure to horrific events as part of their jobs. Psychological trauma involves strong emotional and physical responses following exposure to such an event or series of events. In some, this response can occur some time after the event. Responses vary from person to person, but the impact tends to lead to someone having difficulties managing through everyday life.

Common Symptoms

Although it is most common for symptoms to lessen over time, some people will find themselves struggling with symptoms for a much longer period, with no sign of symptoms dissipating. There are a range of factors that can influence this, including the type of traumatic event, level and type of support, other life-stressors, and individual coping mechanisms.

Common symptoms of a traumatic stress response following a traumatic event can be broken into four categories:

  • Physical – shaking, exhaustion, sleep problems, being on high alert and easily startled
  • Cognitive – difficulty concentrating, memory problems, confusion, intense memories of the event/s, and nightmares.
  • Behavioural – withdrawal from others, physical agitation, avoidance of any reminders of the event/s, and loss of interest in usual activity.
  • Emotional – anger, irritability, anxiety and fear, guilt, shame, sadness, numbness and detachment.

Self-Management, Tips, and Strategies

There are varied techniques that may be able to assist self-recovery following exposure to from a traumatic event:

  • Know that it is normal for you to have some form of reaction to the experienced trauma. Try not be angry towards yourself for feeling upset.
  • Allow yourself time and space to move through the emotions.
  • Avoid excessive use of alcohol and drugs
  • Refrain from making any life changing decisions.
  • Allow your thoughts to naturally flow and avoid attempting to block them out.
  • Talk to others if you feel comfortable doing so and try to let them know what you know.
  • Keep to a structured and normal routine, for example, practice regular exercise, relaxation techniques, and writing in a journal.

When can a Psychologist help?

For most individuals who experience trauma, treatment will not be required; symptoms will naturally dissipate over time. For others however, the trauma experienced will significantly alter their lives and they will often require help from a mental health professional. When symptoms cause significant distress, persist beyond a few weeks, and prevent you from undertaking your usual activities it may be useful to speak to your doctor and/or psychologist.  Our team is here to help when you need a bit of extra support to recover. You can book online here, give us a call on (02) 4625 3339 or email us at

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