TRAUMA: Symptoms & Types

Updated: Mar 8




In my last blog, I described trauma in a general sense. In this blog, I would like to be more specific and discuss symptoms and types of trauma. 

Big vs. Little

When we first think of trauma, most of us perceptualize big traumas. Some big traumas would include robbery, physical or sexual abuse, a school shooting, house burning down, major surgeries, rape, war, combat, etc.  These traumas are the typical ones we hear about that many may view as traumatic. 

On the flip side of that, there are little traumas. These traumatic experiences are on a smaller scale, however, this does not mean that a person cannot, or isn’t allowed, to view that experience as traumatic. Examples of little traumas include criticism, constant bullying, neglect in childhood, and more. These types of traumas are sometimes referred to as a “complex trauma.”

Chronic vs. Acute

These two types of traumas vary in the duration of the experience. Chronic trauma is when a person experiences the trauma more than once, over and over. Some examples of chronic trauma would include torture, ongoing sexual or physical abuse, include criticism, constant bullying, neglect in childhood, and more. These types of traumas are sometimes referred to as “complex trauma.”

Acute trauma is when a person experiences the traumatic event once. Some examples of acute trauma would include a car accident, natural disasters, riots, one-time sexual assault, or a plane crash, for example. 

Symptoms of Trauma

Whether trauma is seen as big or little, chronic or acute, there are common symptoms a person can experience. Some of these symptoms include:

Whether the trauma is seen as big or little, chronic or acute, there are common symptoms a person can experience. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Flashbacks

  • Hypervigilance

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Nightmares/night terrors

  • Being startled easily

  • Avoiding people, places, and things associated with the memory

  • Mood changes/shifts

  • Poor memory

  • Anger outbursts

  • Irritability

  • Feelings of detachment

  • Difficulty sleeping

Many people who experience any kind of trauma can develop PTSD, (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). PTSD is where a person experiences the symptoms above, although symptoms can be more intense and longer-lasting. However, because someone experiences trauma does not necessarily mean this person will automatically develop PTSD; each individual is different. 

Many people who experience any kind of trauma can develop PTSD, (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). PTSD is where a person experiences the symptoms above, although symptoms can be more intense and longer lasting. However, because someone experiences trauma does not necessarily mean this person will automatically develop PTSD; each individual is different. 




All these types and symptoms of traumas, if left untreated, can have long lasting effects on a person’s physical and emotional well-being. Because of this, it is important for people who have experienced trauma in their lives to seek out professional help, including counseling/therapy. 

Recovering from Trauma

All these types and symptoms of traumas, if left untreated, can have long-lasting effects on a person’s physical and emotional well-being. Because of this, it is important for people who have experienced trauma in their lives to seek out professional help, including counseling/therapy. 

Recovering from trauma can be a tricky and ongoing process but it does not mean it can’t be done. There are many different types of therapeutic approaches used to treat trauma. Two of the more popular types of therapy to address trauma are Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR). These two are found to be some of the most beneficial therapies when dealing with trauma. 

In an upcoming blog, I will discuss EMDR in more detail and what I have learned in a recent seminar I attended on it. Stay tuned! 

If you have experienced some traumatic event in your life and would like to make an appointment with me, click here.




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