Trauma & PTSD Signs, Effects, Causes & Symptoms

Acadiana Treatment Center helps individuals struggling with trauma & PTSD build a strong foundation for long-term recovery. Serving Louisiana, Acadiana is the premier provider of alcohol and drug abuse and co-occurring disorder treatment for adults.

Understanding Trauma & PTSD

Learn About Trauma & PTSD

Psychological trauma is a form of damage to the psyche occurring following a particularly traumatic event. A traumatic event can be a single experience or a repeated event or events which completely overwhelm an individual’s ability to cope with the emotions or ideas involving the event. The feelings of being overwhelmed may delayed weeks or years depending on the event. Trauma often involves a sense of violation of human rights and worldview.

While shock and denial are typical responses right after the event as these are ways of protecting the psyche. Shock is a rapid and usually intense disturbance of normal emotional states leaving an individual feeling dazed, while denial involves pretending as though the event did not occur. Many individuals report feeling emotionally numb after the event. Once the initial symptoms subside, reactions do vary among individuals. It’s important to note different people react differently to traumatic events. What may cause significant psychological trauma in one person may not in a person who experienced the same traumatic event. Feelings after the trauma may be unpredictable and intense, rapidly shifting back and forth dramatically throughout the day – an individual who experiences trauma may be especially depressed one moment and anxious the next.

Psychological trauma can lead to serious and deadly long-term consequences which may be overlooked by even the most talented of mental health professionals. It’s imperative individuals who do suffer from severe traumatic reactions not blame themselves for their reactions. It’s unknown why some people react so strongly to a certain event, although self-blame is a very common feeling among trauma victims. If you are struggling from the after-effects of trauma, remember this: you are a normal person who is struggling to make sense of an abnormal situation.

When the trauma becomes too much for you to handle, it’s time to seek help from trained professionals who do understand trauma. Sometimes, things are simply too hard to manage on your own – that’s when it’s time to turn to the trusted staff at Acadiana Treatment Center.


Types of Psychological Trauma

Trauma can be precipitated by a multitude of events which may or may not involve physical trauma. Typical causes for the development of psychological trauma may include the following:

  • Sexual assault/rape
  • Sexual abuse
  • Harassment
  • Domestic abuse
  • Natural disasters – earthquakes, deadly tornadoes, volcanos
  • Police brutality
  • War
  • Extreme poverty
  • Adult children of alcoholics

Risk Factors

Risk Factors of Trauma & PTSD

Just as there is no set course for grief and grieving, there’s not a single pattern of reactions to the intense stress of a traumatic event. Some may experience symptoms immediately while others may take months or years to see symptoms. Reactions to trauma do vary over time. The factors affecting recovery include the following:

  • The degree to which the event was traumatic
  • The event was entirely unexpected
  • The individual felt unprepared for the event
  • The event was repeated
  • The event was unnecessarily cruel
  • The trauma occurred in childhood
  • The amount of loss sustained
  • The overall ability for an individual to cope with stressful emotional situations
  • Stressful events which may have preceded the traumatic experience

Not all traumatic events cause traumatic reactions for all individuals. Certain people are more apt to rebound more quickly from trauma while others are devastated by the same event. There are a number of risk factors increasing the likelihood an individual will suffer from traumatic stress following an event. These include:

  • Burden of stress
  • Recent losses in interpersonal life
  • Feeling unstable and unsafe in the environment
  • Serious illness
  • Abuse – sexual, physical, verbal, emotional, financial
  • Domestic violence
  • Bullying
  • Intrusive medical procedures

Signs and Symptoms

Signs & Symptoms of Trauma & PTSD

Many individuals who undergo very traumatic events often struggle with very serious symptoms after the event. The severity of these symptoms depends upon the person, type of traumatic event and the emotional support received after the event. Symptoms can be varied and differ from person to person and are not always experienced in the same way by the same individuals. Common symptoms of trauma include:

Mood symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Anger
  • Irritability
  • Despair
  • Mood swings
  • Guilt
  • Shame
  • Self-blame
  • Sadness
  • Hopelessness

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Frequent nightmares
  • Confusion; difficulty concentrating
  • Social isolation
  • Substance abuse
  • Alcoholism
  • Avoiding certain events that may trigger memories

Physical symptoms:

  • Insomnia
  • Exaggerated startle reflex
  • Aches and pain
  • Exhaustion
  • Edginess
  • Agitation
  • Muscle tension
  • Dry mouth
  • Tachycardia
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting

Psychological symptoms:

  • Triggers of the trauma
  • Shock, denial, disbelief
  • Flashbacks – the individual may re-experience traumatic events over and over
  • Fears
  • Insecurities
  • Repressed memories
  • Dissociation
  • Emotional numbing
  • Emotional detachment
  • Low self-esteem
  • Self-medication with drugs and alcohol
  • Self-harming behaviors


Effects of Trauma & PTSD

The effects of untreated traumatic reactions only worsen over time leading to intense and visceral reactions. Trauma must be treated before the effects of the event become so severe an individual may not be able to function in daily life. These may include:

  • Addiction to substances
  • Severe fear
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Inability to form attachments to other people
  • Re-experiencing the event
  • Flashbacks
  • Disconnection and emotional numbing
  • Avoiding increasing amounts of things that remind you of the trauma
  • Strained interpersonal relationships
  • Difficulties moving past traumatic event
  • Alcoholism
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Suicidal ideations
  • Suicide

Many individuals who undergo intense psychiatric trauma will develop serious co-occurring disorders at some point before or following the traumatic event. These types of co-occurring disorders may include:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Alcoholism
  • Substance abuse disorders
  • Depressive disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

A Foundation for Recovery

At Acadiana Treatment Center, we aim to help each client attain a thorough understanding of the concerns they're facing and learn how to find relief. Our treatment focuses on thorough education and employs proven methods of individualized treatment.

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After my active duty, I really struggled. My wife was concerned and she knew that I was suffering. She contacted Acadiana and their admissions team gave us a run down of treatment and how I could benefit from it. I made a leap of faith and enrolled. Let me tell you, the program was SO WORTH IT. I feel so much better now and am able to enjoy my life again thanks to the program at Acadiana

– Anonymous Patient
We are affiliated with the following organizations, which provide accreditation, education, and training to ensure quality mental health and addiction treatment.
  • Addictive Disorder Regulatory Authority
  • Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF)
  • National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP)
  • The Jason Foundation