We are all susceptible to experiencing trauma. It can occur at any time in our lives and in a variety of ways. To make matters even more complicated around the subject of trauma, it can affect people differently, with symptoms presenting themselves in different ways and at different times. Some, for example, may experience the physical and mental effects of trauma months or even years after a triggering event occurs.

Identifying trauma can feel complicated, especially if an individual struggles to rationalise their feelings or understand the cause. In such circumstances, people can be made to feel worse as they experience mental ill-health or even physical symptoms without the ability to properly overcome the effects or recognise what’s happening.

Five key categories of symptoms commonly associated with trauma are fight, flight, flop, freeze, and fawn. These describe a response to a situation or environment, generally one associated with a traumatic event or reminding an individual of their experience, prompting them to react. Fight, flight, and freeze, may seem self-explanatory but flop and fawn are more complicated.

The flop reaction is experienced when an individual is unable to react and finds themselves immobilised by the situation. Fawn, on the other hand, is whereby an individual may see themselves seek to appease individuals that are actively harmful to their wellbeing.

Traumatic events do not always resolve themselves with time. In fact, they can both worsen and lay dormant for years. This means that the results of a traumatic event can manifest much later in life, making it quite difficult for individuals to understand why they are experiencing a situation the way they are. Individuals may also see their symptoms become more extreme if they do not seek support to recover.

It is never too late to begin one’s road to recovery and services that support individual support, such as trauma counselling, are becoming more ubiquitous. A first port of call for many is to speak to their GP who may be able to offer direct help or signpost a useful initiative. Private services are also available, with many individuals now seeking counselling and psychodynamic therapy as a way to begin exploring their own experiences to better understand the triggers and effects that they experience. Such long-term counselling relationships can also be a useful way to identify and overcome the original experience of trauma.

To begin your journey to recovery, it can be worthwhile to find and contact a local trauma specialist, such as Bristol Counselling and Psychotherapy for those in the Southwest. Doing so will allow you to begin sessions with an experienced and accredited therapist who can offer a safe space within which to explore trauma at your own pace.

While it can be difficult to begin the journey to recovery, especially if there are emotions such as shame or anger surrounding an experience, it can be managed at any pace and with utmost sensitivity, which is exactly why most individuals who endeavour to seek support find themselves all the better for it.

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