What are the symptoms of psychological trauma?

Symptoms of trauma can be grouped in physical, cognitive (thinking), behaviours and emotions.

Physical symptoms include:

  • Easily startled
  • Fatigue
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Aches and pains
  • Being constantly on the lookout for danger

Cognitive (thinking) symptoms:

  • Poor concentration and memory
  • Disorientation and confusion
  • Visual images of the event
  • Nightmares
  • Intrusive thoughts and memories of the event

Behaviours:

  • May avoid places which remind of event
  • Social withdrawal and isolation
  • Loss of interest in daily activities

Emotional symptoms include:

  • Fear
  • Numbness and detachment
  • Depression
  • Guilt
  • Anger and irritability
  • Anxiety and panic

The symptoms above are normal responses to trauma and as long as they are not too severe or do not last for too long, they are part of the healing process. Most people, with the support of family and friends regain their equilibrium fairly quickly. A small minority will develop serious conditions such as depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders or alcohol and/ or drug problems.

When to seek professional help

You should seek professional help if the trauma symptoms last more than a couple of weeks and/or are too distressing. Some warning signs are:

  • Increasing your use of alcohol or drugs
  • Having relationship problems with your partner, family members or at work
  • Having no-one to support you or share your feelings and emotions
  • Continuing to feel numb and empty
  • Continuing to have disturbed sleep and/or nightmares

To seek help, please do not hesitate to contact reception on 08 8363 3974