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Invisible Wounds: The Hidden Impacts of Trauma

Trauma can affect us in various and harmful ways. It has the ability to cause severe harm and impact people in ways they may not even realize or fully understand. Before we can begin to treat trauma and heal from it, we must first understand what it is and how it can affect us. Though trauma can affect people in different ways, for this post we will focus on the ways in which it tends to affect people the most. 

Trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, assault, or natural disaster. The English word for trauma actually originates from the ancient Greek word for “injury” and “wound.” A trauma wound or injury can occur through various events and experiences, whether it be abuse, witnessing abuse, a car crash, a tumultuous divorce, being in war, feeling neglected or manipulated, and many other experiences like these. Trauma can also appear singular or recurring, meaning that trauma can occur from a one time event or it can be something that happens repeatedly. No matter what specific trauma it is or how it happens, it can often leave a person feeling its effects for weeks, months, and even years.

It is a traumatic experience or event that often leaves people feeling stuck. Life keeps moving forward, but there is a part of someone who has experienced trauma that can’t move forward from the past. This can cause much angst and frustration as a person desperately wants to move away from the hurt and pain. In some cases, people find themselves wanting to separate from their body, because of the trauma associated with it. Ultimately, this can lead to feelings of anxiousness, depressed mood, and even suicidal thoughts.

Trauma can heavily impact our relationships. Before the trauma of an affair, a spouse trusted their spouse with everything. Now, he or she may not only not trust their spouse but even close loved ones around them. It doesn’t feel safe anymore to lend out trust, because with trust may come hurt and pain. Our brain wants to keep that from happening again, so our response is to no longer trust those around us. 

Trauma can affect how we see ourselves. A person who once viewed themself positively with likable qualities may now experience feelings of worthlessness, not good enough, or feeling like a burden to others. Trauma can also impact how we see the world. Before trauma, the world was a relatively safe place. We could go to restaurants, travel to different places, and develop deep and meaningful relationships. Now, certain places may no longer feel safe and people should not be trusted. The narrative can quickly become that the world is a harsh place and so are the people in it. This can often lead to feelings of hopelessness and despair. 

Trauma can affect every part of our lives, whether it be relationships, the world around us, or even how we see ourselves. It can leave us with feelings of hopelessness, disappointment, and a depressed mood. However, there is always hope. Recovery and healing is possible. Though trauma can oftentimes leave invisible wounds, once treated, those invisible wounds can soon heal. Your view of self, relationships, and even the world around you can be healthy and whole once again. 

Written by: Dr. Austin Shugart, LPC

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