National Trauma Awareness Month – Discussing the Importance of Trauma-Informed Care

A woman is comforting another woman on a park bench

May is nationally recognized as both Mental Health and Trauma Awareness Month, highlighting the interconnectedness of such topics and how one may affect the other. In fact, trauma is often the underlying cause of many mental health conditions, and it contributes to complications for those struggling with eating disorders, substance use disorders, and other addictions or co-occurring conditions. In this blog, you will become more aware of trauma and its effects, learn sustainable ways to cope with it, and why it’s crucial to seek trauma-informed care to ensure a brighter future.

What Is Trauma?

“Trauma” is anything that provokes a mental, emotional, or physical reaction to a stressful situation, or threatening or dangerous event. Unfortunately, experiencing at least one form of trauma is becoming more and more common in the U.S.

The following are incidences that can be categorized under Trauma:

  • Verbal, physical, or sexual abuse
  • Witnessing abuse of a friend or a loved one
  • Neglect, manipulation, or intimidation of someone who is supposed to be a trusted figure
  • Separation or divorce in the family
  • Food insecurity
  • Mental illnesses or drug or alcohol use in the family
  • Personal drug or alcohol overuse incidents
  • Crime in the neighborhood or within a home
  • Car or motorcycle accidents
  • Death or suicide of a friend, partner, or family member
  • Serving in active military or experiences of violence and war
  • Working in the emergency response field
  • Experiences of discrimination
  • Being a victim of a natural disaster (tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, fires)
  • Threats of or experiences of homelessness

It’s important to note that this is not an extensive list of what classifies as trauma. Everyone’s life experiences are unique, so what one person experiences as traumatic may not be the same for another, and vice versa.

Just as everyone defines traumatic events differently, these events affect individuals in various ways as well. There are common symptoms of trauma and signs to look out for if you are trying to distinguish if your experience, or that of a loved one, was traumatic.

Side Effects of Trauma*:

Physical Symptoms Emotional Symptoms Other Symptoms
Stomach problems and/or trouble eating Feeling nervous, helpless, fearful, or down Losing hope for the future
Trouble sleeping and feeling very tired Feeling shocked, numb, unable to feel love or joy Feeling distant, detached, or a lost sense of concern for others
Rapid heart rate, rapid breathing, trembling,

sweating

Getting easily upset or agitated, or irritated Being unable to concentrate or make decisions
Severe headache when thinking of the event Having angry outbursts Easily startled at sudden noises

 

Not keeping up with personal health care Blaming yourself or having negative views of oneself or the world Feeling on guard and alert all the time

 

Over or under-eating Lack of trust in others or trying to control everything Having dreams and/or memories that upset you
Smoking or using alcohol or drugs more Being withdrawn, feeling rejected, or abandoned Problems at work or school
Ongoing medical conditions are worsening Feeling detached, not wanting intimacy or close relations Avoiding people, places and things related to the event

** National Center for PTSD

It’s common for those dealing with the aftereffects of trauma and forms of PTSD to report feelings of anxiousness or depressive thoughts or episodes. However, if you or someone you know is having suicidal ideation or suicidal thoughts, reach out for help immediately. Call 9-8-8 for 24/7 support. It is vital that you or your loved one seek professional treatment as soon as possible.

Risks of Unsustainable Coping

Often, individuals turn to substance use to self-medicate and cope with trauma. This is a dangerous approach, as these substances only temporarily provide relief for a deep-rooted issue. The nature of using substances also builds a tolerance in one’s body, making it harder and harder to find relief with each use. Soon individuals may find themselves in an addictive cycle, unable to break free from the effects of trauma or the substances they turned to.

Sometimes, those struggling with past trauma may also adopt strict eating behaviors, or eat less or more than they ever have before. This coping mechanism is just as dangerous as substance use, as these behaviors can slowly develop into an eating disorder, the lasting effects of which can be detrimental to someone’s health and well-being.

When traumatic events occur during childhood, that untreated trauma can have a significant impact on a youth’s growth and development and can even cause mental and physical health problems in adulthood. Studies that examine people’s childhood experiences to their health now as adults found that those with adverse childhood experiences, or traumas, were less healthy overall. Serious health effects may also occur for any adult that has experienced a recent traumatic event.  

The most effective way to cope with trauma is through professionally supported treatment. However, there are a few sustainable coping mechanisms individuals may start to implement while they seek treatment.

The following are simple sustainable strategies:

  • Practice daily breathing and relaxation techniques. One simple exercise is to breathe in for 5 counts, hold for 5 counts, and release for 5 counts then repeat until you feel you have calmed your nervous system.
  • Break through mental barriers and attempt to participate in one of your favorite hobbies or interests again or try out a new hobby like painting or drawing. Remember, your artwork doesn’t have to be perfect for it to bring comfort.
  • Reach out to your support system and be honest with them about how you are doing or what you are feeling.
  • Practice self-care by going for a light walk, journaling, and making sure to get enough sleep.
  • Try your best to give yourself grace and understanding. Work on accepting that you may not be the same as you were before a traumatic event, but with proper care and treatment, you can be stronger, more resilient, and more at peace.

The Importance of Trauma-Informed Care at Suncloud

At SunCloud Health, we offer treatment for trauma, substance use, addiction, and eating disorders along with other co-occurring mental health disorders. Our programming includes multiple levels of care and forms of evidence-based therapy, so we are sure to find a fit for each individual no matter their need. Through our comprehensive approach, we work with our patients to find clinical and therapeutic solutions by considering the patient’s past while helping them pursue recovery.

SunCloud is dedicated to providing a welcoming safe space that supports individuals working toward recovery from trauma and other mental health conditions.

You are not your past, and healing from trauma is possible with proper treatment and support. Help is available for you at SunCloud Health.

Call today to set up a consultation: (844) 576-0279

Or visit our website to learn more: https://suncloudhealth.com/treatment/trauma-ptsd