Going through very stressful, terrifying, or distressing events is sometimes called trauma. When we talk about emotional or psychological trauma, we might mean:
situations or events we find traumatic
how we're affected by our experiences
Traumatic events can happen at any age and can cause long-lasting harm. Everyone has a different reaction to trauma, so you might notice any effects quickly, or a long time afterward.
How our bodies respond
When we feel stressed or intimidated, our bodies release hormones called cortisol and adrenaline. This is the body's instinctive way of preparing to respond to danger, and we have no control over it.
This can have a range of effects, which are sometimes called:
Freeze – feeling paralyzed or unable to move
Flop – doing what you're told without being able to protest
Fight – fighting, struggling, or protesting
Flight – hiding or moving away
Fawn – trying to please someone who harms you
Studies have shown that stress signs can continue long after the trauma is over. This might affect your mind and body, including how you think, feel, and behave.
Treatments that may help with the mental health effects of trauma include:
Arts and creative therapies
Everyone has their own response to trauma. The treatment you are offered will depend on your particular symptoms and diagnosis (if you have one), and on your own unique needs. What helps is different from person to person, and can change over time. So keeping an open mind and exploring different options can be useful.