Trauma is often the result of having experienced a distressing, disturbing, or stressful event, it can be a short-term and a long-term condition, describing our reaction to both one-off events and repeated experiences that take place over months or even years. 

Traumatic events can happen at any age and to anyone, such experiences can cause long-lasting problems with each person reacting differently. Some people don’t feel the effects of trauma for many years, whereas others react very quickly.

Causes of trauma

The causes of trauma are often experiences that make you feel frightened, unsafe, powerless, unable to escape, humiliated, abandoned, ashamed or rejected and can include:

  • rape or assault
  • losing a loved one (especially unexpectedly or under difficult circumstances)
  • domestic violence or emotional abuse
  • witnessing an act of violence or an accident
  • being involved in an accident or natural disaster
  • being the victim of a crime
  • severe illness, injury or a long-term health condition
  • living in a traumatic atmosphere or a precarious situation
  • experiencing a sudden life change

Signs, symptoms and effects of trauma

The first effects of trauma are typically shock and denial – while long-term effects include emotional volatility, flashbacks to the experience, difficulty in relationships and some physical symptoms. We’ve listed these below.

The physical effects of trauma

Our bodies respond to stress or threat by releasing adrenaline and cortisol, preparing us to face danger. This can have some unwanted effects such as: 

Freeze – feeling paralysed 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

The mental and emotional effects of trauma

These can include:

  • Flashbacks
  • Panic attacks
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Self-harm
  • Grief
  • Heightened anxiety
  • Suicidal feelings
  • Dissociation
  • Alcohol or substance abuse

Trauma can also directly cause mental health issues or make you more prone to them, especially post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 


  • For some people, talking about their traumatic experience may trigger anxiety, panic attacks, dissociation, or suicidal feelings – so they simply don’t talk about it. But keeping it to yourself can brings problem of its own, so try to talk to someone you trust, it may be hard at first, but just expressing how you are feeling can really help
  • Talk to a trained Counsellor who will help you to address the trauma you are facing
  • Speak with your GP, some people choose medication to help with their response to trauma
  • Understand your triggers and what reminds you of past traumas, it could be a smell, a particular place or a significant date
  • Look after your physical health, exercise, sleep well and have a good diet
  • Consider joining peer support groups that include other people who have suffered similar trauma
  • Practice self-care and take time for yourself, not only to relax but also to deal with your trauma at your own pace

If you would like to speak with us about your trauma, please get in touch via our CONTACT US page or by email at