Whether it is an electric shock, or a car accident, or the sudden death of a loved one. Such events occur suddenly and have a very intense effect on us. The more intense and sudden the event, the more likely we are to receive a shock.
- Flashbacks and nightmares
You experience the event again and again. These flashbacks can be extremely realistic with all the emotions, sweats and noises from back then. Minor things in everyday life can trigger a flashback. For example, if you had a car accident in the rain in autumn, raindrops or falling leaves can cause a flashback.
- Avoidance behaviour & deafness
The experience can be so painful or stirring that you avoid any memory of it. You try to distract yourself, perhaps through a hobby, through too much work, or by spending your time crosswording. You avoid places, situations and people who remind you of them. You try to cope with your feelings by not feeling anything anymore. You become emotionally numb. You communicate less with people. They then find living together or working together with you exhausting.
- Excessive vigilance
You are constantly on your guard. You cannot relax, you do not sleep well and your fellow human beings perceive you as erratic, quick to react and easily irritable. You yourself do not know why this is so.
- Feelings of panic and fear
You may notice that certain triggers cause anxiety or panic. These triggers can be snowflakes, for example, when the accident took place in winter when there was a lot of snow. These feelings can occur subtly throughout the day or they can flood you massively. You only know that this was not the case in the past.
Your depression may be directly related to a traumatic experience (shock trauma). You may discover during therapy that the cause lies in your childhood (complex trauma). A recent shock trauma can also activate a previously sleeping childhood trauma and plunge you into a deep depression.
You feel attracted to risky situations or to hazardous people. You cannot then say no or escape the situation.
- Emotional fluctuations
Your actions and reactions are impulsive and sometimes exaggerated. Because of trifles you get upset or very aggressive or get into deep helplessness or apathy. Your emotions shoot up and you probably have problems with your control. These mood swings are exhausting. You feel like you’re involuntarily sitting in an emotional roller coaster and never know what’s next.
- Sleep problems
You have nightmares. You wake up at night with an “alarm feeling”. Your sleep is not restful. Accordingly, you are overtired during the day. That consumes energy.
- Concentration problems
You are distracted or mentally absent, disconnect at every opportunity, have concentration problems, cannot think clearly, have decision-making difficulties or orientation problems, have no plan, lose track quickly, are forgetful, misplace objects or bump into furniture.
You feel constantly overwhelmed. Everything is simply too much for you. This can lead to shame, anger, depression or the feeling of having extremely weak nerves.
- Contact problems
Your friends and colleagues find living together or working with you exhausting. You yourself have contact problems, are unable to get involved, do not receive the feedback you wish for, find it difficult to receive affection and love from others. The constant preoccupation with your own inexplicable sensitivities and symptoms prevents you from making and maintaining open contacts.
- Tension and pain in the flexor muscles
Those tensions occur when the fighting, flight and dead position reflexes activate the flexor muscles. However, if the survival energy provided is not released, tension and pain occur. – The flexors are the muscles you use when you contract into a ball or when you adopt the posture of a boxer or an angry, hissing cat with an arched back. This includes the deep pelvic, abdominal, chest, jaw and neck muscles, as well as the flexors of the arms and legs.
If you tighten the flexor muscles, the neck muscles are affected. This hampers blood flow and oxygen supply to the brain. As a result, you are prone to headaches or migraines.
- Orientation problems
You can hardly orient yourself in road traffic. At home you often displace objects and have to search for them. All in all you quickly lose track and don’t know what’s next or where to go.
- Diarrhoea – irritable bowel syndrome
When mammals fight or flee, digestion is stopped and the intestine emptied. This is why many people have diarrhoea before an exam situation or have to go to the toilet shortly before. This mechanism cannot be switched off after a shock trauma. This then manifests itself in chronic or changing diarrhoea and stomach complaints. Occasionally an “irritable bowel” is diagnosed.
- Irregular heartbeat
You notice unusual heart actions. They are perceived as too fast, strained, too strong or irregular. However, your cardiologist will not be able to determine the cause.
- Excessive alcohol consumption
Alcohol relaxes and lets you forget your “unsolvable” problems for a short time. This is not addictive behaviour, but rather self-medication. However, it can later turn into addiction.
- Drugs including painkillers or sedatives
In order to survive your everyday life and remain functional, you regularly take medication such as sedatives, stimulants, mood enhancers, sleeping pills, painkillers or muscle relaxants. You may also resort to illegal drugs.
- Feelings of numbness
You do not feel parts of your body or have numbness in certain parts of your body. Neurologically, however, nothing can be detected.
- You are sensitive to light, sounds, smells or skin touches.
- You are repeatedly in a state of exhaustion or are constantly physically and psychologically exhausted. Accordingly, you are constantly working and living at your performance limits. You feel exhausted. Everything is too much for you.
- Willingness to perform
You have the feeling that you are constantly under power. You have far too much energy at your disposition. You don’t know where to put so much energy. Thereby you quickly exceed your physical limit. This alternates with deep states of exhaustion.
„Trauma is perhaps the most avoided, ignored, belittled, denied, misunderstood, and untreated cause of human suffering. Although it is the source of tremendous distress and dysfunction, it is not an ailment or a disease, but the byproduct of an instinctively instigated, altered state of consciousness. We enter this altered state, let us call it survival mode, when we perceive that our lives are being threatened. If we are overwhelmed by the threat and are unable to successfully defend ourselves, we can become stuck in survival mode. This highly aroused state is designed solely to enable short-term defensive actions; but left untreated over time, it begins to form the symptoms of trauma.“ Peter A. Levine, Waking the Tiger
The following syndromes are associated with trauma:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Myofascial pain syndrome
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Asthma bronchiale
- Immune system problems like common cold or stomach upse
If the symptoms subside within six weeks of the shock event, it is a normal adjustment reaction without trauma. If the symptoms last longer than six weeks, it is probably a trauma.
- Basically, the more intense the shock, the higher the probability of trauma. But even an insignificant car body damage can cause a trauma.
- The symptoms occur immediately after the shock situation or with a delay of up to 18 months.
- The symptoms appear insidiously and can persist for years.
- You yourself do not recognize the connection between the symptoms or only incompletely.
- The symptoms are sometimes bizarre, very individual and difficult for you to classify.
- In general, your fellow human beings do not notice what is going on in you.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me in my practice in Berlin or Munich. Here you will find the contact page.