A trauma is a single life event, or a series of life events that were disturbing and has a long lasting psychological impact on the person causing the loss of functions.

Events that are traumatic include:

  • Sexual abuse in childhood
  • Physical abuse in childhood
  • Sexual assault
  • Physical assault
  • Combat
  • Being held hostage or imprisoned
  • Terrorism
  • Torture
  • Natural and man-made disasters
  • Accidents
  • Receiving the diagnosis of a life threatening illness

Symptoms relating to untreated trauma and childhood attachment problems include:

  • Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Addictions
  • Risk-taking behaviours
  • Feeling helpless
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Obsessions
  • Compulsive behaviours
  • Phobias
  • Irritability, anger and rage, mood swings.
  • Guilt
  • Shame
  • Poor concentration
  • Violent behaviours
  • Poor sleep patterns
  • Dissociation
  • Withdrawing

PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)

The symptoms of PTSD are:

  • Re-experiencing the traumatic event in a range of sensory forms. This phenomenon is called a flashback.
  • Avoiding reminders of the trauma by avoiding or numbing emotions. In some cases, we call it dissociation.
  • Chronic hyperarousal of the nervous system. This is called disregulated arousal.

It is important to note that these symptoms are normal to experience immediately after traumatic event. If some of these symptoms persist one month after the traumatic event, a diagnosis of PTSD can be formulated.

When the symptoms of PTSD are chronic, they can lead to psychological disturbances such as:

  • Acute anxiety and panic attacks.
  • Sleep disturbances.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Sexual dysfunctions.
  • Difficulties with concentration.
  • Difficulties with relationships.

People trying to cope with unresolved psychological trauma often lead an unsatisfying life. Without treatment, it is difficult to recover from the effects of unresolved trauma and its lasting impact on the mind and body.

What is Birth Trauma? 

By Kate Munden – Trauma Specialist

A traumatic birth is a childbirth experience that may cause a new mother to develop Post Traumatic Stress symptoms. Those who have experienced an overwhelming or traumatic birth can be clinically diagnosed with PTSD. However, many others will experience PTS symptoms without ever being clinically diagnosed. Many mothers mask or ignore symptoms as they and the family focus on the new baby.

PTSD can be described as “a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.” 

During childbirth, there are no particular criteria for challenging birth circumstances that will result in PTSD. Just as two plane passengers may experience turbulence differently, two women could experience the same type of birth but one develops postnatal PSTD while the other doesn’t. Trauma is complex and often in the eye of the beholder. 

While there are many more instances that may lead to PTS symptoms, the most frequently reported instances are emergency caesarean, a lack of care, respect and compassion from caregivers, or the infant needing to go to Intensive Care. 

If you have experienced birth trauma, know that you are not alone. About 45% of new mothers report that they have experienced a traumatic birth. The following is a non-exhaustive list of the signs and symptoms of post-natal PTSD as stated by Mind. 

● Excessive tearfulness or feeling very numb and disconnected

● Reliving the event through flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, or nightmares 

● Intense distress at reminders of the trauma 

● Alertness or feeling on edge causing irritability, feelings of anger, difficulty concentrating, or difficulty sleeping 

● Avoiding feelings or being unable to remember details of what happened 

● Overwhelming feelings of anger, sadness, guilt, or shame 

● Feeling unsafe or like you can’t trust anyone