Trauma—our mental and emotional response to a deeply distressing event that overwhelms our ability to process the stress we feel—can make us feel terrible and helpless. In severe cases we may feel paralyzed and unable to help ourselves. The experiences that trigger trauma vary widely, and each individual’s responses will be different. Someone could experience trauma from a distressing social experience that another may laugh off, while the roles may be reversed if the two witnessed the same car crash. The effects of trauma may not be immediately obvious and may surface in seemingly unrelated situations or behaviors. Thankfully, there are many effective therapies available for identifying and working through trauma.
If you or someone you know is in immediate need of support, please seek professional help. If you are in crisis, here are some immediate free resources.
A top expert on human trauma argues that we vastly overestimate how common PTSD is and fail to recognize how resilient people really are. After 9/11, mental health professionals flocked to New York to handle what everyone assumed would be a flood of trauma cases. Oddly, the flood never came.