When people think of trauma and mental health, many jump to the obvious trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) connection. Yet trauma can lurk in the shadows of many other mental health issues, from substance abuse disorders to depression.
And trauma comes in many different forms — from violence to more subtle issues like grief and loss. It’s such a complex and recurrent component of mental health that our team at Live Life Wellness Clinic wants to spend some time covering the topic here.
Here’s what we want you to know about trauma.
The first thing we want to make clear is that trauma is very common. To give you an idea, at least 70% of adults in the United States have had at least one traumatic event or experience during their lives. This includes the one in four children who witness or experience trauma before age 16.
Aside from how common trauma is, another point to understand is that trauma comes in many different forms, some more obvious than others.
For example, direct violence or assault is a clear trauma, but the death of a loved one or an illness can also be traumatic. In fact, many experts point to the global COVID-19 pandemic as a traumatic event that everyone faced.
The following list illustrates just some of the many ways in which people experience the issue:
And the list goes on. It’s important to note that what one person may not consider traumatic can be very traumatic for another.
When your brain tries to deal with trauma, it sometimes pushes the mental pain down, only to have it rear up later. When a person doesn’t process trauma properly, it can lead to mental health issues quite easily.
In fact, it’s no exaggeration to say that trauma can be a risk factor for almost all mental health disorders. For instance, in the public behavioral health setting, about 90% of patients report trauma.
Most apparently is PTSD, which affects about 6% of the US population. But trauma can also lead to other issues, such as substance use disorders — people who seek treatment for PTSD are 14 times more likely to have a co-occuring substance use disorder.
Many people with depression and anxiety can also trace the issue back to trauma. For example, depression can set in after grief or loss. Going back to the COVID-19 example, this traumatic experience led to a large uptick in anxiety, especially in children who were isolated.
Our point in all of this is that we want you to pay close attention to trauma. If you believe that you or a loved one isn't processing an experience or event well, it’s important to seek help now so the problem doesn’t grow and hijack your mental health.
If you have more questions about trauma or if you’d like to schedule some time with one of our mental health experts, please contact our Houston office or click the “Book online” link on this website.