‘Typical’ Trauma Reactions - Common Effects

Common Psychological effects of trauma exposure:

  • Recurrent dreams/nightmares
  • Intrusive thoughts or flashbacks
  • Sleep and/or appetite disturbance
  • Diminished interest in activities
  • Exaggerated startle response
  • Memory and concentration difficulties
  • Avoidance of activities which recall the event
  • Disturbing images or memories of the event
  • Feelings of detachment
  • A pattern of reenactment in behavior or play

Physiological aspects of trauma exposure:

  • "Fight or flight” hormones – emergency system
  • Opiate system may be activated
  • Can vacillate between "flooding” and "numbing”
  • Trauma reminders (or triggers) can set off above
  • Repeated exposure to trauma associated with structural changes in the brain

Common cognitive distortions of traumatized children:

  • I should have been able to keep it (the traumatic event) from happening.
  • My family will never be okay again.
  • It is my responsibility to become "the man of the house” now that my dad is dead.
  • I will never get back to normal/happy again.
  • The world will never be safe again.
  • I can’t trust anyone anymore.
  • School will never be safe again.
  • It’s my fault.
  • It’s going to happen again.

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