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Traumatic events can lead to maladaptive coping styles.  Management of the fear and anxiety through avoidant behaviors is common.  Use of substances, isolation, and over working are common maladaptive coping strategies.  Dealing with triggers that remind you of the trauma can lead to overwhelming feelings of helpless.  In time, untreated trauma can be devastating to your quality of life, relationships and overall well-being.

The personal response pattern to trauma varies among individuals. However, it will likely include emotional, mental, physical, and behavioral factors. Ones’ individual response pattern is a function of past experiences, past coping mechanisms, one’s support system, physical health at time of trauma, belief and value system, and the response of society and others to the traumatic experience.

Common responses are listed below:

Emotional                                       Mental                                                   Physical                                                             Behavioral                              

Anxiety                                               Confusion                                            Fatigue                                                                 Angry Outbursts

Fear                                                     Forgetfulness                                      Exhaustion                                                        Substance Use

Agitation                                            Difficulty                                              Gastrointestinal                                                Isolation

Irritability                                             concentrating                                           problems                                                    Withdrawal

Anger                                                  Distractibility                                       Respiratory                                                       Restless

Guilt                                                    Intrusive thoughts                                      problems                                                    Interpersonal problems

Grief/loss                                           Flashbacks                                            Headaches                                                         Appetite disturbance

Vulnerability                                     Nightmares                                           Twitching                                                           Sleep disturbance

Fragility                                              Obsessing                                               Sweating                                                            Change in libido

Disbelief                                             Hypervigilance                                    Dizziness                                                            Easily agitated


There are many types of abuse.  Abuse can encompass physical abuse, emotional/psychological abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse or assault. The victim of spousal abuse is often reluctant to admit that abuse has occurred.  Often they feel powerless, suffer from low self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness, and convinced they are incapable of managing their own lives.

When you experience a crisis, assault or trauma your reaction may be influenced by previous unresolved negative experiences. Therefore, not all of what you may be experiencing is due to your most recent trauma. A mental health professional can help work through the past and recent trauma, develop a self-care plan, and become aware of “red flags” that might trigger your trauma response behaviors.