7 Signs of Trauma: Navigating Trauma for a Better Mental Health

Published on September 26, 2023

Trauma isn't just an experience; it's the invisible footprint that past hardships can leave on our lives. We often cannot control or recognise these footprints because they are like storms within us or emotional turmoil within us. Let's examine the 7 signs of trauma that can damage your mental health before we learn how to navigate through them.

Defining Trauma:

Trauma, at its core, is an emotional wound. It's the result of distressing experiences that leave a mark mentally and also on your body. These experiences could possibly range from accidents to abuse, loss to natural disasters, and much more.

7 Signs of Trauma 

1. Emotional Sensitivity: Ever felt like your emotions are on a rollercoaster? Trauma can make those ups and downs more intense. It's like having your volume dial turned up, and even the smallest things can feel overwhelming. For example, a simple disagreement might lead to intense feelings of anger or sadness.

2. Anxiety and Panic: Those sudden waves of anxiety or panic? Trauma might be the hidden trigger. It's like an alarm system that can be overly sensitive after a traumatic experience. For instance, a car accident survivor might experience panic attacks when getting into a vehicle.

3. Avoidance: Do you find yourself steering clear of places or situations that remind you of the past? Trauma often makes us instinctively avoid what's uncomfortable, but that can also limit our growth. Imagine someone who survived a fire avoiding even the sight of a lit candle.

4. Difficulty Trusting Others: Trust issues can be a byproduct of trauma. It's like having a protective shield around your heart, making it hard to let people in. Some adults who have experienced child sexual abuse cannot trust their own family members with their children, fearing that they will suffer the same fate.

5. Flashbacks and Intrusive Thoughts: Trauma memories can haunt us with vivid flashbacks and intrusive thoughts. They're like unwelcome guests at a party, refusing to leave. An example could be a combat veteran experiencing flashbacks of battle scenes during peaceful moments.

6. Physical Symptoms: Headaches, stomachaches, muscle tension – your body can carry the weight of trauma. It's a silent conversation between your mind and body, sometimes expressing what words cannot. A person who survived a natural disaster might experience frequent headaches due to stress.

7. Negative Self-Perception: Trauma can make you see yourself in a harsh light. It's equivalent to wearing glasses that blur your self-image. For instance, a survivor of childhood abuse might struggle with feelings of unworthiness.

How to Improve Individually? 

But here's the good news - healing is possible. Emotional wounds can also be healed, just as physical wounds can.

Embrace Emotional Intelligence: You must take control of your emotional sensitivity and turn it into one of your strengths. In times of heightened emotion, practice deep breathing, although it's not easy. It's okay if you practice once every ten times. Keep trying. The positive impact will unconsciously increase the frequency of practice.

Gradual Exposure: Facing avoided situations in a controlled manner can help reduce avoidance. If someone avoids water due to a past near-drowning incident, they can start by gradually getting comfortable in shallow pools. 

Mind-Body Practices: Incorporate mindfulness, relaxation, and physical activities to alleviate physical symptoms. Practicing Yoga or meditation can prove to be of great help to soothe physical tension.

Challenge Negative Beliefs: Work on positive self-perception through self-compassion and self-esteem-building exercises. Begin with writing down any three things you appreciate or feel empowered in yourself each day.

Seek Professional Support: For anxiety, panic, trust issues, and intrusive thoughts, consider therapy or counselling. Just as someone might consult a doctor for a physical ailment, seeking professional help for mental health is just as valid. 

Types of Trauma Therapy Treatments

Numerous psychotherapeutic approaches are employed by mental health professionals to assist individuals in managing and recovering from trauma. They are:

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT):


  • Focus: Identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors related to trauma.

  • Approach: CBT helps individuals challenge and reframe harmful beliefs, making them more adaptable and reducing anxiety.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR):

  • Focus: Processing traumatic memories to reduce their emotional charge.
  • Approach: EMDR involves guided eye movements while focusing on traumatic memories, helping reprocess them from negative held belief about self to reframing to positive beliefs about self in the here and now. EMDR therapy helps a person to stop blaming themselves for the events that occur. 

Somatic Experiencing (SE):

  • Focus: Addressing physical and sensory responses to trauma.
  • Approach: SE helps individuals release stored trauma-related tension and sensations through body-focused techniques.

Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT):

  • Focus: Addressing trauma-related symptoms in children and adolescents.
  • Approach: TF-CBT combines cognitive-behavioral techniques with education and support for caregivers to help young individuals heal from trauma.

Psychodynamic Therapy:

  • Focus: Exploring the unconscious roots of trauma-related emotions and behaviors.
  • Approach: Psychodynamic therapy delves into the deep-seated influences of past experiences on current emotional struggles.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR):

  • Focus: Developing mindfulness skills to manage trauma-related stress.
  • Approach: MBSR teaches mindfulness meditation techniques to increase awareness of thoughts and emotions, promoting emotional regulation.

Amongst these, the most effective and helpful is EMDR therapy. This, in particular, has gained recognition for its effectiveness in treating trauma by targeting the reprocessing of traumatic memories. EMDR therapy is highly effective for a wide range of anxiety-based disorders, including panic disorders and depression. It is endorsed as a recommended treatment for PTSD by reputable organizations like the World Health Organization, American Psychiatric Association, and American Psychological Association. EMDR facilitates the reprocessing and distancing of distressing past memories and traumatic experiences. This therapy method actively engages with the brain's neurological pathways, aiding in the cessation of the fight, flight, or freeze response.


Just as we want to protect our children from harm, it's essential to nurture ourselves too and look after our well-being. Seeking support from professionals, friends, or support groups can make all the difference. Doing this together we can be successful in embracing healing and looking forward to the brighter days ahead. Your well-being is the only thing that matters.


Category(s):Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Complex PTSD, Mindfulness Meditation, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) / Trauma / Complex PTSD, Teenage Issues

Written by:

Reena Goenka

I am a Registered Counsellor and Clinical Supervisor with Singapore Association for Counsellors. I have 10 years of experience supporting and facilitating changes through various therapies to work with traumas, anxieties, childhood hurts and pain, negative beliefs about self and others, depression, PTSD, relationship issues, communication, and many more.