Trauma can occur as an emotional and physiological response to different types of circumstances, including accidents, natural disasters, assault and abuse. These responses can occur in a variety of symptoms as well, as will be mentioned in this article.
If you have gone through traumatic experiences in the past, you may have also gone through these responses and after-effects.
Effects of trauma can be severe and long-lasting, but healing and moving forward from this is possible.
Have you perhaps noticed a change in yourself and your relationships, after taking some time to move forward?
It is important to take a step back to evaluate where you are in terms of your trauma and your progress moving forward from it. You may even be healing without fully realizing how far you have come (American Psychological Association, n.d.).
Here are 5 signs you’re healing from trauma.
1. Improvements in physical health
Among the signs that you are healing from trauma, your body’s physical response may be the simplest to observe. Reactions to trauma can involve such effects as difficulties falling or staying asleep, notable changes in appetite, or even headaches, stomachaches, chest pains or other body pains.
Simply put, recovering from these ailments and physical changes could mean you are beginning to also heal from trauma. Even if your sleep hygiene or appetite are not completely healthy yet, if you have noticed improvements in sleeping and eating better (however gradual), or recovering from trauma-induced physical pains, then you may be healing from your trauma (American Psychological Association, 2013; Coping after disaster, 2019).
2. Healthier relationships
Trauma can also affect your relationships. You may have lost interest in things– including the people in your life–in response to your trauma, leading you to isolate yourself from others.
It is also possible that instead of isolation, you have had strained relationships due to frequent arguments with the people around you. From certain types of trauma (such as those developed from difficult childhood relationships with caregivers), it is also possible to develop a problem with boundaries. This may cause you to either mistake others’ boundaries for rejection, or to stretch your own boundaries into walls that shut people out. As healthy boundaries are an essential part of establishing healthy relationships, this would have likely caused complications for you.
Healing from trauma would then mean that you notice that the relationships around you are being restored, or that you are forming healthier and happier relationships. Depending on your personal experience in the past, this could mean that you no longer withdraw from others, that disagreements and conflict are not exhaustingly regular happenings for you anymore, and/or that you are able to recognize healthy boundaries for yourself and for others (American Psychological Association, 2013; Coping after disaster, 2019; Streep, 2019; Tull, 2020 & UPMC HealthBeat, 2019).
3. Recognizing and understanding triggers
Another difficult complication that can develop because of trauma is that certain cues in the environment may have triggered you in the past. This can certainly be debilitating, especially if your response to these triggers is severe.
Whether you have noticed it or not, you may have begun reacting to these triggers differently. It is important to take a minute to assess where you are now in terms of these triggers. Are you now better at recognizing, labeling, and even dismantling them? If so, you could be making great progress in healing from your trauma (Leaf, 2021; Streep, 2019).
4. Less intense or unpredictable emotions
Trauma may also have had you experiencing intense, possibly unpredictable emotions that felt almost impossible to manage. You might have felt intense feelings of anxiety, nervousness, grief, or feeling generally overwhelmed. You may have also felt more irritable or moody for a while.
Trauma based on past relationships may also have led to you feeling anxious about other people leaving or rejecting you. This may, in turn, also lead to you having emotional responses that ended up driving other people away.
If you have noticed a change in these types of feelings, you might be starting to heal. Perhaps you feel more calm and at peace, and have been beginning to feel less anxiety and less intense, more manageable emotions and reactions to others. Healing begins when your brain also begins to properly distinguish between which things and people around you are actually potentially harmful, and which are not. This will allow you to feel safer, calmer, and think more clearly (American Psychological Association, 2013; Coping after disaster, 2019; Streep, 2019 & UPMC HealthBeat, 2019).
5. Gaining skill at managing your emotions
Not only are you experiencing less intense, crushing emotions, but you may be getting better at managing the emotions that you do experience. With or without realizing it, you may have been getting better at labeling what kind of emotions you have. You might also be more skilled at anticipating situations that are stressful to you, as well as at managing your feelings. You might also have become more skilled at calming yourself down. You may also have a better understanding of your feelings and why you have them, which can then help with regulating them. You may feel that you have a better hold of yourself and your emotions overall, and even if this is happening in small, gradual steps, this is a sign that you are healing from your trauma (Leaf, 2021; Streep, 2019; Tull, 2020 & UPMC HealthBeat, 2019).
As previously mentioned, trauma can develop from different types of situations and circumstances, and it can manifest itself in different ways for different people, as well. Symptoms can be severe and debilitating. Fortunately, however, the right treatment (proper diagnosis and therapy) can help with this.
If you or anyone you know may be suffering from trauma, please do not hesitate to reach out to a qualified mental health professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.
American Psychological Association. (2013). Recovering emotionally from disaster. American Psychological Association. Retrieved December 15, 2021, from https://www.apa.org/topics/disasters-response/recovering
American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Trauma and shock. American Psychological Association. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/topics/trauma
Coping after disaster. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/coping-after-disaster-trauma
Leaf, C. (2021, December 5). 5 Signs you are healing. instagram.com. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/CXGpYnAOOf5/.
Phases of Trauma Recovery. UPMC HealthBeat. (2019, August 30). Retrieved December 15, 2021, from https://share.upmc.com/2019/08/phases-of-trauma-recovery-50ph/
Streep, P. (2019, August 9). 12 signs of healing from a toxic childhood. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/tech-support/201908/12-signs-healing-toxic-childhood
Tull, M. (2020, September 26). How you can cope with your symptoms after a traumatic experience. Verywell Mind. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/common-symptoms-after-a-traumatic-event-2797496#types