Misunderstanding Behaviors Related to Trauma

Misunderstanding Behaviors Related to TraumaPeople who survive trauma may experience biological and psychological changes that cause them to react to stress in negative ways. These behaviors can be troubling and confusing, but counseling can help reduce anxiety and help individuals move on from traumatic experiences.

How Trauma Affects Behavior

Trauma occurs when a person experiences a life-threatening event(s): sexual assault, combat, natural disaster and car crashes can all cause trauma. Trauma may lead to constant feelings of fear and increased anxiety, short-term memory loss and emotional mood swings. The three main symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are as follows:

  • Impulsive behavior – Those suffering from past trauma may make snap decisions without thinking about the long-term effects. This may manifest as drinking to calm nerves or leaving a situation abruptly to avoid memories of trauma.
  • Numbing behavior – An individual may use drugs or alcohol to avoid thinking about the trauma, or she may push people away who she was previously close to. Patients may have trouble with emotions and avoid conversations or places that remind them of the trauma.
  • Emotional behavior – The amygdale is the part of the brain that controls emotion, and it may be enlarged after a traumatic event—this can change behavior. Anger and mood swings may occur as individuals instinctually attempt to prevent the trauma from occurring again.

Individuals who have experienced trauma may not realize their unusual behavior is due to the aftereffects, and may not know how to process difficult emotions and memories.

How Misunderstanding Behavior Related to Trauma May Lead to Substance Abuse

When a person experiences trauma, many of the reactions happen on a neurological level. This may alter behavior and prevent thinking about the trauma directly, which may make it more difficult to realize the behavior is due to the trauma. Being unable to talk about trauma may cut people off from others and lead to depression. Individuals exhibiting these behaviors often feel guilty and internalize their feelings; also, they may turn to alcohol or substance abuse as a way to cope. The emotional and behavioral symptoms make an individual more susceptible to addiction, which will make dealing with trauma more difficult and lead to other mental and physical health issues.

Find Treatment for Addiction and Trauma

If you suffer from trauma and/or struggle with an addiction, we can help. Addiction treatment and counseling can help you process painful events and find healthy ways to deal with troubling behavior and anxiety. Call our 24 hour, toll-free helpline now to learn more about treatment that will work for you.

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