Symptoms of Trauma
Psychic trauma is a psychological condition caused by overwhelming stress
that cannot be controlled by normal coping mechanisms. It can result from a number of situations in addition to child abuse, including war or battlefront experience, natural disasters, being held hostage and being in the middle of a bombing, hijacking or shootout. Perhaps the most common symptom of such traumatic exposure is panic attacks involving hyperventilation and severe anxiety. These can be triggered by anything your senses associate with your past abuse. Insomnia, sleepwalking, nightmares and night terrors (a more extreme type of nightmare occurring during non-dreaming sleep cycles) are other signs of unresolved trauma of some sort.
Many adult survivors don't show signs of psychic trauma until years after the abuse ends. When they do show signs, survivors often report feelings of extreme anxiety, panic, general fearfulness and disorientation. In the most extreme cases, survivors may evidence dissociation (splitting of mind and body), numbing of the body and intrusive, repetitive thoughts and flashbacks to the abuse episode(s). The appearance of these symptoms lets you know that your psyche is still trying to resolve conflicts associated with your past abuse. There is growing evidence that survivors of extreme and prolonged child abuse are susceptible to developing multiple personalities as a means of self-protection and that child abuse may be the major cause of multiple personality disorders.
When any signs of trauma are noticed, the best suggestion is to get immediate help. Turn to members of your support network, trusted family and friends and your therapist, if you have one. If you experience any of the more severe trauma symptoms such as dissociation, we strongly encourage you to seek professional help. If you feel totally unable to function, you may need medication or hospitalization to control the anxiety. The goal during this time is to make sure you are safe and protected and to minimize the possibility of your hurting yourself.