May is Mental Health Month, and this year there is a focus on “healing trauma’s invisible wounds,” according to Mental Health America, the organization that promotes awareness of mental health issues (and the importance of good mental health) during this month.
The American Psychological Association website defines trauma as “an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape or natural disaster.”
The website states that it’s normal to feel denial and shock after a traumatic event, and sometimes long-term psychological and emotional reactions occur.
Examples of long-term effects are “unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships and even physical symptoms like headaches or nausea.” Even the long-term effects are typical, but it becomes an issue when people can’t continue comfortably living their lives due to trauma.
Some might refer to “trauma” as the actual devastating experience itself, although technically the word “trauma” is referring to the response to a traumatic event.
The National Institute of Mental Health website states that there is both physical and mental trauma.
“Physical trauma includes the body’s response to serious injury and threat,” according to the website. “Mental trauma includes frightening thoughts and painful feelings. They are the mind’s response to serious injury. Mental trauma can produce strong feelings. It can also produce extreme behavior.”
Trauma is complicated, and directly impacts mental well-being, since it can be a mental (not just physical) reaction to a traumatic event. People who suffer trauma have the potential of developing mental disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) eventually, although not all people do.
Experts shine more light on what trauma is, how it is linked to mental health, and what happens to different people who go through traumatic events.