Trauma | Symptoms & Treatment Options | Zencare — Zencare


Not everyone who experiences a distressing event will develop symptoms related to trauma. But for many, living through such experiences can lead to mental health challenges that interfere with day-to-day life.

In some cases, these challenges are intense enough to qualify as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

What is trauma?

Definitions of trauma vary, but in general, trauma is considered to be a psychological reaction to an intensely distressing experience. These experiences can range from upsetting events like an accident or the loss of a loved one to more extreme events, such as rape, war, or natural disaster.

Prevalence of trauma

Because so many different kinds of experiences and mental health conditions are related to trauma, it’s difficult to be sure of its overall prevalence.  

However, the American Psychological Association estimates that approximately 50% of individuals will be exposed to at least one traumatic event over the course of their lives, and some sources put that figure even higher. Data on specific kinds of trauma shows that many forms are relatively common.

For example, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration notes that 15-25% of women experience sexual trauma and that 18.5% of returning veterans report symptoms of PTSD or depression.

The American Psychological Association also notes that women are about twice as likely as men to suffer from PTSD and that they often wait longer to seek help managing their symptoms.

Symptoms related to trauma vary widely, depending on the nature of the traumatic event and the individual’s personal reaction to it.

That said, some common symptoms of trauma include:

Types of trauma

Traumatic experiences can come in many forms, and again, not everyone who goes through these experiences will develop symptoms as a result. However, some common forms of psychological responses to trauma include:

If you’re experiencing mental health symptoms that may be related to trauma, you have a variety of options. They include:

How to find a therapist for trauma

Determine which approach appeals to you

A variety of treatment models can be helpful for challenges related to trauma. A few of the most common are as follows:

Prioritize personal fit

While personality fit is a nuanced factor, it is critical to your success in therapy. Multiple studies have revealed the importance of this factor, often referred to as “therapeutic alliance.”

On your initial phone call with the therapist, ask yourself:

Additionally, consider these factors:

New to therapy? Learn about how to find a therapist here.