Trauma and its effect on adults

Niutoli Tuccu 
Rehabilitation Psychologist (RCI) 

As the world celebrates ‘May’ as World Mental Health Awareness month, I would like to bring into light what Trauma is, its causes and how it affects adults in general and how they respond to it Psychologically and Physically. 

Trauma is an incident where a person may witness or experience a shocking, dangerous or terrifying life threatening event, that may cause physical, emotional, spiritual, or psychological harm. It is where a person may feel physically threatened or extremely frightened as a result. It can disrupt individual’s daily life with depression, anxiety, anger, intense fear, flashbacks, nightmare, isolation, dramatic mood shifts, insomnia and paranoia. The traumatic experience could also affect and alter perceptions. This can lead to the belief that the world around them is unsafe and other people are dangerous or in extreme cases, create altered personalities to help them cope with the trauma. This leads to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD can cause an intense physical and emotional response to any thought or memory of the event. It can last for months or years following trauma. However, symptoms may not appear until several months or even years later. 

Causes Of Trauma: 

1. War 

2. Childhood abuse 

3. Domestic violence 

4. Natural disasters 

5. Severe illness or injury 

6. Threatened death experience 

7. Death of your loved ones 

8. Waking during surgery 

9. News about terminal illness 

10. Physical, sexual or psychological torture 

11. Childbirth experiences, such as losing a baby or excessive bleeding during delivery 

Physical And Psychological Trauma Response In Adults: 

Trauma may be the invisible factor stimulating those overwhelmingly intense feelings and causing an over-reliance on survival instincts, sometimes referred to as a trauma response. It is also the reflexive use of over-adaptive coping mechanisms in the real or perceived presence of a traumatic event. It is, when there is not any danger around, and you will still find yourself hyper-vigilant and activated, as if you are unable to return to a baseline of relative security. Some of the trauma responses are as follows: 

FLIGHT RESPONSE: Fleeing from the threat; 





Difficulty sitting still 

Obsessive Compulsive behavior 

FIGHT RESPONSE: Fighting back against the perpetrators or threat to survive; 


Anger Outburst 

Explosive behavior 

Narcissistic personality 

FREEZE RESPONSE: Freezing in the face of threat to avoid being further targeted by the Predator; 




Feeling stuck 


FAWN RESPONSE: Placating a caregiver or person in power to get basic needs met; 
Prioritise others 

No boundaries 


Lack of identity 

Over dependent 

People pleasing personality 





Mindfulness exercises 

Psychopharmacotherapy incase of psychosis 

Self-care, Exercises, Healthy and balanced lifestyle 

Most people experience a traumatic event at some point in their lives. Some may experience symptoms of shock and distress, some recover within a short period, yet some may experience in more long-term because the effects shows differently on different people. Practicing the above mentioned treatment planner may not at one go heal a person with PTSD but it will sure improve their quality of life. 

The writer runs a home based Counseling Service under the name NT_ Revivify Counseling Service at Thahekhu Village Dimapur Nagaland, and can be found in FB/IG under the mentioned service. She is also General Secretary of All Nagaland Counselor Association (ANCA).