What is trauma?

Trauma can be the result of a very stressful event or multiple events that damage our sense of security. It can make you feel helpless and as if you are living in a dangerous world. This can have a big impact on our mental and physical health as well as our emotional, social, and spiritual wellbeing.

Some examples of traumatic events may include abuse, assault, accident, injury, sudden health problems, as well as large scale events like natural disasters and war. It’s important to know trauma is both the negative experience and the response to a traumatic event. It is also highly personal. Two people can experience the same or similar event, but they can have a very different response to it. Some people may have a traumatic response to a single event and others may have a buildup effect of several or ongoing traumatic experiences.

What does trauma feel like?

We all react differently to different situations.  A trauma response is most often a ‘typical’ response to a situation that isn’t normal.  You may have experienced the following feelings:
  • Shock, denial, or disbelief
  • Confusion or difficulty concentrating
  • Anger, irritability, or mood swings,
  • Fear, anxiety, or feeling on edge
  • Guilt, shame, and blame
  • Withdrawing from other people
  • Feeling sad or hopeless
  • Feeling disconnected from others or numb to situations
You may also experience physical symptoms such as:
  • Insomnia, nightmares, or flashbacks
  • Feeling very tired or having a lack of energy
  • Scared easily
  • Racing heartbeat without exercising
  • Muscle tension, aches, and pains

When is trauma a problem?

Recovering from traumatic experiences takes time. There is a lot of ongoing support available to help people process and heal from a traumatic event. If the experiences listed above last for more than a couple of weeks or are interfering with your ability to carry out day-to-day tasks, reach out for help. People can develop depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) if they do not treat ongoing symptoms. Trauma treatment is effective and you do not have to suffer alone.

Resources for Coping with Trauma

Help Lines

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline 24/7 free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24/7.

Help Lines

Behavioral Health Services Navigation Line

When you call the Intermountain Behavioral Health Services Navigation line, you can expect to talk to someone who can help you access your needs and connect you with the right resources.


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Read the National Institute of Mental Health's article about post-traumatic stress disorder including signs, symptoms, and risk factors.


Coping With Traumatic Events

Read the National Institute of Mental Health's article on coping with traumatic events, including warning signs and how to get help.


7 Tools for Managing Traumatic Stress

Read this blog post from the National Alliance on Mental Illness to learn how to manage trauma-related stress.


Treatment Locator

The Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator sponsored by the Subtance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration can you help you anonymously seek behavioral health treatment anywhere in the United States.

Mobile Apps

myStrength App

For self-guided mental health, access myStrength for free with registration code INTERMOUNTAIN. Download the app on Apple App Store/Google Play or:

Intermountain Services

Connect Care: Behavioral Health

Connect Care virtual appointments can be done anywhere in Utah, Idaho, or Nevada using your smartphone, tablet, or computer.