How Do I Know if I Have Trauma? (& Six Signs to Look For)

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Published Date|
July 30, 2022

How Do I Know If I Have Trauma? (& Six Signs to Look for)

We’ve all experienced difficult situations in our lives, some of which have had a lasting impact on us. But how do you know if what you experienced went beyond a difficult situation and could be considered traumatic?


Here at KMA, we understand how difficult it can be to recognize whether an experience may have been traumatic for you, and how to move forward if it was.

Feelings of trauma can be isolating, but you're not in this alone.

We're here to help you understand what you're experiencing in order to get the help you deserve.


In this article, you’ll learn about what is considered a trauma, events that can cause trauma, and how to recognize symptoms that can indicate trauma.

What is Trauma?

Any situation that overwhelms your thoughts, emotions, or body can be traumatic. Any event or interaction that causes intense fright and overwhelms your nervous system can be a trauma.

When we think of trauma, we often think of massive, life-changing events that change the course of people's lives.

You may be tempted to discredit your own experiences because other people have experienced something you see as "more difficult."

The truth is, people can experience trauma in different ways. A situation or event that is traumatic for one person may not be traumatic for another person.


When figuring out if a situation could have caused trauma, it’s most helpful to think about how the situation felt for you, rather than judging the situation itself.

What Events Can Cause Trauma? 

Although each person’s experience of a situation will be different, the following situations can cause trauma:

Singular Events that Cause Trauma

  • Assault
  • Accidents or injuries
  • Events in childhood that left you feeling scared or hopeless in the moment (even if they don’t seem like something that could cause trauma)

Persistent Stressful Situations that Cause Trauma

  • Pandemics
  • Natural Disasters
  • Battling a serious illness
  • Living in a neighbourhood with high crime rates

Frequently Overlooked Situations that Cause Trauma

  • Difficult break-ups
  • The death of a loved one
  • Having surgery early on in life
  • Events in childhood that left you feeling scared or hopeless in the moment (even if they don’t seem like something that could cause trauma)

signs of trauma in adults

Signs and Symptoms of Trauma in Adults

Whether a traumatic situation happened recently or in your childhood, it can affect you as an adult.

Six signs of trauma in adults are:

  1. Insomnia
  2. Muscle tension
  3. Anger and irritability
  4. Difficulty concentrating
  5. Feelings of hopelessness
  6. Feelings of anxiety and fear

These are all indications you may be experiencing symptoms of unresolved trauma.

Am I Overreacting?

It can be easy to tell ourselves that we should already be over an event or situation. It can be tempting to push our feelings down and deny the impact of what we’ve experienced.


Traumatic experiences can also build upon each other, meaning that experiencing a new traumatic situation can re-activate the same feelings from an older trauma.


It’s important to remember that you’re not overreacting and you’re not alone.


If you are struggling, you deserve the support that you need to heal and move forward.

How to Heal From Trauma

Recognizing that you’re experiencing symptoms from trauma is a great first step on your healing journey.

Five ways to heal from trauma include:


  1. Engaging with your feelings by journaling or completing a creative activity
  2. Finding others with similar experiences, such as joining a support group
  3. Giving yourself permission to rest and take breaks as needed
  4. Accepting support from loved ones and people you trust
  5. Connecting with a trauma-informed therapist

These suggestions can support you in healing from trauma.

Next Steps to Healing from Trauma

After reading this article, you now have an understanding of what can cause trauma, and how to recognize if you may have experienced something traumatic.


Here at KMA, we understand that unpacking trauma can be a scary and complicated process. Our team of therapists has the experience to help you explore events that may have been traumatic for you and create a plan to help you heal from them.


Book an appointment to start your therapy journey today, or contact our team for more information about our intake process.


If you’re not quite ready to speak to a mental health professional, read these resources to learn more:

About the Author

Emily Weatherhead has a Masters in Community Psychology from Wilfrid Laurier University, where her research focused on improving post-secondary student mental health. She is passionate about finding new ways to make mental health research more accessible and break down the barriers that prevent people from receiving mental health care.

Author |
Emily Weatherhead (Guest Author)
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