Understanding the Connection Between Trauma and Mental Illness

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Trauma is a part of the human experience. While some people experience only mild traumas, others are affected by more severe events. Trauma can happen to anyone, from childhood abuse to terrorist attacks. Say’s Dr. Charles Noplis, if you have experienced trauma, it’s important that you know how it affects your mental health.

The effects of trauma

Trauma is a mental or emotional injury that results from an exceptionally stressful event. Traumatic events can be physical, such as an accident or assault, but they also include things like witnessing violence or experiencing sexual abuse.

When you experience trauma, your brain tries to process the event by storing it in memory and creating associations between certain cues and emotions related to the experience (e.g., loud noises may remind you of fireworks). This helps us avoid situations similar to those where we were hurt before–but if these associations are negative enough, they can become overwhelming for our brains and lead us into cycles of anxiety and depression when triggered by similar circumstances later on.

How do we connect trauma and mental illness?

It’s important to understand that trauma can lead to mental illness, but it’s not the only cause. Mental illness can also cause trauma and both may be caused by other factors.

A person who has experienced a traumatic event may develop PTSD or another mental health condition as a result of their experience. In addition, someone who already had a diagnosable mental illness prior to experiencing trauma may experience more severe symptoms after experiencing a traumatic event. For example: If you have depression before being exposed to sexual abuse or assault (a type of trauma), your symptoms will likely increase after this incident occurs because it triggers memories related to past experiences with abuse or assault that are stored in your brain as memories called “flashbacks.”

What are the signs of a connection between trauma and mental illness?

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts and ideation (i.e., thinking about suicide)
  • Self-harm behaviors, such as cutting or burning one’s skin

What kinds of symptoms can be linked to trauma?

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)


Trauma can have a lasting effect on people, and it’s important to be aware of the signs. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of trauma, please seek help immediately. There are many resources available to help those who have been through difficult experiences.

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