Restorations Therapy Blog

The Delayed Onset of Trauma

by on Friday, October 9th, 2020

trauma depression

The common belief about trauma is that once an experience has ended, a person develops symptoms as a result of the event. While this is true, symptoms do not always develop immediately after. In fact, delayed symptoms of trauma are quite common. Many people can feel that their trauma is invalidated because of its delayed onset of symptoms. Understanding the reasoning behind the delayed onset of trauma and how to cope with it can lead to better healing and less stigmatization.

What Does it Mean to Have Delayed Trauma Symptoms?

To have delayed trauma symptoms means that you went through a traumatic event and did not experience any symptoms related to it until at least six months after. However, not everyone develops symptoms right at the six-month mark. Delayed symptoms can appear even a year or more after the traumatic experience.

What Can Cause a Delayed Onset of Trauma?

Those that experience delayed symptoms often do experience some impact of the trauma following the event. However, the symptoms may not be enough to diagnose PTSD. The symptoms can become worse later if the person undergoes any distressing situations or another traumatic experience. This is when the delayed symptoms typically set in. 

This can happen because additional stress or traumatic experiences can hinder a person’s ability to cope with previous experiences. Thus, symptoms become more severe and the person experiences a delayed onset of trauma symptoms, enough for a PTSD diagnosis. 

Treating Delayed Trauma Symptoms

Each person experiences trauma symptoms in a different way. Some have symptoms that dissipate over time while others have persistent symptoms that may become more severe. Even if you do not initially meet the criteria for a PTSD diagnosis, treatment for PTSD can help you cope with what happened to you. 

The important thing to remember is to deal with what happened to you in a healthy and proactive way that involves talking about and healing from the event. This is the only way to truly heal, as suppressing memories of the event will only cause more harm. 

Trauma presents itself in many ways, including various situations, symptoms, and coping strategies. Some individuals experience symptoms of trauma directly following the traumatic experience while others have minimal symptoms until six months or more after the event. The reasons behind this may be that the person is able to cope with the event at the time and therefore only experience a few symptoms, not enough for a PTSD diagnosis. However, life stressors or additional trauma can trigger more severe symptoms. Treating these symptoms is best handled in a PTSD treatment program, even if you are not experiencing enough symptoms for a PTSD diagnosis. Experiencing a delayed onset of trauma does not make your experience any less valid than others’ stories. For more information on the delayed onset of trauma and how you can heal from it, call RestorationsTherapy today at (720) 446-6585.

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