Trauma impacts all aspects of a person’s well-being. Sometimes, physical symptoms can be caused by a traumatic experience or the aftermath of that stressful event. It is important for healthcare providers to consider that the root cause of some physical symptoms may be manifestations of post-traumatic stress. Trauma can also impact social well-being by creating lasting mistrust and affecting a person’s ability to form strong, healthy relationships. Psychologically, trauma can cause a person to have poor self image and self worth, as well as ongoing nightmares related to the traumatic event(s) they have experienced.
Long term impacts of adverse childhood experiences include development of mental illness, substance abuse, and other chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancers. Borderline personality disorder is often seen in people who have experienced some form of trauma in their past. This is a good example displaying how trauma can cause physical illness or symptoms that may be seemingly unrelated unless you take the time to learn more about the patient’s history.
In future nursing practice, I think it is important for me to remember that trauma affects everyone differently. I had never previously considered that past trauma could cause physical illnesses, so that was very interested to learn from the presentation. Learning to gauge how each individual responds to being questioned about sensitive topics and different approaches to it will be an ongoing skill. Some patients may be receptive and appreciative of having the opportunity to share their negative experiences, and some may be uncomfortable and more unwilling to expand on such topics. Patients are more than just their physical presentation and I should make the time to consider all pieces of their history that may be impacted their experiences today.