5 Ways Trauma Might Change Behaviour

January 26th 2022

Trauma can be a tricky issue to diagnose, has innumerable causes, and manifests itself in many different ways, including physical, emotional, and behavioural.  Collins Wellness is a provider of Kamloops counselling services to people who have experienced trauma. It’s important to be aware that the severity of the trauma doesn’t necessarily relate to the severity of the effects. If you or a loved one has experienced any type of trauma that is causing unwanted behavioural changes, Robin Collins, M.SC., RCC, is here to help.

Trauma affects behaviour, often making life challenging for individuals and their loved ones. It doesn’t just go away and learning positive coping strategies is vital to healing. Robin can help, but knowing what to look for is an important first step. Here are 5 changes you might witness in the behaviour of a person who has experienced trauma:


Stress is a normal part of life. Before experiencing trauma, most people can handle normal amounts of daily stressors. Following trauma, fear and a sense of lacking control often leads to increased levels of anxiety. This anxiety may cause behavioural symptoms such as panic attacks and excessive worrying and fear that can lead to avoidance of both enjoyable activities and those less desirable, but necessary, in an effort to avoid stressors.


Post traumatic stress disorder may cause those affected to re-experience the traumatic event through intrusive thoughts, nightmares, and/or flashbacks. It can also cause people to become emotionally shut off or result in them becoming jumpy and irritable as they work to manage their continually increased state of arousal.


Coping with trauma is difficult – to put it mildly – and increases a person’s chances of turning to addictive behaviours, such as excessive drug or alcohol use, in an effort to self-medicate as a way to cope with their trauma.

Personality Disorders

Personality disorder is a broad term that encompasses a wide range of mental disorders that all result in rigid, unhealthy patterns of thinking and behaving. Developing these rigid behaviours may be part of a coping mechanism and often begin to emerge following a traumatic event.


Coping with the aftermath of trauma is exhausting and can be all-consuming. Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, low energy, and insomnia can result.

Trauma can cause issues in all areas of life; social-emotional and relational as well as micro  macro motor skills. These deficits often result in children (and adults as traumatized children grow up) struggling to function in "normal" society and if the struggles are big enough they may be diagnosed with a learning disability, or they will externalize their struggles and be labelled with conduct disorder, or they will internalize and perhaps turn to drugs/alcohol. Many developmental issues that result from trauma cause anxiety, depression, personality disorders, addiction, PTSD, and many other mental health disorders.

Trauma damages the brain, but there is always an opportunity to develop weaker areas of the brain. All is not hopeless. Counselling offers a way out. Learn more about Robin's approach to counselling and how trauma counselling might be helpful. For more information, consider reading her recent article, check out her Counselling Services, and contact her for a consultation.

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