Seeking Help with PTSD in Portland

Man and woman holding hands at a table

How Many People Experience PTSD in Portland?

Currently there is no data for the prevalence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for Portland, Oregon, so the best things we have to look at are the national data, estimates, and other relevant information. Some of the research shows that between 55-70% of the U.S. population will experience a trauma during their lifetimes; and that about 8% of the American population will develop PTSD in their lifetimes, with about 5% of the population experiencing PTSD right now. Current data suggests that cis-women develop PTSD at higher rates than cis-men, though some argue that this is a result of the fact that cis-men are more reluctant to report symptoms compared to cis-women. There is a lack of comprehensive data about non-binary and trans-folk with regards to gender statistics. Additionally, most researchers believe that due to stigma, mental health symptoms are under-reported. If we were to use the national estimates as conservative guidelines, it would suggest that over 32,000 people in Portland experienced PTSD in the last year.

What is the Difference Between Trauma and PTSD?

Trauma is simply an event that is beyond a person’s capacity to cope. Common traumatic events include: violence, abuse, sexual violence, acts of war, and natural disasters. There are many reactions that people may have to traumatic events, and not all result in PTSD. Common mental health issues that arise as a reaction to trauma include: anxiety disorders, depression, adjustment disorders, panic attacks, and agoraphobia, as well as PTSD.

PTSD is a condition that develops in response to a trauma, which includes 4 major types of symptoms: intrusive thoughts, avoidance behaviors, distortions in mood and cognition, and arousal symptoms. Sometimes PTSD has other symptoms as well, which are referred to as dissociative symptoms. The vast majority of people who experience a trauma do not develop PTSD, though some estimate that up to 20% of traumatic events lead to developing PTSD.

I Thought Only Soldiers Got PTSD

There is a long and extensive history of reactions to combat stress. Some of the earliest mentions of flashback-like dreams were documented in Ancient Greece, and there have been notations about this phenomenon throughout history. Psychology as a science developed in the 19th century, and in the aftermath of WWI the symptoms of PTSD were listed as shell shock.

As awareness throughout the 20th century grew and began including studies of holocaust survivors, victims of domestic violence, survivors of rape, and veterans of other wars, the scientific understanding has learned that severe reactions to trauma are not specific to combat, and can happen with any severe trauma.

Treatment for PTSD

With a supportive, trauma-informed therapist you can get great results with treatments. No two individuals are alike. This means that you should receive the care that is specific to you. Whether you have experienced trauma or are dealing with PTSD, therapeutic support can be life changing.

Do I Need Insurance to See a Therapist?

No. In fact, at Mindful Healing Portland LLC., we accept clients on a sliding scale. We are currently accepting clients for our sliding scale rates.

If you live in Portland or the Portland area and want information or help with PTSD and Trauma,



What is the Difference Between PTSD and Trauma?

Modern building hallway, unfocused background

You can experience Trauma without developing PTSD

Trauma is the name of an event that occurs that is beyond our physical, psychological, or spiritual abilities to cope. The responses we have to a trauma are considered traumatic reactions, sometimes these are temporary, others cause more significant adaptations. We can experience traumatic reactions in response to a trauma we experience directly, hearing about a trauma a loved-one experienced, or repeated exposure to others’ traumas. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a particular cluster of trauma reactions that a person develops as the result of one or more traumas.

There are countless events that can trigger trauma; being neglected, natural disasters, sexual assault, violence, or serious illness. While those that experience trauma might have behavioral, social or emotional issues following the event, they may be able to heal through a supportive social network, counseling, or professional therapy. Common mental health reactions to trauma include Anxiety, Depression, Acute Stress Disorder, PTSD, Adjustment Disorders. There are several more mental health conditions that correlate with trauma and many atypical reactions that may occur. These reactions can develop immediately or years after a traumatic event.

How do I know if I have PTSD?

It is best to get assessed by a mental health professional to determine whether you have PTSD or any other mental health disorder. If you’ve experienced a trauma and notice changes in your thinking, behavioral, emotional, or arousal, and it is causing you distress or impacting your functioning, it is wise to seek treatment to get help with whatever changes you are experiencing.

There are four types of symptoms that are present in people experiencing PTSD: Intrusion, Avoidance, Alteration in Mood or Thinking, and Arousal. People with PTSD experience at least one symptom from each cluster for more than a month, experience distress or reduced functioning as a result of the symptoms, and trauma is the cause of the symptoms. If you are experiencing all of the symptoms but it’s been less than a month, you may be experiencing Acute Stress Disorder (which can turn into PTSD if it doesn’t go away/goes untreated).

Intrusion Symptoms

  • Involuntary and recurring memories of the traumatic event
  • Repeated dreams or nightmares where the content or emotion is related to the traumatic event
  • Re-experiencing the event as though it was happening in the here and now; highest intensity can be full-blown flashbacks
  • Strong psychological distress when presented with reminders of the event
  • Strong physiological reactions when presented with reminders of the event

Avoidance Symptoms

  • Avoidance of (or efforts to avoid) distressing memories, thoughts or feelings about the trauma, or that relate to the trauma
  • Avoidance of (or efforts to avoid) external reminders of the event (people, places, objects, activities, situations) or elements that are closely associated with the event

Alteration in Mood and Thinking Symptoms

  • Amnesia ( an inability to remember an important aspect of the event, or the event in its entirety)
  • Persistent and exaggerated (or intensified) negative evaluations of the world, others, or the self (e.g., nobody can ever be trusted, the world is evil, I am horrible)
  • Persistent distorted thoughts about the cause or consequence of the trauma that cause a person to blame themselves or others for the traumatic event
  • Persistent negative emotional state; typical emotions include shame, guilt, fear, horror and anger
  • Loss of interest in activities that one normally enjoys
  • Feeling disconnected or detached from others
  • Inability to experience comfortable/enjoyable emotions like happiness, love, laughter or satisfaction

Arousal Symptoms

  • Increased irritability or angry behavior with little to no provocation
  • Explosive sadness or crying with little to no provocation
  • Impulsive, reckless, or self-destructive behavior
  • Consistently feeling keyed-up or tense
  • Feeling constantly on guard, or the need to never let one’s guard down
  • Heightened/exaggerated startle response
  • Problems with concentration or memory
  • Problems with sleep (falling asleep, staying asleep, staying awake)

Can you develop PTSD from someone else’s Trauma?

If a traumatic event occurs to someone you’re very close with, particularly when it happens very suddenly, you may have a traumatic reaction to it. Additionally, if your work involves repeated exposure to trauma (first responders, nurses, police officers, ER doctors, firefighters, etc.) you may also develop traumatic reactions. These experiences are called secondary trauma. Secondary trauma can lead to the development of PTSD.

How is PTSD treated?

There are many factors when treating PTSD including your specific symptoms and the event itself. There is both a need to treat the symptoms to make life more livable in the here and now, as well as treat the mindbody to heal in the long-run. Each treatment is tailored specifically to the individual. This means that, at Mindful Healing, we take time to determine the best way to help you. Asking for help is a sign of courage, and one of the first steps on your healing journey.

Do I need insurance to see a therapist?

No. In fact, at Mindful Healing Portland LLC., we accept clients on a sliding scale. We are currently accepting clients for our sliding scale rates.

If you live in Portland or the Portland area and want information or help with PTSD and Trauma,



What Causes Trauma?

little girl and fear

How do I know if I have been traumatized?

The technical definition of trauma is exposure to a distressing event that exceeds one’s ability to cope, or repeated exposure to averse events that collectively exceeds one’s ability to cope. That’s a rather broad definition and is inherently subjective, making it somewhat difficult to understand. For example, events like driving in the snow in Portland may be overwhelming for some but not others. Because the experience of trauma is based on each of our unique reactions to stress, there is no standard list of events that are guaranteed to be traumatic.

Generally, you can tell if you have been traumatized by changes in your thinking, memory, behavior, emotions, and bodily reactions. Typically, these changes occur within 3 months of an event, but sometimes they can take several years to develop. There is no specific timeline on the development or symptoms of trauma.

What are the symptoms of trauma?

Symptoms of trauma tend to be broken down into five categories: Intrusion symptoms, Avoidance symptoms, Mood and Cognitive symptoms, Arousal symptoms, and Dissociative symptoms. People who have been traumatized may experience all of the symptoms, or just a few.

Intrusion Symptoms

  • Repeated involuntary memories of the event(s) that are distressing
  • Repeated distressing dreams in which the content or emotion are related to the event(s)
  • Flashbacks
  • Intense or prolonged mental or emotional distress when reminded of the event
  • Notable physiological reactions to any reminders of the event (extreme tenseness, panic, need to run away and shaking are common examples)

Avoidance Symptoms

  • Avoidance or efforts made to avoid memories, thoughts, or feelings associated with the event
  • Avoidance or efforts to avoid outside reminders of the event (people, places, conversations, situations, activities that are associated with the event)
  • Common avoidance behaviors include physically avoiding, refusing to engage, using distractions, or using substances

Mood and Cognitive Symptoms

  • Amnesia (inability to remember the event)
  • Persistent and exaggerated negative beliefs or expectations about oneself
  • Persistent and exaggerated negative beliefs about the others and the world
  • Distorted thoughts about the cause or consequence of the event(s) which cause the person to blame themselves
  • Struggling with negative emotional state (e.g., fear, shame, guilt, anger, horror, sadness, emptiness, irritability)
  • Loss of interest in normal activities
  • Feeling detached or estranged from others
  • Difficulty experiencing positive emotions like joy, love, or satisfaction

Arousal Symptoms

  • Sleep disturbances (difficulty falling, or staying asleep, restless sleep, insomnia)
  • Feeling keyed-up and tense, excessive wariness, feeling the need to always know what’s going on around you, having a quick/exaggerated startle response
  • Problems with concentration and memory
  • Explosive sadness that seems to come from nowhere or with little provocation
  • Irritable behavior, angry outbursts (with no or little provocation); this can be expressed as verbal or physical aggression towards other people or objects
  • Reckless or self-destructive behavior (e.g., excessive drug use, self-injury, dangerous driving, suicidal behavior)

Dissociative Symptoms

  • Disconnecting from the body, thoughts, feelings, sense of self, or memory
  • Depersonalization: Experience of feeling disconnected from the body; some people describe this as if they were watching their life as a movie from behind their eyes, or feeling like they are walking through a dream, or that time seems to be very slow
  • Derealization: Experience that the outside world seems fake, distorted, unreal or like a dream

Beyond these list of symptoms, it is not uncommon for people who have experienced trauma to also have challenges with the physical issues of headaches (including migraines), TMJ, feeling cold, and digestive problems.

What causes psychological trauma?

Psychological trauma can be caused by a single event or multiple distressing events. We can be exposed to trauma by directly experiencing it, witnessing it, learning about events that happened to someone close to us or a loved one (indirect trauma), or repeated exposure to secondary trauma (this is a challenge faced by EMTs, police officers, doctors, etc.).

Events that often lead to traumatic reactions include, but are not limited to:

  • Exposure to acts of war or violence, terrorism, school shootings, torture, being kidnapped or taken hostage
  • Threatened or actual physical assaults (mugging, fights, domestic abuse)
  • Threatened or actual sexual violence (rape, molestation, drug-induced sexual experiences, sex-trafficking, etc.)
  • In children, sexually violent behavior may include developmentally inappropriate sexual behavior that was done without physical contact
  • Natural and man-made disasters
  • Major accidents, catastrophic medical events (waking during surgery, anaphylactic shock)

Typically, when talking about indirect trauma, it involves an event that occurred to a loved one that was sudden, severe, or violent. For example, learning about a loved one’s suicide may cause a traumatic reaction, though if a loved one died by natural causes that would typically cause grief.

What if I suffered from childhood trauma?

The results from childhood trauma can be long-lasting, though still treatable. Children who experience trauma are more likely to experience developmental problems in later years and adulthood.

Common developmental challenges people with childhood trauma face are: concentrating in school or adulthood, reckless behavior, issues controlling temper, problems developing healthy boundaries in relationships, and acting out their trauma throughout life. It is common for people who grew up in an abusive household to date and marry people who are also abusive. Children who were sexually molested may display sexually inappropriate behavior as a child or in adulthood. Many times children who were traumatized can be misdiagnosed with ADHD. Childhood trauma also tends to increase the risk of developing a mental health disorder later in life, behavioral issues, or committing suicide.

Is all trauma direct or indirect within our lifespan?

Research is starting to show that trauma is not limited to just what happens to us. As psychology as a discipline in science grows, along with the discovery of epigenetics, we are learning that trauma can be intergenerational, or transgenerational. Research shows that communities exposed to war or genocide tend to pass on genes which increase the next generation’s susceptibility to low birth weights, stress, trauma, mental health issues, physical health issues, and chronic disease development. Research has gone on to show that this does not just happen from parent to child, but across multiple generations.

What are some other long-term effects of trauma?

Trauma as a whole makes us more susceptible to the development of mental and physical health issues. The experience of trauma correlates with the development of depression, anxiety, psychosis, addiction issues, personality disorders, chronic disease, heart-disease, respiratory-disease, and chronic pain.

When should I seek professional help for trauma?

If you have tried to heal yourself from trauma and are still feeling fear, anxiety or depression, it is a good idea to seek professional help. Even if you aren’t experiencing the symptoms, the research shows that early interventions tend to lead to better long-term prognoses with trauma. When your symptoms make your life at home, in relationships, personal development, or work difficult, it is a good idea to seek help.

What can therapy do for trauma?

Therapy can help with managing/reducing symptoms, healing long-term wounds, and helping you navigate life in a healthier way. In therapy, we can evaluate how trauma has affected the mindbody, teach coping skills, and learn methods to bring calm and relaxation into the mindbody. If you think you are struggling with traumatic reactions it is important to find a therapist who provides trauma-informed care.

Do I need insurance to see a therapist?

No. In fact, at Mindful Healing Portland LLC, we accept clients on a sliding scale. We are currently accepting clients for our sliding scale rates.


If you live in Portland or the Portland area and want information or help with Trauma,



Counseling for Trauma in Portland

What is trauma?

Trauma can be quite a loaded word, it means different things to different people. When talking about trauma with regards to mental health, it refers to a stressful event that exceeds one’s ability to cope (whether that’s our physical, psychological, social, or spiritual coping skills). This means our experience of a traumatic event is inherently personal; each person’s interpretation of stress and capacity to cope is different than everyone else’s, and our coping capacities change over time. A trauma can happen directly to you, be something that you witnessed, or even something that you heard about.

Trauma reactions can be physical, cognitive (in thought processes), emotional, or psychological. They are diverse, they can be intense, confusing, or debilitating. Common reactions to a trauma include feelings of helplessness, a diminished sense of self, or feeling keyed-up and tense. Other common reactions include fatigue, explosive, or diminish your ability to feel a full range of emotions. Sometimes trauma reactions disconnect the mind from the body, create a desire to isolate from others, create feelings of confusion, or cause anxiety.

Are there different types of trauma?

When we talk about trauma, we can think about trauma as being direct, or indirect. When we experience a direct trauma, the traumatic event directly happened to us. When we talk about indirect trauma that typically means we were exposed to the trauma by learning about it afterwards or from someone else.

There are all sorts of direct traumas. A surgery can be a type of trauma, and it is not uncommon after a surgery to experience a brief depressive episode. Witnessing a cyclist getting hit by a car in downtown Portland can be traumatic. Experiencing an act of sexual assault or violence can also be traumatic. Any stressful event that happens to you and overwhelms your ability to cope is a direct trauma.

Likewise, there are all sorts of types of indirect trauma (this is also commonly referred to as secondary trauma.) When a loved one tells us a harrowing story that happened to them, that can be traumatic. Reading about a nasty incident happening on the MAX in Portland can be traumatic. It is common in the medical field for doctors, nurses, therapists, and other health professionals to experience secondary trauma because the people they treat have been exposed to trauma. In some ways, trauma can be a communal response to a tragedy that has happened to someone within our community.

Are trauma reactions always the result of a singular event?

Traumatic reactions may stem for a singular event, or from repeated exposure to multiple stressful events in our lifetimes. Sometimes we are exposed to one incredibly stressful event, and that may result in developing acute stress symptoms or trauma related disorders, like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Adjustment Disorder.

Likewise, experiencing a number of stressful events throughout our lifetime can cause trauma reactions. Think about this like the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Each of the stressful events in one’s lifetime on their own may not be traumatic, but the culmination of stressful events over time can in itself cause trauma reactions. This is often referred to as Complex Trauma.

What are the symptoms of trauma?

Symptoms of trauma can be quite diverse and change from person to person. Symptoms can be psychological, physical, emotional, and behavioral. Symptoms of trauma can be uncomfortable, cause distress, or impair functioning. Sometimes they result in clinical disorders.

Common emotional symptoms for trauma include sadness, anger, fear, guilt, worry, anxiety, shame, wariness, and irritability. Sometimes emotional reactions can be very sudden, without a seeming rhyme or reason, this includes bouts of crying or explosive anger that seems to come from nowhere.

Some common physical symptoms of trauma can include nausea, fatigue, dizziness, challenges with sleep, changes in appetite, headaches, muscle-tension, feeling keyed-up and tense, feeling cold, having the shakes or jitteriness, dissociative experiences, and gastrointestinal problems. With sleep, some challenges can include problems falling asleep, problems staying asleep, problems staying awake, insomnia, or hypersomnia.

Common psychological symptoms of trauma include intrusive thoughts and memories, difficulty with concentration, confusion, difficulty making decisions, distorted thought patterns, racing thoughts, feeling blank minded, nightmares, difficulty with relationships, or dissociative types of reactions. Dissociative symptoms refer to when the mind feels disconnected from the body (some people describe this feeling as if they were watching their life through a movie), or when the world around us feels fake.  

Adults can develop the following trauma disorders: Acute Stress Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Adjustment Disorders. Traumatic events can also lead to the development of Mood Disorders like Depression or Anxiety, or other complications with mental and physical health.

How does Portland, Oregon fit in?

Just like anywhere else in the world or the country, we here in Portland will be exposed to trauma. Unfortunately, we do not have access to good statistics about the prevalence of PTSD, and the experience of traumatic events here in Rip City. What we do know is that various studies nationwide suggest that about 60 to 70 percent of Americans will experience at least one major traumatic event in their lives, and about 8 percent of adults have PTSD at any given time. Oregon has the 16th highest rate of suicide in the country, another indicator that people in this state are struggling with the after-effects of trauma.

What can therapy do for trauma?

Therapy can do a lot for healing from and coping with trauma. In the context of therapy at Mindful Healing Portland LLC, we take a holistic approach. This involves creating a safe space to ground and work through trauma. In therapy, we can assess how trauma has affected the mindbody, teach grounding skills to work with somatic challenges (physical reactions), to bring more calm and relaxation into the body. We work on navigating changes in thinking and emotions, and identify coping mechanisms to develop some regulation in the mindbody, and ultimately work to heal psychic wounds. If you think you are struggling with traumatic reactions it is important to find a therapist who provides trauma-informed care.

Do I need insurance to see a therapist?

No. In fact, at Mindful Healing we accept clients on a sliding scale. We are currently accepting clients for our sliding scale rates.


If you live in Portland or the Portland area and want information or help with Trauma,



Trauma and the Lasting Psychological Impact of the Current U.S. Border Policy

President Trump and his administration’s “zero tolerance policy” of migrants coming to the U.S. borders has separated thousands of children from their families. There are thousands of documents of abuse and neglect, reports of denying children the right to hug their siblings, and reports of children held naked, handcuffed and beaten. The current suffering has led parents to commit suicide. The trauma will last for generations.

What is Psychological Trauma?

Psychological trauma is a type of damage to the mindbody that happens as a result of either a singular distressing event – or a multitude of stressful events over time – that exceeds our ability to cope. This can include (but isn’t limited to): forced separation from one’s parents, physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, isolation, accidents, natural disasters, oppression, bullying, abandonment, or neglect. In fact, you can experience psychological trauma just by witnessing or learning about an event. In the case of secondary trauma, exposure to someone who has been traumatized becomes traumatic.

The Scars of Trauma

The basics of our stress response system is our fight-or-flight reaction. The mindbody can take this to extremes during traumatic events. When flight to safety isn’t possible, flight from the present can be the next step. In such cases the mind may detach from the body, turn inward, and withdraw from its connection to the present moment. If the fight instinct is activated it can project immense energy outward, expressed in tension, explosive emotions (like anger), thoughts, and behaviors in order to gain control.

When psychological trauma occurs the mind undergoes some fundamental changes in its assumptions of reality. The mind may learn lessons like: the world is unsafe, other people are threats, or that the self does not have the tools to cope with reality. The mind may rationalize that such traumatic events occur because the Self is evil, unloveable, incomplete, or deserving of trauma. These narratives shift people’s worldview and connection with the Self and as a result they become very sensitive to any sign of potential threats including: feeling trapped, close connections to others, isolation, or any physical, mental, or emotional reminders of the trauma.

As a whole psychological trauma disturbs thinking patterns, arousal, concentration, memory, sleep, appetite, attachment, and energy. Psychological trauma also makes the autonomic nervous system more sensitive to stressors, which makes it more difficult for people to regulate and self-soothe. Trauma can disrupt every phase of life. Below is a general list of acute stress symptoms, note that some people may only present with a few symptoms while others with many.

• Recurrent memories, thoughts, dreams, or nightmares that are about, or related in content to, the traumatic event(s)

• Flashbacks, feeling disconnected from body (some people describe it as though they are watching their life as it were a movie)

• The feeling that the world is fake/an illusion, or lack of awareness of surroundings.

• Attempts to avoid distressing thoughts, memories, emotions, or reminders about the event.

• Negative alterations of thoughts and mood. Inability to experience positive emotions

• Persistent negative beliefs or expectations about oneself or the world.

• Persistent negative emotional states: fear, horror, anger, guilt, sadness, shame, irritability.

• Loss of interest or reduced participation in normal activities

• Feeling detached or estranged from others.

• Amnesia about the events

• Explosive anger, irritability, or sadness/crying outbursts with little or no provocation.

• Reckless or self-destructive behaviors. Substance use to self-medicate.

• Feeling keyed up, tense, the need to know everything going on, constant worry

• Exaggerated startle responses

• Problems with concentration, or memory

• Impairment in social, work, school, family or other realms of functioning.

Everyone Experiences Traumatic Events, Why Doesn’t Everyone Have the Symptoms?

Not everyone who experiences traumatic events will develop psychological trauma. Genetics, environment, experience, coping mechanisms, vulnerability factors, and resources all play a role as far as how susceptible to trauma a person is.

Risk Factors Include

• Social Isolation of Families

• Not getting developmental needs met

• Poverty, economic disadvantage

• Family disorganization, dissolution, or violence

• Emotionally, physically, or sexually abusive caretakers

• Parental stress, Family History of Abuse

• Community Violence

• Parents/Grandparents were Traumatized

• Previous Exposure to Traumatic Events

Protective Factors Include

• A supportive and nurturing home environment

• Dependable and stable family relationships

• Receiving healthy affection

• Higher Socioeconomic Status

• Economic Stability

• Adequate housing

• Caring adults inside and outside family who provide nurture and act as role models

• Access to health care and community support

As for the thousands of migrants currently being held in detention, they come from areas where they are at an economic disadvantage, victims of violence, and are having a lack of family continuity. This means that the migrants who come to the U.S. borders are at elevated risk of experiencing trauma, and that the current policies remove protective factors and increase the risk of psychological trauma.

Impact of Trauma on Attachment and Relationships

People who have unhealed psychological trauma tend to have problems with interpersonal relationships. One challenge is that trauma interferes with people from communicating emotions in a socially acceptable manner. Trauma itself can prevent people from experiencing humor or joy. Emotions like sadness, anger, guilt, or anxiety are often interpreted by the mindbody to be a threat (as they are associated bad experiences) and thus can set off even more explosive reactions or a dissociative (withdrawing) responses. This makes it very difficult for people with psychological trauma to interact with others.

People who have unhealed psychological trauma tend to have problems with attachment. Some people who have experienced trauma try to keep people at a distance, for fear of being too vulnerable. Romantic relationships and friendships involve a certain level of intimacy. If someone developed the narrative that other people are dangerous, becoming close to someone is a threatening proposition. Alternatively, if someone incorporated the idea that they are unloveable, becoming closer to people means that those people might find out how unloveable they are, which represents the threat of abandonment. Withdrawal, flight, irritability, betrayal, and anger are often great tools for keeping people at a distance,

Other trauma reactions are to pull people in close. People who experience neglect, isolation, or abandonment as a trauma might cling closely to those who they connect with, for fear of abandonment again. Anxiety, worry, excessive kindness and even self-harm are frequently tools used to try deepen connections. Unfortunately, such reactions usually push people away. Other people experience a confusing mix of both reactions where they both crave and fear closeness to others. This process is sometimes referred as disorganized attachment.

People who experience psychological trauma are more likely to enter into abusive relationships. They tend to have more problems with romantic relationships, friendships, and authority figures compared to other people. Given the trauma of loss of family, the abuse by jailers, and the horrors faced at home, the children being held in detention facilities here in the U.S. are more likely to develop all of these social problems.

The Impact of Trauma on Learning

Psychological trauma causes problems with thinking clearly, reasoning, and problem solving. The traumatized mind’s default is crisis mode. It has learned that the world is unsafe and needs to be aware of potential threats. It does this by identifying and criticizing problems of the past, analyzing potential threats in the present, or anticipating catastrophes of the future. As a result people who have experienced trauma have problems staying calm, regulating behavior, and learning new information.

All of this brain activity makes it incredibly difficult to concentrate, let alone navigate the rigors of education. Children who have a history of trauma demonstrate developmental delays, learning difficulties, and behavioral problems in school. Without an intervention they are less likely to achieve in the academic realm, and more likely to have problems achieving stable, high paying employment.

The children being held in detention already had a socioeconomic disadvantage when they arrived at the U.S. border. The current policy and environments these children and their parents are being held in makes it worse. Remember, some of the risk factors for developing psychological trauma include economic disadvantage and having parents who experienced trauma. The current policy of treating immigrants like prisoners is more likely to create psychological trauma not just for those being held, but also their future children. This type of policy manufactures inter-generational trauma.

Impact of Trauma on Mental Health

In short, psychological trauma is bad for mental health. The negative worldview, self-view, and hyper-arousal trauma creates leads to all sorts of mental health issues. People who have a history of psychological trauma are more prone to volatile, oppositional, and extreme behaviors. Emotionally they tend to be prone to defensiveness, aggression, spaciness, and difficulty regulating emotions. They are also more likely to demonstrate dangerous behaviors like self-harm, unsafe sex, recklessness, substance use, and suicide. There is plenty of data which demonstrates that childhood trauma alters brains development.

Children who experience trauma are more likely to develop the following types mental health disorders later in life: Schizophrenia (and other psychotic disorders), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depressive Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, Eating Disorders, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and Personality Disorders. As a clinician who has worked on healing with hundreds of people who navigate hallucinations, delusions, or personality disorders I have yet to meet a person experiencing such a disorder that was not exposed to childhood trauma.

Poor mental health does not just cause psychological suffering and problems with functioning, it is associated with increased risk of physical health issues as well. People with mental health issues are at increased risk for heart-disease, diabetes, and inflammatory conditions. People diagnosed with serious mental illness (schizophrenia spectrum, bipolar disorder, or severe depression) have a decreased life expectancy by 20 years.

Impact of Current Policies as a Whole

In this article we explored the nature of psychological trauma, its effects on the mindbody, and the long-term outcomes. The Trump administration’s current policies are traumatic acts that will cause lasting harm. Indefinite detention, keeping people in cages, and family separation, of migrants who are already fleeing violence will cause the development mental and physiological health problems. These policies are likely to cause economic and academic, and long-lasting inter-generational trauma. It is impossible to tell the totality of suffering this is creating now. Reuniting families, ending indefinite detention, and creating humane solutions that involve healing, nurturing, and hope is essential for our collective health in the present and the future.