Child experiencing traumatic stress - seeking support and healing

Traumatic Stress: How to Recognize It

Traumatic stress is something that can affect anyone. It can be the result of a single, catastrophic event or from enduring repeated or chronic traumatic experiences. While it’s normal to experience some stress after a traumatic event, for some people the stress doesn’t go away and may even get worse over time. This can lead to debilitating symptoms that interfere with daily life. In this blog post, we will discuss three ways traumatic stress presents and how to manage it.

Traumatic stress can manifest in a few ways emotionally, physically, and mentally. Accordingly, it’s important to know what it can look like in these three different forms.


People who are struggling with traumatic stress may feel on edge, irritable, or “keyed up” all the time. They may have difficulty sleeping or concentrating. And they may be easily startled or have an exaggerated startle response.

Physical symptoms of traumatic stress can include chest pain, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness


People who are struggling with traumatic stress may have a host of physical symptoms. These can include chest pain, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness, and gastrointestinal problems.


Traumatic stress can also take a toll on mental health. People may experience intrusive thoughts or memories of the event (known as flashbacks). They may have nightmares. They may also feel detached or estranged from others.

How To Manage Traumatic Stress

If you are struggling with any of the above symptoms, it’s important to seek professional help. A therapist who specializes in trauma can help you develop healthy coping mechanisms and work through your experiences. In the meantime, there are a few things you can do on your own to manage your stress.

  • Get plenty of rest: This may seem difficult if you’re struggling with insomnia, but it’s important to do what you can to get enough sleep. This may mean taking breaks during the day to rest or napping when you can.
  • Eat a healthy diet: Eating nutritious foods helps your body to heal and gives you the energy you need to cope with stress.
  • Exercise: Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. It can also help to reduce stress hormones like cortisol.
  • Avoid substances: Alcohol and drugs may seem like they offer some relief from stress, but they actually make symptoms worse in the long run.

Breathing Exercises That Can Help Trauma

  • Box breathing: This exercise is also known as square breathing. You inhale for four counts, hold your breath for four counts, exhale for four counts, and then hold your breath again for four counts.
  • Pursed lip breathing: This is a simple but effective way to calm the body and mind. You simply breathe in through your nose for two counts and then breathe out through pursed lips for four counts.
  • Belly breathing: This exercise helps to slow the heart rate and relax the body. Place one hand on your stomach and inhale deeply, allowing your stomach to expand. exhale slowly, feeling your stomach fall back in.

Children Psych provides individualized psychiatric mental health care in Orange, California.  Schedule an appointment today.