Managing Trauma

Beyond Fight or Flight: Discover The Six Trauma Responses

Trauma can have a profound impact on our lives, and understanding how the brain reacts to psychological trauma is essential for our mental well-being. At Family Psychiatry & Therapy, we recognize the importance of addressing trauma and its various responses. In this article, we will explore the six main trauma responses, including fight, flight, freeze, fawn, fine, and faint. By familiarizing ourselves with these responses, we can gain self-awareness and better support our mental health.

The Six Main Trauma Responses

Everyone responds to trauma differently, and different types of trauma can elicit various responses in the same individual. Here are the six main trauma responses:

  • Fight: The fight response involves engaging in a series of attacks and defenses, whether verbally or physically, to confront the threat. It is an instinctive reaction aimed at protecting oneself.
  • Flight: The flight response entails escaping or avoiding the threat, both physically and emotionally. This can manifest as running away or using avoidance strategies to distance oneself from the traumatic experience.
  • Freeze: The freeze response occurs when the brain becomes overwhelmed by stimuli, leading to a state of paralysis. It is a momentary pause in which the next course of action is not immediately clear.
  • Fawn: The fawn response is a psychological reaction where the individual tries to appease the traumatic stimuli in an effort to make it stop. This response often involves accommodating the perpetrator or abuser.
  • Fine: The fine response involves denying or downplaying the impact of the trauma. It is an attempt to convince oneself that everything is okay and that they can handle the situation without acknowledging the distress.
  • Faint: The faint response refers to fainting or losing consciousness in response to a traumatic sight or event. It is a physical reaction triggered by a sudden drop in heart rate.

Understanding these trauma responses can help individuals recognize and validate their own reactions to trauma. It is important to note that no response is inherently right or wrong, as all trauma responses are valid.

The Role of Therapy in Trauma Recovery

While all trauma responses are valid, it is crucial to address trauma in therapy. Professional therapy provides a safe and supportive environment for individuals to explore the depths of their trauma and work toward healing and recovery. Here’s how therapy can help survivors of trauma:

  • Assessment: A licensed therapist can assess the extent of the trauma and its effects on the individual’s mental well-being. This assessment provides a foundation for developing an effective treatment plan.
  • Trauma-focused therapy: Therapists experienced in trauma treatment can employ evidence-based techniques such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), or Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) to address trauma-related symptoms and promote healing.
  • Emotional support: Therapy offers a safe space for survivors to express their emotions, fears, and concerns related to the trauma. A therapist can provide empathetic support, validation, and guidance throughout the healing process.
  • Coping strategies: Therapists can teach individuals practical coping strategies to manage distressing symptoms, regulate emotions, and develop resilience in the face of future challenges.
  • Post-traumatic growth: Therapy can help individuals find meaning and purpose beyond their traumatic experiences. It can facilitate personal growth, resilience, and the rebuilding of a fulfilling life.

Call Family Psychiatry & Therapy For Help Today

At Family Psychiatry & Therapy, we understand the profound impact of trauma on individuals and their families. Our licensed doctoral-level therapists are dedicated to providing compassionate and evidence-based care to survivors of trauma. If you or a loved one has experienced a traumatic event, whether recently or in the past, seeking therapy can be an essential step toward healing and finding peace. Contact us today at 201-977-2889 to schedule an appointment and begin your journey toward recovery. Remember, healing is possible, and support is available.

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Helene A. Miller / And Other Providers
Family Psychiatry and Therapy brings compassion, understanding, and skilled care to patients throughout New Jersey. Our team of mental health professionals focuses on providing a positive and uplifting experience that aids our patients in facing life’s toughest challenges.