Feel Better

Trauma Symptoms Checklist

These checklists will help you identify your emotional, psychological, and physical symptoms of trauma.

Physical Symptoms

On the list below, check any of the physical symptoms that you have experienced that are not better explained by another illness or condition. Be curious with yourself. You are simply expanding your awareness of yourself and your physical responses. Your body has worked hard to keep you safe, so do not judge yourself. Merely be appreciative and know that recognizing these is the first step to finding some relief.

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Migraines and/or frequent headaches
  • Autoimmune disorders (e.g., Hashimoto’s disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Frequent back and/or joint pain
  • Frequent muscle tension
  • Frequent bouts of shivering and/or shaking
  • Bouts of energy and/or feeling an adrenaline rush that seems out of context
  • Lethargy, struggling to get motivated, or lack of energy to complete things that need to be done
  • Feeling jittery or easily startled
  • Nightmares and/or night terrors
  • Somatic pain (e.g., vaginal discomfort that is triggered by a memory of past sexual abuse)
  • Bed-wetting or wetting or soiling oneself with urination and/or feces
  • Being triggered by certain smells, sights, images, sensations, noises, and/or sounds

Take a moment and reflect on any questions, insight, or awareness that this checklist brought to mind.

Emotional and Cognitive Symptoms

As a result of the trauma you endured, you may frequently judge or question yourself, your thoughts, and your feelings. Or perhaps you feel frustration or confusion over why you respond so strongly to some of the things that you do. You may question why you struggle with bouts of anger, depression, and hopelessness, or replay certain thoughts in your mind. These are all normal experiences when dealing with trauma. You may also experience cognitive symptoms, which pertain to how you perceive, think about, remember, and understand things. Check any current emotional or cognitive symptoms you may be experiencing.

  • Checking out of the present moment and frequently fantasizing or daydreaming
  • Forgetting or being unable to recall small chunks of time (e.g., frequently spacing out during conversations or not remembering the drive to work)
  • Acting as if on autopilot
  • Having difficulty relaxing
  • Feeling emotionally numb and/or struggling to feel a range of emotions
  • Feeling overwhelmed or anxious in social settings or large crowds
  • Lacking patience
  • Being forgetful
  • Being easily distracted, having poor focus, and/or frequently being inattentive</li >
  • Difficulty sitting still or waiting your turn, or frequently interrupting others
  • Lack of hobbies or interests
  • Angry outbursts that seem out of character or out of place
  • Disturbing memories of past traumatic events
  • Flashbacks (feeling as if you are reliving the actual event that occurred)
  • Obsessive-compulsive tendencies (e.g., wanting things in a particular order, wanting set schedules, having rigid expectations or routines)
  • Appearing or feeling overly nervous or anxious
  • Persistent negative thoughts or beliefs about yourself
  • Low self-esteem
  • Lack of a positive identity or regard for yourself
  • Difficulty regulating or controlling emotions or being overly controlled by emotions
  • Tendency to only show emotions that are expected or neutral

Take a moment and reflect on any questions, insight, or awareness that this checklist brought to mind.

Behavioral Symptoms

Another aspect of survival that you no doubt engage in are your behavioral responses. These are your coping skills. We all have responses to cope with our feelings and emotions and have all found ways that provide us relief. Some of these may be healthy coping skills, such as meditating, journaling, taking a time-out from stressful situations, whereas others may be numbing out with alcohol, substances, or overeating. Some of these responses may have been developed during the time of our traumatic experiences. These were the behaviors, habits, or other means in which we were able to hold on and survive during our pain. Although some of these responses may have served us well, some may be blocking us from progressing or healing our pain. As you consider the list below, take into consideration the behaviors, habits, or patterns you have noticed or engaged in.

  • Isolation, spending a lot of time alone
  • Disordered eating (overeating, binge eating, not eating enough, hoarding food)
  • Hoarding belongings or struggling to let go of unnecessary personal belongings
  • Hypersexuality
  • Avoiding sexual interactions or urges even when in a committed relationship/marriage
  • Addiction (eating disorders, alcoholism, drugs, gambling, sex, exercise, shopping, spending)
  • History of rebellious behavior (sneaking out, running away, stealing, lying, fighting)
  • Behavioral outbursts and/or extreme difficulty conforming to authority or perceived control

Take a moment and reflect on any questions, insight, or awareness that this checklist brought to mind.

Relationship/Interpersonal Symptoms

Another aspect of symptoms that we should consider is related to our relationship with others. Even when traumatic events have nothing to do with relationships (e.g., in the case of natural disasters, accidents, and so on), trauma often impacts our ability to trust and feel safe with others. We may have a desire for closeness, love, and connection but struggle to allow ourselves to be close or feel fully safe with others. It is also easy for others to misunderstand us and our behavioral responses. The more that you come to understand your reactions, responses, and feelings, the more likely you

will be to have healthier relationships with others in your life. Identify the symptoms that you can relate to or have experienced below.

  • Attachment issues, develop close/quick relationships with little to no boundaries
  • Avoid attachment/closeness to others
  • Sabotage close/healthy relationships when beginning to feel vulnerable
  • Poor boundaries with others (e.g., have no filter, overshare personal information, overly trust others)
  • Rigid/Strict boundaries (e.g., closed-off with emotions, can come across as controlling or uptight)
  • Tendency to be the “rescuer,” caretaker, or fixer in close relationships
  • Overly independent and avoid depending on or being close to others
  • History of being in abusive or unstable relationships
  • Struggle making personal needs known in close relationships, avoid asking for help or dismiss your own personal needs
  • Struggle to identify or understand what your own personal needs even are

Take a moment and reflect on any questions, insight, or awareness that this checklist brought to mind.

I want you to take a moment and allow yourself to experience whatever emotions that you may be feeling as you have completed the above inventories. Whatever emotions you may be feeling are valid. Recognizing your symptoms takes a lot of courage. It is difficult to face some of these things and yet you have done it. You are looking within and doing some hard work at acknowledging the pain. Remember that you are resilient. You are capable of healing even more than you think or can imagine.