Top 41 Slang For Trauma – Meaning & Usage

Experiencing trauma is a difficult and often isolating journey, but knowing the right slang terms can help create a sense of community and understanding. Our team at Fluentslang has curated a list of slang for trauma that will not only educate but also empower you to navigate conversations about mental health with confidence. Let’s dive in and explore these essential words that can shed light on the complexities of trauma in a relatable way.

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1. Baggage

This term refers to the emotional or psychological issues that a person carries with them due to past experiences or traumas. It can encompass a range of negative emotions, memories, or patterns of behavior.

  • For example, someone might say, “I have a lot of emotional baggage from my previous relationships.”
  • In therapy, a person might discuss their baggage and work on unpacking it to achieve healing and growth.
  • A friend might offer support by saying, “I’m here for you, no matter what baggage you’re carrying.”

2. Scars

Scars are the marks left on the body after an injury or trauma. In the context of trauma slang, scars can represent both physical and emotional wounds that have healed but still leave a lasting impact.

  • For instance, a person might say, “These scars remind me of the accident I had.”
  • In a discussion about overcoming adversity, someone might mention their emotional scars and how they’ve grown from them.
  • A character in a book might have visible scars that symbolize their past traumas.

3. Battle scars

This term specifically refers to scars that are acquired through intense or challenging experiences, likening them to the scars earned in battle. It implies strength and resilience in the face of adversity.

  • For example, a veteran might proudly display their battle scars as a testament to their bravery and sacrifice.
  • In a figurative sense, someone might say, “These battle scars show that I’ve been through tough times, but I’m still standing.”
  • A person sharing their life story might point to their battle scars and say, “These scars tell the story of my journey and the battles I’ve fought.”

4. Demons

In the context of trauma slang, “demons” represents the internal struggles, traumas, or negative emotions that a person battles with. It can refer to past experiences, mental health issues, or personal demons that haunt them.

  • For instance, someone might say, “I’m trying to overcome my demons and move forward with my life.”
  • In a therapy session, a person might discuss their demons and work on strategies to confront and manage them.
  • A song lyric might include the phrase “battling inner demons” to convey the artist’s personal struggles.

5. Ghosts

In trauma slang, “ghosts” represent the unresolved traumas or memories from the past that continue to haunt a person. It can refer to past experiences that still have a significant impact on a person’s mental and emotional well-being.

  • For example, someone might say, “I can’t move on from my past because the ghosts still haunt me.”
  • In therapy, a person might work on confronting and processing their ghosts to achieve healing and closure.
  • A character in a movie might be haunted by the ghosts of their past, symbolizing their unresolved traumas.

6. Nightmares

Nightmares refer to intensely distressing dreams that often cause fear, anxiety, or sadness. They can be a common symptom of trauma and can disrupt sleep and cause distress.

  • For example, a person might say, “I have nightmares almost every night since the accident.”
  • Someone discussing their experience with trauma might share, “The nightmares I have make it hard for me to sleep peacefully.”
  • A therapist might ask, “Have you been experiencing any nightmares lately?”

7. PTSD

PTSD is a mental health condition that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. It is characterized by symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety.

  • For instance, a veteran might say, “I was diagnosed with PTSD after serving in combat.”
  • A person discussing mental health might explain, “PTSD is a condition that affects many individuals who have experienced trauma.”
  • A therapist might ask, “Have you been screened for PTSD?”

8. Shell-shocked

Shell-shocked is an older slang term used to describe someone who is mentally and emotionally overwhelmed or traumatized, often as a result of experiencing war or combat.

  • For example, a person might say, “I feel completely shell-shocked after witnessing that car accident.”
  • A veteran discussing their experience might share, “I came back from war feeling shell-shocked and disconnected from reality.”
  • A therapist might ask, “Do you feel shell-shocked by the recent events?”

9. Triggered

Triggered is a slang term used to describe when someone has a strong emotional reaction or response to a particular stimulus or reminder of a traumatic event. It can cause feelings of distress, anxiety, or anger.

  • For instance, a person might say, “Seeing violence on TV can trigger me and bring back memories of my own trauma.”
  • Someone discussing their triggers might explain, “Loud noises can be a trigger for me because they remind me of the traumatic event.”
  • A therapist might ask, “Have you identified any triggers that cause you distress?”

10. Wounded

Wounded is a term used to describe physical or emotional injuries resulting from a traumatic event. It can refer to both physical wounds and emotional scars.

  • For example, a person might say, “Healing from the wounds of trauma takes time and support.”
  • Someone discussing their experience might share, “I still carry the emotional wounds from that abusive relationship.”
  • A therapist might ask, “Have you sought treatment for your emotional wounds?”

11. Mental scars

This phrase refers to the lasting psychological effects of a traumatic event or experience. Mental scars may manifest as anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues.

  • For example, a survivor of abuse might say, “I may look fine on the outside, but I carry deep mental scars.”
  • Someone discussing the impact of bullying might say, “Even though it happened years ago, the mental scars are still there.”
  • A therapist might say, “Healing mental scars takes time and professional support.”

12. Soul wounds

This term describes emotional wounds that go beyond surface-level pain and affect a person’s core or essence. Soul wounds can result from intense trauma, loss, or betrayal.

  • For instance, a person who has experienced the death of a loved one might say, “I’m still healing from the soul wounds caused by their loss.”
  • Someone discussing the aftermath of a toxic relationship might say, “The soul wounds run deep, but I’m working on healing and finding my worth.”
  • A therapist might say, “Addressing soul wounds often requires inner exploration and self-compassion.”

13. Inner demons

This phrase refers to the internal challenges or negative thoughts and emotions that a person faces. Inner demons can manifest as self-doubt, guilt, shame, or other internal conflicts.

  • For example, someone struggling with addiction might say, “I’m fighting my inner demons every day to stay sober.”
  • A person discussing their mental health journey might say, “Therapy has helped me confront and overcome my inner demons.”
  • A therapist might say, “Working through inner demons involves self-reflection, understanding root causes, and developing healthy coping mechanisms.”

14. Skeletons in the closet

This phrase refers to traumatic experiences or events from a person’s past that they prefer to keep hidden or secret. Skeletons in the closet can include things like past abuse, addiction, or criminal behavior.

  • For instance, someone might say, “I’ve got a few skeletons in the closet that I’m not ready to share with anyone.”
  • A person discussing their personal growth might say, “Confronting my skeletons in the closet was a necessary step in my healing journey.”
  • A therapist might say, “Helping clients address their skeletons in the closet requires creating a safe and non-judgmental therapeutic environment.”

15. War wounds

This term refers to the physical injuries and emotional trauma experienced by soldiers or individuals involved in war. War wounds can include physical scars, amputations, PTSD, and other mental health issues.

  • For example, a veteran might say, “My war wounds remind me of the sacrifices made for our country.”
  • Someone discussing the impact of war on mental health might say, “Many veterans carry invisible war wounds that can be just as debilitating as physical injuries.”
  • A therapist specializing in trauma might say, “Treating war wounds involves a holistic approach that addresses both physical and psychological aspects of the trauma.”

16. Haunting memories

These are memories that continue to affect someone emotionally or psychologically, often causing distress or discomfort. Haunting memories can be triggered by certain events, sights, sounds, or smells.

  • For example, a person might say, “I can’t forget the haunting memories of that car accident.”
  • In a therapy session, someone might describe their experience, “I’m haunted by memories of the abuse I suffered as a child.”
  • A war veteran might say, “The haunting memories of combat still keep me up at night.”

17. Emotional ghosts

Emotional ghosts refer to unresolved emotions from a traumatic experience that continue to linger and impact a person’s well-being. These emotions can manifest as fear, sadness, anger, or guilt, and can be triggered by certain events or reminders.

  • For instance, someone might say, “I can’t move on from the emotional ghosts of my failed relationship.”
  • In a therapy session, a person might discuss their emotional ghosts, “I’m haunted by the emotional ghosts of my past trauma.”
  • A person struggling with anxiety might say, “The emotional ghosts of past failures continue to haunt me.”

18. Mental demons

Mental demons refer to the inner struggles and challenges that someone faces as a result of trauma. These struggles can include intrusive thoughts, negative self-talk, self-doubt, or feelings of worthlessness.

  • For example, a person might say, “I’m constantly battling my mental demons of anxiety and depression.”
  • In a therapy session, someone might discuss their mental demons, “My mental demons make it hard for me to trust others.”
  • A person struggling with addiction might say, “My mental demons drive me to seek solace in drugs.”

19. Emotional demons

Emotional demons refer to the internal turmoil and emotional distress that someone experiences as a result of trauma. These emotional demons can manifest as intense sadness, anger, guilt, or shame, and can significantly impact a person’s mental well-being.

  • For instance, someone might say, “I’m constantly battling my emotional demons of guilt and regret.”
  • In a therapy session, a person might discuss their emotional demons, “My emotional demons make it hard for me to form healthy relationships.”
  • A person struggling with trauma might say, “My emotional demons keep me trapped in a cycle of self-destruction.”

20. Mental baggage

Mental baggage refers to the psychological weight or burden that someone carries as a result of past traumatic experiences. This can include unresolved emotions, negative beliefs about oneself, or distorted thinking patterns that impact their daily life.

  • For example, a person might say, “I need to let go of my mental baggage to move forward.”
  • In a therapy session, someone might discuss their mental baggage, “My mental baggage from childhood trauma affects my ability to trust others.”
  • A person struggling with anxiety might say, “My mental baggage makes it hard for me to take risks or try new things.”

21. Emotional skeletons

Refers to unresolved emotional issues or traumas that a person keeps hidden or secret. The term suggests that these traumas are like skeletons in a person’s emotional closet.

  • For example, someone might say, “I finally opened up to my therapist and shared my emotional skeletons.”
  • In a support group, a member might say, “Let’s talk about our emotional skeletons and work through them together.”
  • A therapist might ask a patient, “Do you have any emotional skeletons that you haven’t addressed yet?”

22. Shell shock

Originally used to describe the psychological effects of warfare, shell shock refers to the mental and emotional trauma experienced by soldiers in combat. It is now used more broadly to describe any severe psychological trauma.

  • For instance, a veteran might say, “I still struggle with the shell shock from my time in the military.”
  • In a discussion about mental health, someone might mention, “Shell shock was one of the earliest recognized forms of PTSD.”
  • A psychologist might explain, “Shell shock can manifest in various ways, including anxiety, flashbacks, and nightmares.”

23. Battle fatigue

Battle fatigue refers to the physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion experienced by individuals who have been exposed to prolonged periods of stress or trauma, particularly in a military context. It is often used interchangeably with the term “combat fatigue.”

  • For example, a soldier might say, “I’m dealing with battle fatigue after months of intense combat.”
  • In a conversation about burnout, someone might mention, “Battle fatigue can affect anyone exposed to chronic stress.”
  • A therapist might ask a client, “Have you been experiencing any symptoms of battle fatigue lately?”

24. Melancholia

Melancholia is a term used to describe a profound and prolonged state of sadness or depression. It can be used to refer to a general feeling of melancholy or to a specific mental health condition.

  • For instance, someone might say, “I’ve been struggling with melancholia for as long as I can remember.”
  • In a discussion about art and literature, someone might mention, “Melancholia is a recurring theme in many works of Romanticism.”
  • A therapist might ask a patient, “Have you been experiencing any symptoms of melancholia, such as loss of interest or feelings of hopelessness?”

25. Nervous breakdown

Nervous breakdown is a colloquial term used to describe a severe and sudden onset of mental or emotional distress. It is often characterized by an inability to function normally and may be accompanied by symptoms such as intense anxiety, panic attacks, or emotional instability.

  • For example, someone might say, “I had a nervous breakdown after the death of a loved one.”
  • In a conversation about stress, a person might mention, “I’m worried that I might have a nervous breakdown if I don’t find a way to manage my workload.”
  • A therapist might explain, “A nervous breakdown is a sign that a person’s coping mechanisms have been overwhelmed, and they need professional help to recover.”

26. Night terrors

Night terrors are episodes of intense and vivid nightmares that occur during sleep. They can cause feelings of fear, terror, and distress, often accompanied by physical symptoms such as rapid heart rate and sweating.

  • For example, someone might say, “I suffer from night terrors, and they often leave me feeling exhausted and anxious.”
  • A person discussing their experiences might share, “During a night terror, I feel like I’m trapped in a never-ending nightmare.”
  • Someone offering support might say, “If you experience night terrors, try creating a calming bedtime routine to help promote restful sleep.”

27. Survivor’s guilt

Survivor’s guilt is a psychological condition characterized by feelings of guilt and self-blame experienced by those who survive a traumatic event when others did not. It often arises from the belief that one’s own actions or circumstances somehow contributed to the harm or loss suffered by others.

  • For instance, a person might say, “I struggle with survivor’s guilt after my friends were killed in the accident.”
  • Someone discussing their emotions might share, “Survivor’s guilt makes it difficult for me to move on and enjoy life.”
  • A therapist might advise, “If you’re experiencing survivor’s guilt, it’s important to seek support and process your feelings in a healthy way.”

28. Panic attack

A panic attack is a sudden and intense episode of overwhelming fear or anxiety that is accompanied by physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, and chest pain. Panic attacks can be triggered by specific situations or occur unexpectedly.

  • For example, a person might say, “I had a panic attack in the middle of the crowded mall.”
  • Someone describing their experience might share, “During a panic attack, I feel like I’m losing control and that something terrible is about to happen.”
  • A mental health professional might advise, “If you frequently experience panic attacks, therapy and medication can help manage and reduce their occurrence.”

29. Trauma bond

A trauma bond is a psychological attachment that forms between an abuser and a victim as a result of ongoing abuse or trauma. It is characterized by a complex mix of positive and negative emotions, as well as a strong sense of dependency on the abuser.

  • For instance, someone might say, “I couldn’t leave the toxic relationship because of the trauma bond I had with my partner.”
  • A person discussing their experiences might share, “The trauma bond made it difficult for me to recognize the abuse and break free from the cycle.”
  • A therapist might explain, “Trauma bonding often occurs in situations where power dynamics are imbalanced, such as in abusive relationships or hostage situations.”

30. Post-traumatic amnesia

Post-traumatic amnesia refers to memory loss that occurs after a traumatic event. It is a type of amnesia that specifically affects memories formed before, during, or immediately after the traumatic event. The duration and severity of post-traumatic amnesia can vary.

  • For example, a person might say, “I have post-traumatic amnesia and can’t remember anything from the car accident.”
  • Someone describing their experience might share, “The post-traumatic amnesia made it difficult for me to piece together the events leading up to the incident.”
  • A healthcare professional might explain, “Post-traumatic amnesia is a common symptom of traumatic brain injury and can last for minutes, hours, or even days.”

31. Dissociation

Dissociation is a defense mechanism that involves disconnecting from one’s thoughts, feelings, memories, or sense of identity as a way to cope with overwhelming or traumatic experiences.

  • For example, someone might say, “I dissociated during the car accident and don’t remember what happened.”
  • A person discussing their mental health might mention, “I often dissociate when I’m feeling overwhelmed or stressed.”
  • In a therapy session, a client might say, “I’ve been experiencing dissociation as a result of my past trauma.”

32. Emotional numbness

Emotional numbness refers to a state of feeling detached or unable to experience emotions. It can be a symptom of trauma and is often a way for individuals to protect themselves from overwhelming feelings.

  • For instance, someone might say, “After the accident, I felt a sense of emotional numbness.”
  • A person discussing their mental health might mention, “I struggle with emotional numbness as a result of my childhood trauma.”
  • In a therapy session, a client might say, “I’ve been working on reconnecting with my emotions and reducing emotional numbness.”

33. Trauma response

Trauma response refers to the ways in which individuals react to traumatic events. These responses can vary and may include physical, emotional, or psychological reactions.

  • For example, someone might say, “My trauma response is to freeze and become unable to move.”
  • A person discussing their mental health might mention, “I’ve noticed that my trauma response includes heightened anxiety and hypervigilance.”
  • In a therapy session, a client might say, “I’ve been learning coping strategies to manage my trauma responses.”

34. Coping mechanism

A coping mechanism is a strategy or behavior that individuals use to manage stress, emotions, or difficult situations. Coping mechanisms can be healthy or unhealthy, and individuals may develop different coping mechanisms in response to trauma.

  • For instance, someone might say, “Going for a run is my coping mechanism when I’m feeling overwhelmed.”
  • A person discussing their mental health might mention, “I’m working on finding healthier coping mechanisms than turning to alcohol.”
  • In a therapy session, a client might say, “I’ve been learning new coping mechanisms to replace self-destructive behaviors.”

35. Mental anguish

Mental anguish refers to extreme psychological distress or suffering. It can be a result of trauma or other challenging life experiences.

  • For example, someone might say, “I experienced mental anguish after the loss of a loved one.”
  • A person discussing their mental health might mention, “I’ve been struggling with ongoing mental anguish due to childhood trauma.”
  • In a therapy session, a client might say, “I’m learning to manage my mental anguish through therapy and self-care practices.”

36. Psychological wounds

Refers to the emotional and psychological damage that a person may experience as a result of a traumatic event or ongoing trauma. Psychological wounds can manifest as various mental health issues or difficulties in coping with daily life.

  • For example, a therapist might say, “Healing from psychological wounds takes time and support.”
  • A survivor of abuse might share, “I carry deep psychological wounds from my past, but I am working on healing.”
  • In a discussion about trauma, someone might mention, “Psychological wounds can impact a person’s relationships and overall well-being.”

37. Trigger warning

A warning or notice given before sharing or discussing content that may be emotionally distressing or triggering for individuals who have experienced trauma. Trigger warnings are used to allow people to prepare themselves or avoid content that may cause them distress.

  • For instance, a social media post might have a trigger warning before discussing sensitive topics like self-harm or sexual assault.
  • In a blog post about mental health, the author might include a trigger warning at the beginning to alert readers of potentially triggering content.
  • A person might say, “I appreciate when content creators use trigger warnings to prioritize the well-being of their audience.”

38. Emotional breakdown

A state of extreme emotional distress or overwhelm where a person may lose control of their emotions. An emotional breakdown often involves intense crying, panic, anger, or a combination of emotions. It can be a result of traumatic experiences or ongoing stress.

  • For example, someone might say, “I had an emotional breakdown after receiving some devastating news.”
  • In a discussion about mental health, a person might share, “Emotional breakdowns can be a sign that someone is in need of support or professional help.”
  • A person might describe their experience, “During my emotional breakdown, I felt completely overwhelmed and unable to cope.”

39. Trauma survivor

Refers to an individual who has experienced trauma and has managed to survive and overcome the challenges associated with it. Trauma survivors often display resilience and strength in their journey of healing and recovery.

  • For instance, a support group might refer to its members as trauma survivors, creating a sense of community and empowerment.
  • In a personal narrative, someone might say, “I am a trauma survivor, and I am proud of how far I’ve come.”
  • During a therapy session, a therapist might validate a client’s experience by saying, “As a trauma survivor, your feelings and reactions are valid.”

40. Trauma-informed

Refers to an approach or practice that takes into account the impact of trauma on individuals and creates an environment that is understanding, supportive, and safe for those who have experienced trauma. Being trauma-informed involves recognizing the prevalence of trauma and its potential effects on a person’s well-being.

  • For example, a school might implement trauma-informed practices to support students who have experienced traumatic events.
  • In a training workshop, participants might learn about trauma-informed care and how to implement it in their work.
  • A mental health professional might describe their practice as trauma-informed, indicating their understanding and consideration of trauma in their approach to therapy.
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41. Mind games

This term refers to psychological tactics or strategies used to manipulate or control someone’s thoughts, emotions, or behavior. Mind games can be harmful and can cause emotional distress.

  • For example, in an abusive relationship, one partner might play mind games to confuse and control the other.
  • In a workplace setting, a coworker might use mind games to undermine a colleague’s confidence and manipulate their actions.
  • A person might say, “I can’t stand the mind games my ex plays with me. It’s so draining and damaging.”