What Is Emotional Trauma?
Do you wonder if you are experiencing emotional trauma? Trauma is an invasive side effect that can devastate us. It’s our mind’s response to a severe incident or event. The causes vary from a life-altering accident, rape, natural disaster, child abuse, and the effects of war. Information about trauma, traumatic events and PTSD is available now more than ever.
Unfortunately, there is still a lot of misinformation about this topic being passed around. For example, our society would make us believe that emotional trauma is a thing that can easily be overcome because it’s “just feelings.” This kind of minimization is so hurtful! It’s also important to know that all sufferers do not have the same cookie-cutter symptoms.
What Are Emotional Trauma Symptoms
The reality is that trauma often leads to a range of disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder / PTSD, anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. The most common trauma symptoms, however, tend to be:
- Emotional numbness
- Invasive memories of the traumatic event
- Withdrawal from relationships
- Always being on guard
For sufferers, these symptoms can take over one’s life. It can also make you believe you are not in control of your future or not even see the point in trying to build a better life for yourself.
Signs Of Emotional Trauma
Trauma sufferers have difficulty keeping and maintaining relationships, struggle reaching important goals, or properly taking care of their daily needs. Sufferers often are misjudged, either by themselves or close ones, as “angry” or “irrational.” Women often fear they are being overdramatic and attention seeking. This couldn’t be anything farther from the truth. Symptoms look different for everyone and trauma also has different types and ways of showing up in your life.
Different Types of Trauma
In some ways, the type of trauma you experienced does not matter. If it happened one time, like a car accident – that still hurts and can cause you to avoid driving or have nightmares. Trauma that occurred frequently such as regular physical abuse or name calling can lead to feelings of hopelessness and withdrawal from relationships.
The point is – all trauma hurts. Getting caught up in the game of “my trauma isn’t as bad as her trauma” is not helpful. What is helpful is understanding that different types of trauma require different kinds of attention. For example, daily trauma in childhood can lead to a life-long history of struggles in relationships. Your PTSD therapist will want to address this unique need. So let’s look at the different types of trauma so you can feel more confident in understanding your trauma.
Acute trauma is caused by a single, highly stressful, anxiety-inducing event such as the sudden death of a child. This kind of one-time event can often be shocking because it comes out of the blue without being able to prepare yourself or anticipate the impact.
This kind of trauma is triggered by severe, repeated stressful events. An example would be a continuous case of child abuse or domestic abuse/violence. If this kind of abuse happened in your family then you might also have witnessed the abuse of others: siblings, parent or pet. Even if you were not the target, exposure to this kind of abuse is still traumatic.
Complex Trauma is the result of multiple stressful events in one’s life, such as being active in the military or working in an emergency room. The impact of complex trauma is unique. Those with complex trauma often feel like they don’t get a break from the experience. They feel “turned on” all the time, as if their brain can’t slow down and they can rarely relax. Those with complex trauma may also feel out of their body at times or get spacey in stressful situations.
The Effects of Emotional Trauma Are Real
Many who experience trauma may not realize they are suffering from mental illness (PTSD) or poor emotional health. Unfortunately, it’s common for trauma to be associated with one or multiple forms of mental illness such as PTSD, depression or anxiety. When we display these symptoms as women especially, they are labeled as “dramatic” or “emotional” if they allow symptoms to show.
Even worse, we’re told to “toughen up” or “get over it,” over something that traumatized us. We may even tell ourselves this! There is help and there is hope in the form of treatment. You don’t have to suffer in silence nor do you have to suffer on your own.
Counseling And How To Heal From Trauma
One thing everyone who lives with a mental illness should know is that the human brain is resilient. We have the capacity to heal from traumatic events or abuse in our lives. No one should ever feel like they’re too far gone to be helped.
Trauma healing is a lot like breaking a bone. When we physically hurt ourselves, we have a medical doctor set our injured bone. We are given a treatment plan and follow-up appointments for rehabilitation. The same is true for our minds! So there’s no shame in seeking help from a professional trauma therapist.
In fact, medication and talk therapy have been proven to significantly reduce symptoms of mental illness and trauma. The road to recovery takes time. Yet you can make small adjustments and change patterns in the form of self-care right now! Our next blog will highlight some practical tips that can bring ease of trauma pain and the symptoms that manifest themselves in our everyday lives.