What are the signs of emotional trauma? How do you get out of emotional trauma? Does emotional trauma ever go away? What are some coping skills for emotional trauma? Where can I get tips on how to recover from emotional trauma? If you are looking for answers to these and more questions on recovering from emotional trauma, this article is for you.
Getting over trauma can feel complicated if you do not know how to go about it. Hi. My name is Sean Galla. I am a facilitator of support groups and support forums for men, including emotional trauma support groups, with over 10 years of experience. My work involves providing safe spaces for men to talk about men’s issues, including emotional trauma.
This article offers a fantastic opportunity for anyone looking for support, information, and help better understand emotional trauma. Here is everything you need to know about emotional trauma, including how to handle flashbacks and recover from emotional trauma.
Table of Contents:
The Mind and Emotions
The mind or central nervous system is responsible for storing memories you acquire from the time you are born to when you die. Memories have the power to elicit different emotions because they take you back to the time the event happened whenever you remember it. When you suffer a traumatic event in life, this creates a negative memory in your mind. Wherever you remember this negative memory, you experience emotions that can make you react differently.
Different memories can affect people differently, with some memories having a more significant impact on our brains than others. When you experience negative events, bad experiences, or deep pain, the memories can linger for longer, causing emotional and psychological trauma.
Trauma is defined as a deeply disturbing or distressing experience. All traumatic experiences are unchangeable and can keep affecting the life of the individuals when they go unaddressed, eventually causing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
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Understanding Emotional Trauma
It is impossible to address emotional trauma without talking about psychological trauma, as they go hand in hand. Emotional and psychological trauma happens when a person experiences exceptionally stressful events that affect their sense of security, leaving them feeling frightened and helpless. These events affect your day-to-day functioning and how you cope after the event.
When you suffer emotional trauma, the memories of the events keep replaying in your mind, leaving you traumatized and unable to control your thoughts or memories. The side effects of these uncontrolled memories include feeling numb, developing anxiety, feeling disconnected, and developing severe trust issues.
Emotional trauma is not only caused by physical experiences. It can also occur due to any situation that causes negative emotions, including watching, witnessing, or hearing. An individual’s reaction to the event is what determines whether they view it as traumatic or not. This is based on their subjective emotional reaction to the event.
The depth of emotional trauma depends on how intense the negative emotions about the event are. This means that different people can react differently to potentially traumatic events.
Some common causes of emotional trauma include:
- Natural disasters
- Unexpected events like a violent attack, an accident, or injury
- Emotional or physical abuse, Domestic violence, childhood neglect, or bullying
- Events that are a continuous threat, like battling a life-threatening disease or living in a crime-ridden neighborhood
While these are common causes of trauma, other causes are often overlooked. These include:
- Surgery, especially during the first three years of life
- Loss or sudden death of a loved one
- The end of relationships where there was a deep emotional investment
- Experiencing humiliating or deeply disappointing experiences, like deliberate cruelty
- Loss of health
- Losing a job
- Loss of financial stability
- Death of a pet
- Loss of a cherished dream
- A family member’s serious illness
- Loss of a friendship
- Loss of safety after a trauma
- Selling the family home
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Symptoms of Emotional Trauma
Whether the traumatic event left physical harm or emotional harm, both situations can cause deep emotional pain that can cause illness. Some of the most common physical symptoms of emotional trauma include nightmares, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, chronic fatigue, edginess, difficulty concentrating, panic attacks, muscle tension, agitation and rapid heartbeat.
When you go through a traumatic experience, your mind will respond emotionally to these events. Some of the common emotional responses include:
- Increased arousal
- Feelings of anger or irritability, reactiveness
- Avoidance of social settings, friends, and loved ones
- Self-image and views of the world become more cynical
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Sense of guilt and shame
- Grief and depression
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Sexual relationships issues
When reviewing how individuals respond to trauma, it is important to remember that these are viewed as normal reactions to abnormal situations. Therefore, there is no right or wrong way to react to trauma.
When left untreated, some of the responses to emotional trauma can result in:
- Inability to maintain close relationships or appropriate friendships
- Feelings of shame, guilt, hopelessness, or despair
- Self-destructive and impulsive behaviors
- Uncontrollable reactive thoughts
- Compulsive behavioral problems
- Hostility and argumentativeness
- Loss of former belief systems
- Feelings of being threatened
- Substance abuse challenges
- Sexual dysfunction
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Childhood Trauma and Future Trauma
Even though anyone can go through a traumatic event, you are more likely to suffer trauma if a negative event occurs when you are already under immense pressure and stress or have experienced trauma before, especially if the trauma occurs in your childhood.
Childhood trauma can result from any event that threatens a child’s sense of safety and well-being. This includes:
- Living in an unstable or unsafe environment
- Living away from one or both parents
- Serious illness at a young age
- Intrusive medical procedures
- Domestic violence
- Physical, verbal, or sexual abuse
Childhood experiences have a profound impact on the architecture of the developing brain. Early experiences impact how an individual view themselves and the environment around them. They affect how one copes with everyday changes and impact how one relates with others in their adulthood.
Positive childhood experiences create healthy and productive adults, while negative childhood experiences can cause poor mental health and even physical health in adults.
Growing up in a traumatic setting can have lasting effects on the child’s mind. When left untreated, it continues to affect their mind even in adulthood. The sense of fear, hopelessness, and despair carries on to adulthood, setting the individual up for further trauma.
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How to Recover From Emotional Trauma
Healing from emotional trauma as self-care is an individual experience since what works for one person may not work for the other. However, there are several steps one can take to help them move towards wellness.
Take up exercise
A traumatic experience disrupts the natural aquarium of your body, which affects your nervous system. Ensuring you remain active through movement and exercise can help repair the nervous system. Take time for physical activity every day to improve your emotional and physical health. Relaxation techniques like yoga help your body to focus on the movements, therefore diverting the attention from the negative thoughts. During this time, ensure you focus on your body and note how it responds to the movements, even taking notice of the rhythms of deep breaths.
Connect with other people
Fostering connections is an essential part of the healing process. If you have been avoiding your loved ones or friends, you should consider making more time for them. It helps to find people you can freely speak to about your trauma and the steps you are taking to recover from it. Asking for support from some trusted family members, close friends, or spiritual advisers can make the recovery process better.
Consider seeking professional help
If your emotional trauma and traumatic memories and flashbacks seem to worsen, making it difficult to move on from the event over a long period, you may be experiencing PTSD and should consider seeing a mental health provider for psychotherapy.
PTSD occurs when your nervous system gets stuck in the events surrounding the trauma, leaving you in psychological shock and unable to process your feelings and emotions healthily.
A trained healthcare provider or mental health professional takes you through eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to help you learn healthy ways of stress management, process your traumatic experience, and handle the effects of trauma.
Allow yourself to go through the stages of healing
While it is tempting to forget or ignore a traumatic event or painful memories, this is usually a short-term fix. You need to come to terms with the experience and allow yourself to go through the stages of healing to be able to reach full recovery.
Find a support group
If you are uncomfortable talking to your family members or friends, you can find the support you need to recover by joining a support group. Trauma support groups offer a safe and open space where trauma survivors can share, learn and support each other through the recovery journey. Connecting with other people who understand can offer inspiration and help you feel less alone as you go through recovery.
If you are a man looking for an ideal trauma recovery support group, mensgroup.com is a leading online men’s support forum you can join.
If you are a man interested in being part of a trauma recovery support group, Men’s Group is a men-only online group you should join. This group seeks to mentor all men while equipping them with the right additional resources to become better versions of themselves, including emotional trauma survivors.
Whether you are looking for a healing, support, or just a haven, mensgroup.com has mentors ready to help you overcome your trauma while making new friends. Becoming part of MensGroup will build healthy relationships and become a better man even after the traumatic experience. Through this online group, you will connect with fellow men to help you heal and move on.
The greatest hindrance to seeking help for emotional trauma survivors is the fear of being judged and even blamed for what they went through. Trauma support groups offer a safe space for survivors to come forth and be amongst other survivors. These groups make it easy for survivors to seek help and find healing away from society’s judging eyes. If you are a male survivor looking for support, MensGroup is an ideal support forum to find help and get back on your feet. You can lead a happy and normal everyday life by joining a support group even after a traumatic experience.
*Sources: 1. How to cope with traumatic stress 2. 10 Ways to Heal From Trauma 3. Emotional and Psychological Trauma 4. Self-Care and Recovery After Trauma 5. Dealing With Trauma