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Recognizing Signs of Emotional Trauma In Yourself

The vast majority of Americans will be subjected to at least one traumatic incident at some time in their lives, and the psychological consequences for many will be significant and long-lasting. Do you know how to recognize the signs of emotional trauma in yourself? 


When I was in my college psychology class it occurred to me that I had in fact suffered emotional trauma. This realization was devastating to me at the time, but that almost instantly turned into healing. 


For me, understanding why I had certain behaviors, reservations, and triggers was everything. The self-awareness washed over me and with a new sense of understanding, I was able to turn a page and lead a more productive and meaningful life.


Understanding emotional trauma in yourself begins with recognizing the signs of emotional trauma so you can unpack their root and heal accordingly. Continue reading to gain a better understanding of these signs today, so you can start growing into a better you tomorrow.

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Understanding Emotional Trauma

The Effects of Trauma 

If you’ve been through an exceptionally upsetting or stressful situation that has left you feeling powerless or terrified, you may be suffering from emotional trauma. According to the National Council for Behavioral Health, over 70% of adults in the United States, or around 223 million individuals, have been through at least one traumatic incident in their lives.


Traumatic incidents are experiences that cause tremendous dread, fear, or helplessness; in many situations, these are experiences that put you or someone close to you in danger of harm or death.


Traumatic experiences, at their heart, are those that alter your perception of the world around you. They frequently instill in you a sense of hopelessness, fear, and even worry that your life will end abruptly or prematurely.


Trauma can stem from a variety of sources, including; car accidents, acts of war, brutality, or long-term abuse, natural disasters, severe illness or disease, bereavement or loss, medical emergencies, neglect, or abuse in childhood.


There are some noticeable signs of emotional trauma. Exhaustion, confusion, anger, anxiety, depression, feelings of emptiness, or, on the other hand, a heightened sense of awareness are common early warning signs.


These are healthy and natural reactions to extenuating circumstances.


However, even after the threat has passed, some people exhibit more acute trauma symptoms. Long-term trauma symptoms include persistent anxiety or confusion, disassociation from the incident, and vivid recollections of the event.


In certain situations, you may have delayed emotional trauma symptoms such as sleep difficulties, repetitive reliving of the terrible incident, sadness, and avoidance behaviors when faced with feelings or situations that remind you of the traumatic incident.


The Signs of Emotional Trauma

We all react differently to trauma, and while there are no “right” or “wrong” methods to deal with traumatic circumstances, there are certain common symptoms and signs of emotional trauma.


Symptoms of emotional and psychological trauma include but are not limited to; trouble focusing, denial, anger, impatience, and trouble controlling one’s emotions, anxiety and fear, sadness or a sense of despair, and feeling aloof and cut off from people and daily life.


Emotional trauma not only impacts our mental health, but it may also have an impact on our physical health. In fact, studies have found a link between trauma and health problems such as heart disease, Cancer, high blood pressure, COPD and even type 2 diabetes


It’s hardly surprising, then, that many trauma-related characteristics are physical. Here are some examples of the physical effects of trauma; insomnia, fatigue, nightmares, increased heart rate, muscle tension and aches, and startling easily.

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Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of Trauma in Others

Relationships can suffer greatly due to living in the aftermath of trauma. If someone you care about has gone through a traumatic event that has impacted their feeling of safety, security, and self, it’s normal for it to affect how they interact with others.


It might be challenging to comprehend your loved one’s actions; you may feel as if you’re walking on eggshells or as if you no longer recognize them. If you live with a spouse or partner, you may find yourself taking on extra domestic duties and obligations because they lack the energy, drive, or interest in performing their share of the customary division of work in your family.


Trauma symptoms to look out for in a loved one include but are not limited to; getting more or less sleep than usual, disordered eating, including eating too much or too little, unexplained outbursts of rage, difficulty focusing on home and work responsibilities, difficulty holding a conversation, and paranoia.


It may be difficult not to take a loved one’s trauma symptoms personally, but keep in mind that they may be unable to regulate their moods and behavior. 


Your loved one may be “trapped” in a state of danger and high alert, which can lead to anger, distrust, and sadness. You may need to get your loved one professional help, but in the meanwhile, offering support, being a good listener, and fostering trust and a sense of safety will help them move forward.

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Photo by Mateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash

Treatment for Emotional Trauma

There is no way to ignore or undo the damage that trauma has done to you or a loved one. However, with the right treatment, you may be able to heal and move on with your life. 


The majority of patients benefit from a mix of therapies provided by registered and authorized professionals. You should not attempt to treat emotional trauma on your own.


There is no way to undo what happened to you. While counseling and other trauma-related therapies can be highly beneficial and help pave the road ahead, there may be no true cure. 


Living with emotional trauma is complex, and it needs consistent effort to see progress. Coping and support techniques may substantially impact the majority of people’s lives. 


This includes the following:

Maintaining Your Treatment Plan: Once you’ve met with a therapist and developed a treatment plan, adhere to it. It’s the greatest way to stay on the road to recovery when you’re having a difficult day or a panic attack. 


Avoid Self-Medication: Self-medication is one of the worst ways to handle anxiety and PTSD. Using alcohol and drugs to dull your emotions just complicates matters and restricts your capacity to process and cope with your feelings. 


Take a Break: If you’re feeling overwhelmed and preoccupied with your anxieties or thoughts, step away from what you’re doing. This might be as simple as going to a coffee shop or going for a stroll.


Find Something You Enjoy Doing: Work on developing positive habits. Putting your fearful energy into something you enjoy doing might be beneficial. You will never be able to overcome your trauma, but you can find new methods to improve the quality of your life.


This may significantly impact where your attention is focused throughout the day.


Connect With Others: Getting out of your head and away from your thoughts can be an effective way to manage your trauma-related emotions. Find a local organization, for example, that offers support groups with other people who have gone through the same sort of trauma as you.


This will give you access to support and a sense of community with individuals who understand what you’re going through and thinking about on a daily basis.


Final Thoughts

When trying to recognize the signs of emotional trauma, whether it’s within yourself or others, it is necessary to be open to working hard to overcome your traumatic experience and not let it rule your life. This includes consistently working with your therapist, attending appointments, and participating in group discussions.


When you do this, you will notice the most improvement. Your self-awareness and ability to navigate situations as they present themselves will sharpen. Understanding the signs of emotional trauma is the first step to healing and reaching your full potential in life.


You’ve already made a great step towards that by reading this post. Well done. And never give up.

Christa Thompson

Christa Thompson is the Founder and Chief Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. She started traveling the world in 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day. "It's never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams." -Christa Thompson

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