This post was updated on Feb 25, 2023
Trauma often refers to an overwhelming experience or an emotionally draining event, one that leaves a lasting impression on a person. There are different types of trauma a person can experience, including childhood, developmental, bonding, emotional, and many others. The one thing that connects them all is the feelings they plant deep within us.
Trauma, no matter its type, can cause intense anxiety and stress and it can leave a long-term substantial impact on our wellbeing and our quality of life. This makes it essential to understand what trauma is, what causes it, where and when it originates, and, most importantly, what you can do to heal and overcome it.
What’s more, not talking about and seeking help for your trauma can lead to developing varied emotional intimacy issues later on in your life, such as avoidance and insecurity, making it even more important to understand what trauma is and to do your best to resolve them.
What Is Emotional Trauma?
Psychological and emotional trauma is the result of experiences or events that leave us with the feelings leading to a deep lack of safety, protection, and often helplessness. This kind of trauma can shatter your sense of security leaving you unable to successfully cope with the turmoil that ensues.
Another aspect of emotional trauma is the repetitive nature of the events that caused it. The memories can replay over and over again, causing feelings of numbness, disconnection, anxiety, as well as the potential for trust issues toward other people.
And, the old trauma wound can get activated when you experience a situation that brings about the same feelings that were planted deep within us.
Physical symptoms often accompany psychological ones after sustaining trauma. Individuals can experience nightmares, chronic insomnia, general physical unease, as well as an array of other unique symptoms. Emotional trauma creates an all-encompassing problem that can alter an individual’s entire outlook on life for very long periods of time if left untreated.
What Causes Trauma?
The first thing that’s important to note is that any experience or event that causes intense or extreme negative emotions can lead to a complex trauma developing. There’s no prerequisite that a person has to be involved in the event themselves. Merely witnessing, hearing, or watching a disturbing event can trigger emotional trauma.
Traumatic events are entirely based around your subjective emotional reaction to a distressing experience. There’s no single definition of which events can and which ones cannot lead to its development. That’s what makes it very difficult to name all the different causes for it.
3 Causes Of Trauma
Even if it’s extremely difficult to precisely determine and list all the potential causes, looking into some of the most common ones can speed up healing and help in overcoming traumatic experiences. There are three main triggers:
This category of trauma triggers refers to typically events that happen only once and left significant emotional scarring. What they have in common is that they cause a strong emotional response. Some of such events are:
- Violent attacks
- Serious injuries
- Severe accidents
- Natural disasters
Ongoing and severe stress you experience on a daily basis can easily cause trauma. However, it can be easy to confuse constant stress with stress all of us feel at one point or another in our lives, mostly due to a tough day at the office or an unexpected change of plans. Constant stress, however, stems from events such as:
- Living in a neighborhood ridden with crime
- Battling an illness threatening to take your life
- Experiencing long-time traumatic events such as childhood neglect, abandonment, domestic violence, or bullying
There are also some causes that people often ignore. However, this doesn’t diminish their significance or potential for emotional turmoil. They’re just as serious as one-time traumatic events and relentless stress, causing equally serious consequences. This refers to:
- Sudden death of a loved one
- Dissolution of a marriage or relationship
- Deeply humiliating and disappointing experience
What Are The Symptoms Of Emotional Trauma?
Many people experience both strong emotional and physical reactions after going through a traumatic event. In the majority of cases, negative feelings slowly dissipate across the span of a few days or a week. However, you may continue experiencing adverse symptoms, which creates long-lasting difficulties.
The symptoms are just as diverse as the causes, making it difficult to list all of the psychological and physical manifestations of traumatic events. However, it’s possible to name the most common ones that individuals have trouble with:
- Mood swings
- Feeling confused and disoriented
- Having trouble concentrating
- Having flashbacks to the traumatic event
- Having nightmares
- Thinking about the event all the time
- Lack of interest in things you used to enjoy
- Withdrawing from others
- Avoiding places and activities that trigger memories about the event
Some people’s reactions may be so severe that they start having panic attacks, intense bouts of anxiety, fits of anger, escape into addictions or self destructive behavior, episodes of deep depression and overwhelming fear.
What Are The Causes Of Childhood Trauma?
Traumatic events can happen to anyone at any age and at any time, making trauma a very common occurrence. However, a person is most likely to experience trauma as a grown up if they’ve also experienced traumatic events during their formative years.
This is why it’s important to have a sense of understanding of what causes childhood trauma and attempt to detect whether an individual has sustained such an event in their early years. Most of the causes of childhood trauma are similar to causes of later-life trauma. However, there are some additional factors to consider as well, such as:
- Parental and emotional neglect
- Domestic violence between the parents
- Verbal, physical, and sexual abuse
- Intrusive medical procedures at a young age
- Serious illness
- Parents’ divorce
- Caregivers abandonment and/or death
- Unsafe or unstable environment
How To Recover From Emotional Trauma?
Overcoming, recovering from, and healing from emotional trauma can be very difficult. Also, it requires a conscious effort and a true desire to deal with the traumatic experience. The last point is crucial, as not everyone’s ready to go back to a traumatic point of their lives and face the very thing that’s caused them so many problems.
4 Ways To Recover From Emotional Trauma
However, where there’s a desire to recover, there’s also a way to heal the wounds and get back on your feet again. However, remember that the road to recovery is long and hard and that it’ll probably take you through several steps, like:
First and foremost, remember to admit your traumatic experiences and accept all the love and support your closest friends and family have for your and your situation. While you can choose to heal alone, you may find you need the emotional support of others, so embrace it. This can help you through the rough patches. Accept the help and love from those who care about you.
Not all methods work for all people, so it’s important to find the type of professional help that works for you. Some individuals attend group therapy, as it helps them to share their experiences and hear the experiences of others, while others prefer individual sessions with an experienced person.
Try not to shy away from other people and retreat into yourself. Instead, when you think you’re strong enough, go out and connect with others. And you don’t even have to talk about your trauma, just talk to your friends and family and other people close to you. Shutting down is not helpful on a journey to healing. Use discernment on who is safe for you to be around. Using the PIVOT circle boundaries is extremely helpful in this situation.
Finally, remember not to push yourself. If you get tired of trying to heal, take a break. Don’t be too hard on yourself and don’t overwork yourself. Listen to your body, your heart, and your mind. If you notice you’re getting tired of your journey, take a break and focus on something else before returning to it.
PIVOT Helps Detect, Resolve & Overcome Emotional And Childhood Traumas And Deal With Emotional Intimacy Issues
Dealing with emotional, childhood, and relationship trauma is incredibly hard and it’s one of life’s most difficult experiences, right alongside dealing with the burden of relationship or marriage separation and making the difficult decision to go through with your divorce. When love hits hard, it hits the hardest.
However, where there are numerous ways to cope with your divorce and where there’s ample opportunity to recover from your relationship resentment, there’s also a way to deal with your emotional and childhood traumas successfully. All you might need is a gentle nudge in the right direction.
This is what PIVOT can help you with. Our expert relationship advocates are here to assist you deal with the emotional turmoil with our individual workshops, or grant you another chance of delving deeper into joint emotions with your partner at our couple workshops. Reach out to us today and know that we’re here for you!