Experiencing stressful events can cause emotional and psychological trauma. This can include any event that provokes extremely negative emotions. Being involved in, or witnessing such an event, can damage one’s sense of security and cause lasting feelings of helplessness and fear. And, it can shape the way you enter, engage in, and exit relationships.
Not knowing how to cope with these emotions can lead some people to develop certain patterns of behavior to use as a defense mechanism and leave them feeling permanently disconnected from others, and at times, unable to trust anyone.
Learning what emotional trauma is and what events can cause it is an important step to take toward recovery. Emotional and psychological trauma can be caused by one-time events like injuries, accidents, or sudden acts of violence. Natural disasters could also trigger trauma for many people. Many people are suffering from the affects of COVID 19 for many reasons. Fear of losing loved ones to the virus, actually losing loved ones to the virus, fear of catching it, being isolated,forced to be home with someone whom you are not used to spending so much time with during quarantine, losing jobs, etc.
The most deeply rooted trauma can stem from various forms of domestic violence, child abuse, neglect, or bullying. The death of a loved one or a toxic and emotionally draining and abusive romantic relationship are also common causes of emotional trauma.
Treating trauma can be particularly difficult if it was caused by a childhood event or series of events. Childhood negative experiences like neglect and abandonment, affect brain development and influence self-image formation, as well as the way children view their environment. If left unaddressed these feelings will transfer into adulthood, causing a permanent sense of fear, insecurity, and helplessness. This type of trauma can become extremely challenging in relationships and a part of the family dynamic for generations.
How Long Does Emotional Trauma Take To Heal?
Recovering from trauma is a specific kind of emotional journey and an incomparably different experience for many people. This also means that everyone will navigate through it at their own pace. Try not to compare yourself to others who may have experienced similar events. Even though other people’s shared experiences may serve as an inspiration and make you feel less isolated, they can also discourage you if their process seems faster than yours. You Matter. And your experiences are like your thumbprint – unique to YOU.
Healing from trauma is a gradual process, so don’t forget to have patience and compassion for yourself. Trauma recovery requires intention, a process, application, and perseverance. The most important thing is to keep on the path of healing.
There are some general stages that most people go through while healing from trauma and don’t be alarmed if your journey doesn’t go exactly “according to plan”. The truth is, there is no plan when it comes to YOUR feelings. There are, however, ways to make it easier for yourself and one of them is allowing others to help you and guide you.
What Are The Long-Term Effects Of Trauma?
While some effects of trauma are instantaneous, like shock, confusion, denial, or disbelief, most trauma will leave more permanent marks. You might experience all these symptoms or only some of them, and there’s no telling how long they could last. Some people might try to suppress them and it may appear like they’ve managed to overcome their challenges while others get caught up in a storm of emotions they can’t seem to get out of.
Whatever the case, it’s useful to recognize the most common long-term symptoms and effects of emotional trauma:
- Anxiety and depression.
- Flashbacks or re-experiencing the trauma, usually triggered by certain events, places, or other reminders.
- Cognitive function problems, like memory or concentration disruptions.
- Health issues. Trauma and accompanying anxiety can provoke general inflammation in the body and cause various diseases.
- Behavioral changes, like high-risk behavior, and alcohol or drug use. Eating disorders are also common.
Aside from emotional symptoms, it’s quite common to feel physical ones too. Our bodies and minds are tightly connected, so any strong emotions caused by trauma can be followed by physical challenges like:
- Nightmares or insomnia.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Irregular heartbeat.
- Muscle tension.
- General fatigue.
- Unexplained physical pain, or other sensations like numbness or tingling.
Does Emotional Trauma Go Away?
Trauma doesn’t simply “go away”, but recovery is certainly possible. Depending on the type or severity of the trauma, some people may learn to live with it and adapt their behavior to compensate for the damage it caused. Others, on the other hand, may suffer from the consequences so deeply that they significantly impair their everyday life. Such cases usually require professional help with a long recovery journey ahead.
However, the right type of support and guidance can be enough to help along the way to healing. It might be overly optimistic to expect all traces of trauma and feelings associated with it to completely disappear. Adjust your expectations and focus on learning how to cope with them in healthier ways without allowing them to interfere with your sense of self-worth.
Another important aspect of healing from trauma is how you can relate to others. Learning to form healthy relationships with friends, family members, and romantic partners is one of the most significant benefits of the healing process. Some people in your life might not realize that you can’t simply get over it and move on. Don’t be afraid to let them know that trauma recovery is a long process, one which may not be over for a period of time. However, what you can do is gradually build the strength to stop being the victim of past events and learn to create a happy future for yourself.
How Do You Heal Trauma?
Healing from trauma is an individual experience and your experience needs to be personalized. There is no one size fits all. Different approaches work for different people and everybody pushes through the process at their own pace. Don’t get discouraged if you’re not healing as fast as you’d imagined as you might repeatedly get overwhelmed by all the emotions that need to be brought up to the surface and addressed.
Some of the common practices recommended during the process include:
- Physical activity and mindfulness. Exercise may not be the first thing that comes to mind as a way of dealing with trauma, and yet it does make sense. Traumatic experiences influence your body too and healthy physical activity can help stabilize your nervous system. It’s also a good way to clear your head from negative thoughts by focusing attention on your body.
- Self-care. Allow yourself to rest and relax. Actively working on overcoming emotional trauma can be exhausting, both emotionally and physically.
- Meaningful connection with others. Try to resist your need to self-isolate. Make a conscious decision to spend time with your friends and to participate in social activities. Circle boundaries with PIVOT can help guide you in this process.
- Asking for support or guidance. If reconnecting with friends and family makes you uncomfortable or brings up bad memories, you can seek professional help. You might even feel ready for some new friends as you progress on your healing journey.
- Healthy choices. Aside from physical exercise, make sure to eat healthy food, get enough sleep, and avoid falling into the trap of alcohol or drug use. They may make you feel better momentarily however all your issues will still be there, lurking, waiting for you to deal with them.
- Regaining a sense of agency by helping others. This may sound counterintuitive when you feel like you’re the one that needs help. However, knowing that you can make a difference and be there for others can help you reclaim your sense of dignity and power, to counteract the feeling of helplessness.
Start Healing From Emotional Trauma With The Guidance Of PIVOT Coaches
Dealing with the consequences of emotional trauma usually requires thorough and engaging work with the support and guidance of a trained professional. Many people adopt unhealthy behavior patterns to avoid dealing with unsettling feelings caused by trauma. We can help you explore and address those feelings and then shift your focus to changing damaging behaviors. Personalized and individualized to your story, you will be able to PIVOT to healthier responses.
Since emotional trauma is a highly sensitive and personal issue, some people might prefer the discretion of individual one-on-one sessions with PIVOT coaches. However, there’s also the famous strength in numbers, so if you feel like working through your issues with a small group of people who understand what you’re going through, you might benefit from Glass House retreat workshops. You can escape the stress and responsibilities of everyday life and let yourself be heard, seen, and understood.