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Emotional Trauma

What is Emotional Trauma? How to Heal Emotionally Traumatic Wounds. 

Trauma is an already tricky subject to think about. The physical symptoms of trauma might be easy to see. But what about its emotional impact? Keep reading to understand:

  • What is Trauma
  • What is Emotional Trauma?
  • What does Emotional Trauma Look Like?
  • Ways to Heal Emotionally Traumatic Wounds
  • “Did you know?” facts 
  • And much more!

What is Trauma?

To put it simply: trauma is your reaction to a painful or distressing event. It could be caused by a single event e.g., witnessing or hearing about someone’s death. Trauma can also arise because of many events e.g., multiple events during the war, and natural disasters.  

Did You Know? Death is not the only thing that causes trauma. 
You do not need to witness death for trauma to happen. Other sources of trauma can include:
Growing up in a difficult childhood environment not fulfilling your needs (neglect)Domestic violence/abuse 
These kinds of traumatic experiences fall under Complex PTSD.

What is Emotional Trauma?

Emotional trauma is our emotional and mental reaction to a distressing event. This reaction can happen:

What is Emotional Trauma?
  • Acutely – Right after an event 
  • Chronically – Emotional reactions after repeated or very long experiences of distressing events.
  • Complex – Emotional reactions resulting from many events that may or may not be related. 

What Does Emotional Trauma Look Like?

1. Emotional Dysregulation 

Experiencing a painful event (or many more) can make you feel intense feelings of:

  • Hurt – “Why did it happen to me?”
  • Anxious – “I’m not safe in this world”
  • Angry – “This world is unfair!”
  • Sad – “I couldn’t do anything about it”
  • And even ashamed – “I should have done something about it”

A book on trauma tells us that people will have a hard time trying to understand and process their emotions. They might feel too many emotions (feel overwhelmed) or feel very little (numb). This is called emotional dysregulation. 

Did You Know? 
A group of scientists studied people who had been exposed to childhood trauma. They found that people with experiences of trauma had a lot more activity happening in their amygdala region. The amygdala is responsible for processing emotions. 
This shows us that experiencing trauma can cause us to feel a lot of emotions over simple incidents. 

2. Emotional Numbing 

I mentioned above that trauma can cause us to feel too much or feel too little. This is called emotional numbing. It happens when our body detaches emotions from our thoughts and memories. 

Emotional numbing is tricky to see because you don’t express any reaction to an event. This could give off the message that you are fine. It could also mean that you are handling a distressing event well enough when that is not the case. 

Emotional numbing can look like:

  • Less interest or wanting to participate in different activities
  • Being detached from others 
  • A constant difficulty or inability to feel positive emotions

How to Heal Emotionally Traumatic Wounds

Healing from trauma can take a while. Trauma can shake our sense of safety that we once felt. It can feel like you have lost something and so, you might need to grieve. And that’s okay. Here are some ways to help you heal:

1. Exercise and Movement 

What is Emotional Trauma?

Trauma can shake your life completely. It can also mean that you are finding it difficult to follow your daily routine like you used to. And that’s okay.

Getting a little bit of exercise into your daily routine can help you feel much better. It does not have to be intense. Any kind of movement for a certain period e.g., 30-40 minutes a day can help you process your trauma better.

Scientists went through many scientific articles and research about exercise and PTSD. They found that exercise can help lessen feelings of anxiety, and depression in people with PTSD. Also, exercise can help people with PTSD sleep better. 

2. Psychotherapy 

What is Emotional Trauma?

Trying to heal from trauma can be challenging on its own. Sometimes, we need professional help to speed up our trauma recovery

Trauma-informed therapy specializes in helping people who have experienced trauma. Mental health professionals can help you:

  • Tap into your untouched emotions and memories that have not been resolved
  • Process your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in a healthier way
  • Teach coping skills that can help you process traumatic symptoms on your own
  • Build skills such as resilience to help you in the future

A group of scientists examined around 16 studies and 994 PTSD participants in therapy. Their research shows that trauma-informed psychotherapy is effective! This kind of psychotherapy is effective at reducing trauma-related thoughts and cognitions. 

It should be noted that psychotherapy can be a long process. You don’t always get immediate results and it can be painful to think about traumatic experiences all over again. 

Joining therapy also means committing to doing homework outside of sessions. That way, you can bring what you have learned during sessions into practice in the real world. 

Talk to a medical professional and see what kind of treatment would be best for you. 

3. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

What is Emotional Trauma?

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a kind of therapy that can combine different kinds of sensations. This usually includes eye movements, sounds, and tapping. EMDR is effective in helping people with PTSD. 

Exposure to traumatic symptoms can be painful. This process is beneficial because it does not require you to be exposed to traumatic memories for a long period. Also, you don’t need to talk about your trauma in detail. 

What is probably the best part of all? There are no homework assignments given to you for work after sessions!

Key Takeaway

Trauma is a complex matter to deal with. In addition, people experience trauma differently. 

You could experience emotional or physical symptoms of trauma. You might experience emotional dysregulation, feel overwhelmed, or feel too little.

Some of the best ways to help you heal include exercise, psychotherapy, and EMDR. Talk to a professional to find what’s best for you.

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