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Trauma is experienced by 60.7% and 51.2% of men and women in the United States. It is also noted that trauma symptoms develop in relation to a variety of responses, such as fear, helplessness, or dissociation associated with feeling overwhelmed and being flooded with effect. Emotional and psychological trauma can cause some of the most intense human behaviors from addiction to general impulsive behaviors. Emotional trauma can come in many different forms but still can shake a human’s mental health to their core. Whether an individual a bystander at a mass shooting or in a car accident, emotional trauma can happen to anyone at any point in their life.

 

What Can Cause Emotional Trauma

Trauma on a psychological level is the result of an overstimulating and extraordinarily stressful event that has shattered an individual’s sense of security. Traumatic events often involve the threat of life or safety, even if the event does not cause direct physical harm. Objective facts cannot determine if a specific event is traumatic or not. It is a person’s subjective response to the experience that makes it traumatizing. Trauma does not affect all individuals in the same way and most resolve the effects within a 3 month period of time. Factors such as support and prior history of trauma are known to play a role in how individuals respond to their trauma.

 

Side Effects of Emotional Trauma

Untreated trauma could lead to some of the worse mental health issues facing our country. Addiction, depression, and PTSD can often be traced back to an individual’s trauma. Many symptoms of trauma include emotional dysregulation, dissociation, somatization, self-stigma, identification with the perpetrator, relationship difficulties, and doubts about a view of a just world. Some individuals may have less interest in activities they were interested in before, have difficulty feeling warmth toward others, and may not be able to relate to a future for themselves. Many experience difficulty sleeping, irritability, difficulty concentrating, hypervigilance, and heightened startle reactions.

 

What to Do When You Have Emotional Trauma

First, it is critical to establish safety, so that, second, “the healing work of remembrance, integration, and mourning” of losses can occur, and third, the individual can regain his or her connections with others and his or her community, in newer self-affirming ways.

Those who have experienced an intense emotional event, don’t always think of getting help as their initial thought. Those affected are usually stuck in a state of shock or depression so much so that therapy is not on their radar. Trauma can put you in a frozen mental state, so it is essential to keep moving. Ensure you are seeing a trauma therapist weekly and exercising for 30 minutes each day. Engaging in a daily activity will keep you from staying in that frozen mindset that can encourage adverse side effects.

Another factor that can immensely help a person going through trauma is being open to others. Closing yourself off from social interaction will not be helpful for you to begin to manage the issues at hand. Others may not understand, but they can be a great resource for you to begin to facilitate the management of your traumatic experience. Nobody should go through a traumatic event without another person there to help them through the pain. Finally, creative, strength-based approaches to treatment may include martial arts training, art and dance therapy, journal writing, massage, yoga, and meditation.

In our society, there is a wide range of traumatic experiences that result in similar responses, yet there are challenges in creating an individualized treatment. Thankfully, an awareness of how neurological processes are affected by trauma helps us in understanding the multiplicity of symptoms and has led us to a broad range of treatments.