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Everything You Need To Know About Psychological & Emotional Trauma

image of a distressed man talking to a professional in an office

Everything You Need To Know About Psychological & Emotional Trauma

What is emotional and psychological trauma?

Psychological and emotional trauma can leave an individual struggling with upsetting emotions, memories and anxiety. It can also make you feel numb, disconnected and unable to trust other people. This type of trauma is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security and make you feel helpless.

Trauma often involves a threat to life or safety. The experience or situation can leave you feeling overwhelmed and isolated, even if it doesn’t involve physical harm. The more frightened and helpless you feel during the event, the more likely you are to be traumatised. 

It’s important to remember that traumatic events are not objective; they’re subjective, meaning that your emotional experience of the event plays a major factor.


What is psychological and emotional trauma caused by?

There are a number of things that psychological and emotional trauma can be caused by, including one-time events, ongoing and relentless stress, and commonly overlooked causes. We’ll explore these in more detail below.


  • A singular event

This one-time event can be an accident, injury, a violent attack (especially if it is unexpected) or something that happened to an individual in their childhood.


  • Continuous stress

This can be living in a neighbourhood that experiences a lot of crime, battling a life-threatening illness or experiencing traumatic events repeatedly (for example, bullying, domestic violence or childhood neglect).


  • An overlooked cause

This could be surgery (especially if it occurred in the first 3 years of life), the sudden death of someone close, a breakup of a significant relationship, or an experience that was humiliating or deeply disappointing, particularly if someone was deliberately cruel to an individual.


The risk of future trauma

If you’re under a huge amount of pressure and feeling stressed, then you’re more likely to be traumatised by an event. This is also true if you’ve recently suffered a series of losses or have been traumatised before, especially if that trauma occurred during your childhood.


What is childhood trauma?

Childhood trauma can be anything that disrupts a child’s sense of safety, including an unstable or unsafe environment, separation from a parent, a serious illness, intrusive medical procedures, neglect, domestic violence or sexual, physical or verbal abuse.

Experiencing trauma in childhood can have a lasting effect, especially when it is left unresolved. The sense of fear and helplessness can carry over into adulthood and lay the foundation for further trauma.

There are steps that can be taken to overcome the pain, allowing you to learn to trust and connect with others again, as well as regain your sense of emotional balance.


What are the symptoms of psychological & emotional trauma?

As with anything in life, we all react to trauma in different ways. Trauma experiences can manifest in a wide range of physical and emotional reactions. 

There is no right or wrong way to think, feel or respond. Your responses are normal. This cannot be emphasised enough: your responses are perfectly normal reactions to completely abnormal events.

Emotional & PsychologicalPhysical
Shock, denial or disbeliefInsomnia or nightmares
Confusion, difficulty concentratingFatigue
Anger, irritability, mood swingsBeing easily startled
Anxiety and fearDifficulty concentrating
Guilt, shame, self-blameRacing heartbeat
Withdrawing from othersEdginess and agitation
Feeling sad or hopelessAches and pains
Feeling disconnected or numbMuscle tension


Healing from trauma

The symptoms of trauma can last for a few days to a few months or longer. Gradually, the symptoms fade as you process the unsettling event. However, even when you’re feeling better, the symptoms may come back from time to time, such as being triggered by painful memories or emotions. This can occur due to an anniversary, or something that reminds you of the trauma.


What if the symptoms of psychological/ emotional trauma don’t ease?

If you’re finding that the symptoms of emotional or psychological trauma are not easing, or even are becoming worse, then you may be experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, also referred to as, PTSD. 

Emotional trauma is a normal response to a disturbing event, however, when it becomes PTSD, this is when your nervous system gets “stuck” and you remain in psychological shock. This can make you feel unable to make sense of what happened or process your emotions.


When to seek professional therapy for trauma?

Everyone heals at their own pace and recovery from trauma takes time. However, if many months have passed and your symptoms aren’t easing, then this may be the time that you need help from a professional trauma expert or trauma therapist. 

You should seek help for trauma if you’re unable to form close and satisfying relationships; have trouble functioning at home or at work; suffer from severe fear, anxiety or depression; experience terrifying memories, nightmares or flashbacks; avoid anything that reminds you of the trauma, feel emotionally numb and disconnected from others; and are using alcohol or drugs to feel better.


Helping you work through trauma

This can be scary, painful and potentially re-traumatising, so healing work is best undertaken with an experienced trauma specialist.

Finding the right therapist for you can take time. It’s important to also choose a therapist that specialises in treating trauma. But the relationship you have with your therapist is of equal importance.

Make sure to choose a trauma therapist that you feel comfortable with. Always remember that if you don’t feel safe, respected or understood, find another therapist.


Contact Future Edge Therapy

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of emotional or psychological trauma and would like to speak to someone, please drop me (Bonita) a line on 07970 011 235, or fill out our online contact form and we’ll be in touch.