Psychological and Emotional Trauma: Treatment, Recovery Tips, Symptoms

If you have been exposed to a traumatic event or incident, you may be subjected to upsetting emotions, terrifying memories that are troubling your mind. You may also feel disconnected, numb or go through a feeling of distrust. When bad incidents happen, you might need some time to get through it and feel safe. By relying on right treatment and self-help strategies as well as support, you can recover at a faster rate. Even if the traumatic events have taken place long back, you can get help and move on ahead in life.

Psychological and Emotional Trauma

What is Psychological and Emotional Trauma?

Psychological and emotional trauma is the outcome of grave stressful events that can often disturb your sense of security or make you feel vulnerable or helpless in this world.

The events of trauma often include threats to security or life, be it any situation that can make you feel overwhelmed. Moreover, these situations need not cause any harm to the physical state of a person. It is not the facts that are objective which can determine whether the situation is traumatic or not. The subjective experience that a person feels emotionally often determines the amount of trauma that is related to a particular event. The more helpless and frightened you feel the more are your chances of being traumatized.

Psychological and emotional trauma can be caused by one time incidents or in a single blow. This may involve a natural disaster, violent attack or a horrible accident as well. Trauma can also be caused due to relentless and ongoing stress like being in a crime-ridden neighborhood or suffering from cancer.

Signs and Symptoms of Psychological and Emotional Trauma

People react in different ways when subjected to various types of trauma and they may experience a wide range of emotional as well as physical reactions. There is no judgment when it comes to the way they feel, think or even respond. So, you cannot really judge your reaction or that of other people. You might seem that your reactions are Normal when you are part of Abnormal incidents.

Psychological and Emotional Symptoms of Trauma:

  • Disbelief, shock, or denial
  • Mood swings, irritability or anger
  • Self blame, guilt or shame
  • Sadness or feeling of hopelessness
  • Trouble concentrating or confusion
  • Fear and anxiety
  • Social withdrawal
  • Feeling numb or disconnected.

Physical Symptoms of Psychological and Emotional Trauma:

  • Nightmares or insomnia
  • Getting startled effortlessly
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Pains and aches
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Muscle tension.

These feelings or symptoms typically last for a duration of a few days or months and fade away gradually as you are successfully processing the trauma. Nevertheless, even if you are feeling better, your mind may be troubled by all the incidents that are a part of traumatic events. This may be in response of triggers like sound, image, situation or anniversary of the event that may remind you of the traumatic event.

When Should I Meet a Doctor for Psychological and Emotional Trauma?

Everyone needs different time for healing or getting out of the traumatic situation. But if you have put in months of efforts in recovering and the symptoms do not seem to fade away, it is time for you to seek help from a trauma specialist.

You Should Consult a Doctor for Psychological and Emotional Trauma if you are:

  • Experiencing any trouble working at home or at your workplace
  • Going through anxiety, severe fear or depression
  • Inability to make satisfying or close relationships
  • Experiencing flashbacks, traumatic memories and nightmares
  • Avoiding things that can refresh your memory about the traumatic event
  • Being disconnected emotionally or feeling numb when in a group
  • Using drugs or alcohol to revive and feel better.

Suffering through trauma can be painful, creepy and potentially re-traumatizing. Only an experienced trauma specialist will be able to heal you in a better way when there are associated risks of retraumatization.

It may take you some time to find the right therapist. It is imperative to choose a therapist that has experience in handling trauma. Maintaining a quality relationship with your therapist is also of prime importance. Choose a specialist with whom you feel comfortable. Trust your inner voice at such time. If you do not feel respected, safe or understood, switch to another therapist. A sense of trust should be built between you and your trauma specialist.

Treatment for Psychological and Emotional Trauma

To get out of any psychological and emotional trauma, you must first learn to face as well as resolve the feelings that are unbearable. This may also involve the memories that you have avoided for a long time. If not done this way, they will keep hitting your brain and can become uncontrollable in the later stages.

Treatment for Psychological and Emotional Trauma Includes:

  • Dealing with feeling and memories that are related to trauma.
  • Releasing unexpressed “fight-or-flight” energy.
  • Earning to regulate all emotions that are strongly felt.
  • Rebuilding the trust issues that you have for others.

Therapies for Psychological and Emotional Trauma:

Trauma disturbs the natural equilibrium of the body, thus freezing it in a state of fear and hyper arousal. This sets the nervous system in a state of freeze. Any trauma treatment can be termed as successful, if it is able to address the imbalance and help in reestablishing your sense of safety. Below mentioned are a few therapies that are used in treating psychological and emotional trauma.

  • CBT or Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Psychological and Emotional Trauma helps in processing and evaluating about the traumatic events. While this therapy does not treat the physiological traumatic effects, it can be helpful when combined with other therapies like EMDR or somatic experience.
  • Somatic Experiencing for Psychological and Emotional Trauma uses the ability of the body to heal from any event on its own. The therapy focuses on the sensations that are felt by the body apart from the memories as well as the thoughts that relate to the traumatic event. By concentrating on the feelings that are experienced by the body, you actually are in touch with the energy that is related to the tension and trauma. From here, the body takes all the natural instincts of survival.
  • EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) for Psychological and Emotional Trauma includes fundamentals of cognitive-behavioral therapy in combination with eye movements or other types of rhythmic, left-right stimulation. The unfreezing traumatic instances are tackled by the back and forth eye movements, which then allow one to resolve them.

Psychological and Emotional Trauma Recovery Tips

It takes time to recover from psychological and emotional trauma. You will have to give yourself some time to heal and mourn in the losses that you have gone through. You should never try to force the process of healing. Try to be patient with the entire process and be prepared to handle any emotions that are volatile. You have the liberty to say or feel anything without making any judgments or feeling guilty.

Never Try to Withdraw yourself Completely After a Traumatic Incident in Order to Recover Fully from Psychological and Emotional Trauma

  • Never try to withdraw yourself after any traumatic event as it can only make the feelings worse. Try to connect with people and maintain the bond so that you can maintain the relationships that you share.
  • Seek support. It is important to speak about the things you feel and ask for the help. Rely on a family member whom you can trust or a friend, clergyman or counselor.
  • Take part in various social activities. The normal routine work that you do just like other has nothing to do with the experiences that has caused you trauma. If you are retreating from certain relationships make a point to connect with them.
  • Join support groups. Being with others who have survived trauma can help you in coping with the feelings in a better way. This may also help you in getting rid of feelings of isolation and get some inspiration from others as well.
  • Choose to volunteer. Volunteering can help you in challenging the helplessness that you are feeling due to traumatic events. You can reclaim all your strength by helping others.

By Staying Grounded and Spending More Time in Relaxing and Social Activities can Help you Recover from Psychological and Emotional Trauma

You will have to follow a schedule for staying grounded after Psychological and Emotional Trauma.

  • Allot time for relaxing and social activities apart from other chores. Be sure to follow the planned schedule.
  • Break all large tasks into smaller ones that can make it more manageable. Appreciate yourself after any smaller accomplishments.
  • Find tasks or activities that tend to make you happier and release all the bottled up energy after a traumatic situation.
  • Let yourself free and allow your body to feel that way it wants to. Accept all the feelings and this is a major part of the process of grieving.

Giving Highest Priority to your Health is the Best Way to Recover from Psychological and Emotional Trauma

The ability of your body to handle the psychological and emotional trauma increases if you have a healthy body.

  • Get enough sleep. You may have a disturbed sleep pattern if you are feared or worried. Lack of sleep can worsen your symptoms and it may be difficult to be in a state of balance. Aim to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep.
  • Avoid consuming drugs or alcohol as it can boost the symptoms and intensify the feelings of anxiety, depression and isolation.
  • Exercise daily. This helps in boosting the endorphins, serotonin and other chemicals that facilitate good mood. Choose to be physically active for at least 30 to 60 minutes every single day.
  • Eat a balanced diet. Make sure to eat small and balanced meals at regular intervals throughout the day. This will help you to be energized through the day and control your mood swings as well. Instead of eating sugary foods, choose to include complex carbohydrates.
  • Plan to reduce stress. Allot time for relaxation and rest as it is necessary to restore balance. Try yoga, meditation and other relaxation techniques. Spare some time for your favorite activities or hobbies or the things that you love doing the most.

How Can I Help Someone Deal with Psychological and Emotional Trauma?

Help is definitely needed to a person who is exposed to a psychological and emotional trauma. You may find it difficult to understand about helping your friend or relative to revive from a traumatic event. At such times, remember, it is your support that they need the most. Below are few ways by which you can help your close ones deal with psychological and emotional trauma.

  • Be enduring and thoughtful. It takes time to heal from a psychological and emotional trauma. Be patient and do not judge the reaction of your loved ones based on your response to a particular situation.
  • A practical support can be of great help to bring your loved one back to their normal routine. You can choose to listen or speak to them when they will speak to you about something.
  • Do not pressurize them to speak with you when they do not feel like doing it. Choose to speak or listen only when they are emotionally ready or mentally available.
  • Help them in socializing and relaxing. Encouraging them to participate in social activities can tend to soothe their mind and relax them completely.
  • Do not tend to take the symptoms that are related to trauma on a personal level. Your loved one can be irritable, angry or feel distant on an emotional basis. At such times, it is important for you to understand that it is the outcome of trauma and has nothing to do with you.
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 3, 2019

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